Funeral services were held Saturday in South Boston for one of Blackstone High School’s highly-regarded athletes, who went on to become a beloved coach and educator.
Fred Atkins “Freddie” Palmore , 74, is being remembered as “one of the most successful coaches in the history of the Halifax County High School sports program,” according to the Gazette-Virginian newspaper.
Palmore, a 1962 graduate of Blackstone High, died Dec. 13th in a Lynchburg hospital, the paper reported. He’s also being remembered as a tough but fair coach whose players gave him their best.
At Blackstone High, Palmore was a stand-out athlete, lettering in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He graduated from Ferrum Junior College, where he achieved All-American Honors in Football.
Freddie was guard, middle linebacker, and co-captain of Blackstone High’s 1961 championship squad that went 8-0-1, with the tie coming the first game of the season against Park View, recalls former Rams QB David Hobgood , Class of 1963.
Maxie Williams , BHS Class of 1966, now of Chattanooga, Tennessee, recalls Palmore as an “all-powerful linebacker. He had one speed: all-out. He seemed to be in on every tackle.”
Off the field as well, Palmore was someone on whom others could count. “He was a gifted athlete and a truly nice, decent guy -- well-liked and respected by all,” recalls classmate Mary Rebecca Gravatt Crawford of Birmingham, Alabama. “He was very quick, a ferocious defender, and a great blocker on the offensive side. He also had a great wit, and could be really funny if he knew you well. He was a really good person.”
Charles Elliott , today of Key West, Florida, recalls, “When Freddie was a freshman, I saw him stand-up to some senior bullies in the smoking room and wouldn’t back down. He stood up for the guy who was being bullied. Impressive.”
Freddie received his Bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State and went on to earn his Master’s degree from Longwood College.
He was hired at age 22 to coach at newly-opened Kenston Forest School in 1966 and joined the staff at newlyconsolidated Nottoway High School in 1970. He went to Randolph-Henry in 1975, then Halifax County High School in 1977. Palmore spent the majority of his teaching and coaching career at Halifax, where he coached baseball, but is best-known for his contributions to the football program.
Palmore’s obituary recalls that his greatest passion was “coaching and having a positive impact on the young men in our community. He believed that hard work and dedication were paramount to the success of young men.”
According to the Gazette-Virginian, Palmore served as head coach of the Halifax High Comets football team from 1980 through 1988, during which time he guided the Comets football program to one nine-win season, two eight-win seasons, a pair of Western Valley District championships, and two appearances in the Virginia High School League Northwest Region play-offs.
In 1982, a season in which Palmore’s Comets team compiled an 8-2 slate, there had been only one other Comets football team in the previous three decades that had compiled a better won-loss record. Palmore’s best Comets team was the 1984 team, which finished 9-3 overall.
Palmore also coached the Comets in baseball and continued to serve as an assistant coach. Among Palmore’s former Comets players is Grayson Throckmorton , who coached at Nottoway from 2010-15. “Throck” today is the head football coach at his alma mater Halifax, and told the Gazette-Virginian that Palmore “touched many people in a lot of different ways throughout their lives, and made them better people.”
Palmore was preceded in death by his parents, Paul Beville Palmore and Frances Breedlove Palmore; and one brother, Harold Beville Palmore; all of Blackstone.
The Fred A. Palmore Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established at Benchmark Community Bank.
Online condolences may be directed to: www.powellfuneralinc.com