Devoted coach, Gene Akins, passes away

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By By Lowell McGill
Back in the 1960s-1980s Atmore’s Little League and Babe Ruth teams were known throughout the state for their participation and winning many tournaments.
One of the leaders and renowned coaches of these teams was Gene Akins.
Gene died last week.
He devoted 25 years of his life coaching young boys, some of whom went on to outstanding college baseball careers.
A native of Monroe County, he moved to Atmore in the 1960s to be near his job at Monsanto. It did not take him long to become involved with our youth programs. The young boys wanted to play for him because he instilled that attitude necessary to be a winner. You would always find him during his off work hours on the ball field. He thoroughly enjoyed helping those boys become excellent ball players.
Gene also played a leading role in our Pee Wee Football programs. He developed many winning teams and delighted in taking his teams to other towns to play in what was known as “road team tournaments”.
Leaving Atmore in the late 1980s he moved to Pensacola where he retired with 33 years of service. Even there, at his new home, we are told he continued coaching young boys. He stayed involved with youth programs until his health began to fail a few years ago.
A detail of his funeral, held last week, was carried in our obituary section.
Now, let’s take a look at some nostalgic happenings from 1955.
Atmore began a “housing boom” that year as people moved here, bought homes, and had a much shorter drive to work in nearby towns, especially to Monsanto and the ‘paper mill” in Cantonment
Many times at the close of our broadcast day I could see new homes under construction there at the end of East Craig Street. Only a year or so before this, looking out the WATM windows, I could see swaying tall pine trees everywhere. No hospital, no doctors office no drug stores- just “woods. “
Bubber Bowab became affiliated with his mother, Mrs. L.F. Bobab, at the “Economy Shop”. This was one of several family operated clothing businesses in those days.
Johnny Hoehn at “Hoehn’s trading Center” introduced a new tubeless tire. This firm was the Firestone Store and also carried home appliances.
Leroy Wiggins, through Perdido River Soil Conservation Department, presented a unique program to help Northwest Florida farmers better utilize their farm lands. Jack Liles and Langley Bell were two recipients of Leroy’s program.
S.Y Bagley was named new manager of Bedsoles Dry Goods Store. Bill Gordy, the former manager was transferred to a store in Clark County.
W.C. Howell was cited for his outstanding sales with Hines Realty Company and Dr Cecil Thornbloom received an award for “helping those with nervous conditions”. He was a leading chiropratic here in 1955.
The First National Bank celebrated 40 years of outstanding service to the community.
Currently some of the officials in Baldwin County were stunned by what may be a change in their plans for Highway 83. It was to be an extension on the Foley Beach Express which would provide another storm evacuation route. Initial plans were to bring the route near the second Bay Minette I-65 exit. But just last week the Alabama Department of Transportation “unveiled an alternate proposed route that would carry the extension further east concluding at the Atmore exit”.
Now would not this be something if you could one day jump on that highway and drive directly to the Gulf without a traffic hassle?
I see where many in the state are still waiting on their state income tax refunds. An internet report stated the state of Alabama missed its July 15 deadline for mailing out these tax return checks.
I also found in that same internet site that those on Social Security may be in line for another $250 stimulus payment. According to the report it would be part of a second stimulus package similar to the one given earlier this year. Now, who do you suppose is driving that proposal?
Embattled Bobby Bowden has found support to keep his job from a surprising source. Florida governor Charlie Crist has told Florida State not to listen to those calling for him to step down as coach of the Seminoles. The Alabama native has been the head man there since 1976.
I see where there is a shortage of pumpkins this Halloween. Agriculture officials said this week “pumpkin raising “was not as prolific as last year. If that be the case you better purchase one early when you find them at your favorite store.
The answer to last week’s mystery question was of course Curries. They were known as the “Checkerboard store”. Thanks, again to all who emailed and called me with the correct answer. I did have one person to email me thinking the answer was the “American Legion building”. His reason for that answer is because he said he ‘played many a game of checkers down at the Legion Hall”.
Here’s a question for you. Who had the telephone number()1) One as their home phone number back before Southland Telephone Company introduced the automated phone system?
I’ll have the answer and more nostalgic news next week.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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