Coach Bill Washington
Pepperell Memorial - East Alabama Museum
Thank you Jess Akins
"Blast From The Past" WJHO Radio - Jack Smollon
Opelika History/Images Opelika, Alabama
Opelika Mill Village News
Pepperell Kids
PROFILE - Teachers & Students
Class of 1952 Obituary
Alumni Newsletter 2014

    Coach Bill Washington
    (How many of you remember Coach)

Coach Bill & Joe Higgins - January 2011

Coach Bill on practice field at Moore Stadium in the 50's

Over the past year, Coach Bill has been having lunch with the second Friday Lunch Bunch.  We have gotten to know him and he is always accompanied by his side kick, Joe Higgins, graduate of the class of 1958.  We have added a short bio of Coach and his years at Clift High and Opelika Jr. High during the 40's and 50's.
(Hope you enjoy reading about him as much as we enjoy having him join us at lunch)


Coach Bill was born in West Virginia.  His father passed away when he was four years old.  His mother moved them to Greensboro, North Carolina where he grew up.  He attended school there and graduated from Greensboro Senior High School in 1940.  After graduating in 1940 he went to work at the Air Force Base located at Langley Field, Virginia.  He became an Aircraft Model Maker in the Civil Service Division.  Here they made test models of air planes for wind tunnels and testing purposes.

In 1942, he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Florida.  He was then stationed on a Naval Carrier where he functioned as an Aircraft Mechanic.  His title was Plane Captain Crew Chief.  This branch of the Navy was equivalent to the Army Air Corp.  He served on the carrier until the war  ended and was discharged in 1945.  He went back to Langley Field in 1946. 

In 1945 his soon to be wife graduated from Chapel Hill College, North Carolina as a math major.  She went to work at Langley Field in the computer lab as one of the mathematicians.   In June 1947 he married Rosalind Davison and decided he needed a college education.    While at Langley Field Bill played football with the "Newport News Builders" team.  He played for half the season in 1947 and without finishing out the season he and his new bride moved to Opelika.  He enrolled in Aeronautical Engineering at Alabama Polytechnic Institute in Auburn on the G.I. Bill.   Rosalind taught math at Clift High School from 1947 to 1951.  Bill would leave API campus and  drive to Opelika to pick up Rosalind and she usually was keeping someone in after school, so Bill went down to Moore Stadium to watch football practice.  In 1947 he began to volunteer to help with the practice sessions and since there was no line coach at that time and because of his previous football experience, he was eventually recruited by Coach Mason to take on the title of Line Coach (1947 - 1956).  He was paid $300.00  per year for his services. 

Bill had become good friends with head coach Sam Mason.  On Sunday afternoons the coaches would get together at Coach Mason's house to watch games on television and then they would sit down and have a planning session for the upcoming games.   In 1947  Harold Turner was attending college and was coaching the Pepperell Jr. High football team...(and that is another story).   

After graduating from A.P.I. in 1951, Bill took a full time day job at the Pepperell Bleachery as the assistant to the Master Mechanic, while continuing to work part time as line coach.  In 1956 he went to work at Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia where he worked as a teacher in the Metal Shop for two years.   While at Baker High School he would come home in the afternoon and coach the Opelika Junior High football team during the afternoon practices.  He did this for two years. 

In 1958 he was employed by A.P.I. as a Physical Education teacher.  At this time the current president at API did not think the school needed a swim team so Bill volunteered to teach/coach a swim team and springboard diving  class at the school.  The only pool on campus  was a  25' X 55' size pool and was located in the basement of the Alumni Gym.  This building was started in 1915  and completed in 1918 with donations from the alumni.  Today  the Union Building stands on the spot where the old Alumni Gym was located. 

In 1970 the university built a new pool and at that time he was officially the swim coach and P.E. teacher.  He was on the P.E. staff until he retired in 1992.  From 1958 to 1992 Bill was the faculty advisor for the Scuba Club's "Tiger Sharks".  Also in 1958 or 1959 he started Adventure Sports at Five Points in Opelika in the Tiger Bus Company building.  This sports store is still operating at a different location in Auburn on Gay Street by the John Goodner Family.

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