Mr. Estes will be greatly missed

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, October 11, 2007

Glenvall Estes’ name is a legend with sports writers. He wrote his column for The Natchez Democrat, “Just Talkin’” for 57 years and also covered sporting events as a part-time sports writer. He wrote only kind and positive words about everyone, and I felt our community owes him some more kind and positive words.

I was in New Orleans for a Saints football game when his son Terry called to tell me of his death. I knew that his health had declined and it was only a matter of time. When we got back to Natchez, I also had a message on the answering machine from his son Don. It brought back so many thoughts, and I wanted to share those I know about that made Glenvall Estes “The Man.”

Glenvall and Lorene married when he was barely 16 and she was 15. He and “the love of his life” were married for 68 years. He started working at Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company when he was an underage 17. Someone told management he was not old enough to work there, but he was such a good worker that Mr. Foley wanted him to stay. It was suggested that Glenvall go to court and have himself declared an adult. After being off just a few days, he went back and stayed 30 years.

Email newsletter signup

During his time at Armstrong, he followed his love of sports and Norman Matthews, as sports editor of The Natchez Democrat, asked him to start covering games and a year later he started his column. When he left Armstrong, Highway Commissioner Shag Pyron asked Glenvall to be his assistant and public relations manager. This position was held for eight years until his election as Adams County Tax Collector and served for 13 years. As an elected official and community leader, he always tried to give back to Natchez and Adams County. His sons Don and Terry have done the same thing with their public involvement. I had the pleasure of working with him on many projects while serving as mayor. As deacon eneritus of the First Baptist Church and a mason, he was very active with his faith.

After retirement from public office, Lorene and he loved to travel and especially to Branson, Mo. Many of his columns told about these trips. Their van had the tire on the back and the cover had the words “Just Talkin’.”

When George West Jr. wrote his excellent letter to the Natchez Democrat, it brought back to me that Glenvall Estes also wrote about black athletes in a time of history when it wasn’t done. He only saw an athlete and a person and not the color of their skin.

My life seems to have been involved with the Estes family for years. From junior high with Glenvall writing about their teams, to the time I served in the mayor’s office and his dad Calvin and brother Herman working with the city also. His mother, Irene, died at a very early age, but he worked to keep the family together and as a family.

When Glenvall received his award from the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, of which he was a charter member, our speaker from the national office, said he was amazed that someone who was a tax collector could be so liked.

But his “Just Talkin’” columns were where he liked to talk about our area and sports. My wife Annette and others have always said that “When Glenvall Estes dies all of you old athletes will die with him.” I would have preferred they use the term “older.” However, it may not be true as I understand that his daughter Jeanne Estes is working to put all of his columns on the computer.

As most of you know, he used an old underwood typewriter and used the hunt and peck system to write. One of his columns, that we use to talk about, was in 1953 and our football team had defeated Columbia and the headlines said that we won 42 to 0. The sub headline was supposed to be “The Fast and Shifty Natchez High School Rebels,” but he misspelled “Shifty.” We took a lot of kidding about that.

When he announced his last column on Sunday, July 25, 2004, I was quoted as saying, “I never stopped calling him Mr. Estes, just out of the respect I have for him.” He tried many times, especially after I was elected mayor, to get me not to call him Mr. Estes. I never did.

Good bye for now — Mr. Estes.

Tony Byrne is a former mayor of Natchez.