Atmore has had several great sports refs

Published 8:32 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Peanut McDonald, Jim Staff and Bobby Pinonni were only a few of the dedicated officials who were referees and umpires at local and area high school football and basketball games over the past 30 years.
And, I am sure they got much of their inspiration from Reggie Copeland, who was probably one of the most popular of all these officials. Well, who is Reggie Copeland? He is a former Mobile City Councilman who became known to sports buffs primarily as a high school and Southeastern Conference basketball referee and one of Mobile’s most dedicated councilmen. Dennis Smitherman, former Mobile Press sports editor, once called him “the most visible and energetic basketball official in the Southeastern Conference.” At the age of 80-plus years, he is taking a job in the business world.
I remember years ago, in a big basketball tournament here when Atmore was playing Greenville and our top shooter, James Hall, had control of the ball for the final 30 seconds of the game, needing to get off a final shot to eclipse a one-point deficit. Hall, with some of the most athletic moves I have ever seen, dribbled the ball in circles with Copeland following his every move. With a couple of seconds left Hall shot and missed the basket but Copeland blew his whistle, calling a foul on a Greenville guard. Hall rectified that missed shot and connected on his two foul shots to give the Devils the win. I remember that game well that night because I was there broadcasting the game on WATM.
This was one of many occasions we saw Copeland calling games here.
Following his election win to the Mobile City Council in 1985, he voted on many bills that benefited that city. But, his most recognizable efforts in that council capacity was helping bring Airbus to Mobile. This deed was important not only for Mobile but for all of us here in Atmore and the surrounding area.
So, we say thank you Reggie Copeland for your success as a sports official and for all your efforts in helping locate Airbus to the Deep South.
Now, I want to give you a few more short briefs from that Heritage 92 column last week and Atmore’s role in that series of events.
That Heritage tabloid offered several accounts and photos of early 1900s events. One of the photos showed Southern Escambia Hardware owners Robert Cruit and Dan Currie Sr., leading two mules to the watering trough situated in front of the store. Another photo was of Oloff and Albert Stanton, seated behind the wheel of a two-cylinder 1910 Maxwell automobile. It was only one of three of these cars shipped to Atmore and Albert purchased it from its original owner, A.M.Coley, for $75.
Also back in those days, the W.M. Carney Mill Company provided the city’s first water system. The first water tank was where Staff Chevrolet (now Chuck Stevens Chevrolet) is located. And, Carney Company also introduced our first electric lighting system, with 144 homes having electricity in 1915.
Another interesting story from that 1992 Atmore Advance publication was the story of Bateson Furniture Company moving to its new location at the corner of Highway 31 and South Trammell Street. The Luttrell family and 10 employees were featured in an accompanying photo of the firm.
A photo of Atmore’s 1948 Chamber of Commerce was also seen in that edition. The officers and members were A.P. Webb, Minor Corman, Fred George, B.J. Swift, George Bowab, Frank Currie, Cliff Bethea, Eddie Staff, R.B. Watson, Murray Greer, Frances Henry, H.H. Patterson Jr. and William F. Corman.
One of the real interesting stories in that publication was the story of C.P. Atmore, the man from whom our city got its name. The English-born Atmore came to this country at the age of 4, settling with his family in the Ohio-Kentucky area. His later years working for L&N Railroad brought him here, where his many work efforts with the railroad, city and charities greatly benefitted us and the town was named in his honor in 1897.
Again, thanks to Woodrow Pettis for furnishing us his copy of that Atmore Advance insert. It provided us some very interesting information on Atmore’s real early days.
The second round of the runoff election is over and I hope everyone is happy with the outcome. But it will not be totally over until after the general election in December. Let’s hope the eventual winner will represent our district in the most positive manner.
Next week, we will take a look at more news and events from days gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at

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