Coach William Glenn Percy of 501 S. Sycamore in Iola passed away at his home surrounded by his family on Monday, June 23, 2014, after a lengthy battle with acute myelogenic leukemia.
William Glenn “Curly” Percy was born on Dec. 10, 1928, weighing in at 14 pounds on a farm near Carlyle. He was the fifth of the six sons of Mack Joseph and Pearl Pansy Latimer Percy. He grew up in a very loving family: he loved and respected his parents and grandparents; he loved and looked up to his older brothers, Robert, Carl, Eugene and Oscar; and he loved and looked after his little brother, Claude.
When he was a little boy, the family moved to town and in Iola he attended Lincoln Elementary School, Iola Junior High School and Iola Senior High School, graduating in 1946. At Iola High School he was a three sport letterman, playing varsity football, varsity basketball, and competing in track and field.
Outside of school (because it was not a school sport at that time) he played baseball in the summer leagues at the position of catcher.
After graduating high school, he played football for the Iola Junior College Red Devils (now Allen Community College) and earned postseason honors being named a Football Junior College All-American.
During the World War II years, he worked for Perham’s Men’s Clothing Store and Bell Telephone as a cable splicer. He also helped build the first KOAM-TV tower in Pittsburg.
In 1948, he joined the U.S. Navy (Naval Air). He played football for the Navy while stationed at the San Diego Navy Base and played in the All Navy Bowl in Norfolk. While at the San Diego base, he was the leader of 120 men, taking them through boot camp. After attending Naval Air Force rate schools at Corpus Christy, Memphis and Philadelphia Naval Air Stations, he was sent to Sangley Point Naval Air Station by Manila in the Philippines, where he was a Navy Beach Master during the Korean War. He was honored as a KOAM-TV 4-State Hero for his Naval Air Service.
While serving in the Philippines, he was catcher for the fast-pitch softball team on the base, as well (and their record was 51-1).
His stint in the Navy was also when he met his lifelong friend, Richard “Sandy” Saunders. After he was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1952, he returned to Kansas and played football for the Independence Junior College Pirates, where he still holds the record for the longest punt (86 yards). He met a girl in his hometown of Iola, and he was married to Jeanne Ann Masterson on June 12, 1954, at Iola’s First Christian Church.
After their wedding, he transferred to Washburn University, where he was a starter for the Fighting Ichabods football team, and the young couple lived in married student housing on the Topeka campus.
He graduated from Washburn with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He later earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Emporia State University.
He spent 48 years as a teacher (primarily of American government, but also of history, sociology, psychology, health and driver’s education) and coached baseball, basketball, softball and track and field, but with his main concentration on football at the high school, college and university levels throughout Kansas and Oklahoma (in Oklahoma for the Ponca City High School Wildcats, and in Kansas for the Pleasanton High School Blu-Jays, the Kingman High School Eagles, the Coffeyville Field Kindley High School Golden Tornado [two stints], the Hutchinson High School Salt Hawks, the Shawnee Mission East High School Lancers [two stints], the Wichita West High School Pioneers, the Iola High School Mustangs, the Yates Center High School Wildcats, the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons and the Ottawa University Braves.)
He also served as athletic director at Hutchinson Community College and Ottawa University. Throughout his years as a football coach, he received many accolades. He won several league championships, was named head coach at the Kansas Shrine Bowl two times, and was named head coach at the K.C. Big Brothers All-Star Game (where he got to coach his own son, Mark) and the Kansas City Metro Dream Classic, both of which are played at Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium.
He was awarded the Cecil B. Patterson Football Coach of the Year Trophy, the Kansas City Chiefs Coaching Award, and was scheduled to be the recipient of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame “Pride of Kansas” Award at the first Iola Mustangs home football game this fall, an award which is given to Kansas coaches and athletes who achieved a lifetime of greatness on the field of competition while maintaining the highest level of integrity in positively influencing the lives of youth in the state.
During his coaching years, he also refereed basketball games at high school, college and university level, participated in league golf play and tournaments, and played competitive fast-pitch softball. Each year during the summers he always held extra jobs, too: driving a cement truck, running a milk route, and then for many years, owning a house painting business.
He was a member of the American Legion, the Retired Kansas Coaches and Officials and the Senior Men’s Golf Group at Allen County Country Club. He began gardening with his family as a child (to put food on the table); first on the farm and then in the big garden plot behind his family’s house when they moved to town and lived at 507 N. Jefferson (where it remains to this day).
He loved to garden and always kept a big vegetable garden he shared with his whole family every summer (and which he was able to do through the end with the help of his friends, Joe and Cheryl Miller and the Sigg families). He and Jeanne were famous for the salsa they canned every year from their bountiful tomato crop.
Besides gardening, his hobbies included hunting, fishing, golf, crossword puzzles and reading. He was a voracious reader, especially of history, biographies and historical fiction. He also was a master of woodworking and created many beautiful heirlooms for his family.
He could fix just about anything that needed fixing, too, and the whole family counted on him for that. He enjoyed listening to jazz and country music, but his favorite style of music by far was the blues. He could jitterbug with the best of them, and he was a great dancer.
He could draw up blueprints and designs, and he loved to teach the kids and grandkids the old-time songs and sing with them all together (especially singing in the car on all the road trips we took). He attended the First Presbyterian Church in Coffeyville for a time when his children were young and he attended any church function involving his family but, for the most part, he found his communion with the Lord when he was out in nature — running his dogs out in the fields, traipsing through the woods and the meadows during a hunting trip with his family and friends, sitting by a pond or in a boat casting his fishing line, working in his garden, or walking a beautiful, green golf course at sunset. That is when he found his God.
Curly Percy is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jeanne Ann Percy, of the home; one son, Mark Tyler Percy, and his fiancée, Trina Smith, of Iola; and by three daughters, Mona Susan Percy Melvin of Iola, Jeanne Michelle Percy Johnson and her husband, Chuck, of Ottawa and Maureen Ann Percy Carroll of Lenexa.
He is survived by 11 grandchildren: Amy Lynn Finch and her husband, Charlie, Ottawa, Beth Ann Snethen and her husband, Scott, Pomona, Mallory Michelle Melvin, Lawrence, Marielle Maureen Melvin, Emporia, Richard “Rick” Joseph Carroll, Overland Park, Maggie Jo Stevens, Ottawa, Mack Joseph Melvin, Emporia, Marah Lenann Melvin, Emporia, Megan “Meggie” Maureen Carroll, Lenexa, Molly Kathleen Carroll, Lenexa, and Matthew Glenn Percy, Ottawa.
He also is survived by six great-grandchildren: Alex Wayne Trinkle, Austin William Trinkle, Grace Kathryn Snethen, Charles “Charlie” Duane Finch III, Klaira Gayle Hayes and Griffin William Snethen. He is survived by two stepgrandchildren: Tanner Johnson and Lane Johnson and by Trina’s daughter, Allison Sedore, and her husband, Mark.
He also leaves behind three brothers and their wives: Robert John Percy and his wife, Joan, Manhattan, Oscar Latimer Percy and his wife, Mary Jeanne, Phoenix, and Claude Orris Percy and his wife, Yvonne, Shawnee Mission; one brother- and sister-in-law, John Allan and Georgia Masterson of Iola; many nieces and nephews; his best friend, Richard “Sandy” Saunders and his wife, Juanita, of Independence; his former football players, whom he loved like family, and a host of friends including George “The Reverend” Levans, who checked on him almost daily throughout his long illness.
He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Robert and Permelia Farabee Latimer; his paternal grandparents Joseph and Mary Elliott Gervais, and John and Mathilda Elliott Percy; his parents, Mack Joseph (Gervais) and Pearl Pansy Latimer Percy; his brother, Eugene Mack Percy, and his wife, Ramona; his brother, Carl Leslie Percy; one niece, Jennifer “Jennie” McRae Masterson, two nephews, Michael Kirk Percy and Thomas M. Percy; and his father-and mother-in-law, Frank Loren and Leona May Baker Masterson.
Dear Curly, Daddy, Dad, Grampy, Bumpy, Pappy, Pap, Coach: We know that your spirit has not left us, but has moved inside our hearts to live forever, never to be forgotten. Thank you for all that you gave to us, all that you did for us, and for all of your wisdom and guidance and the love that remains with us. We will always love you and once we love someone they become a part of us. We will see you again someday but, until that day comes, we leave you with these words as your tribute:
“Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the fishing streams
And above the hills
The high windless sky
Now he is part of them forever”
– — Ernest Hemingway
The celebration of life ceremony will be at the Allen County Country Club, 1318 2000 St., Gas, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Family and friends are invited to speak and share a memory about coach if they wish.
Memorial donations may be made to The Coach Glenn Percy Ottawa University Football Scholarship at Ottawa University-Attn: Janet Peters, 1001 S. Cedar No. 16, Ottawa, KS 66067.
Cremation has taken place. Waugh-Yokum & Friskel Memorial Chapel of Iola is in charge of arrangements. To sign the guestbook online or leave a condolence, go to www.iolafuneral.com.