Garcia will be missed in community

Published 1:22 am Sunday, March 16, 2008

There are several words people use to describe Cathedral athletic director Roy Garcia.

Nice, energetic, dedicated and caring are just a few.

But when former Green Wave standout and current Atlanta Falcon Von Hutchins was asked to describe Garcia in just a few words, he replied with a new one.

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“He’s a ball of fire,” Hutchins said with a smile. “He has so much energy. He’s a really good man; sincere, honest and hard working.”

Perhaps those character traits are why hundreds of people filed into the Cathedral Elementary School cafeteria Saturday afternoon and evening in a retirement reception hosted by the school.

After 40 years at Cathedral, Garcia is retiring at the end of the school year and moving to McKinney, Texas along with his wife Sara to be closer to his grandchildren.

Garcia, wearing his Cathedral green sport coat and his trademark smile, was a bit taken aback by the huge crowd that gathered to say goodbye.

“This is unforgettable,” he said of the reception. “I feel fantastic.”

The reception featured many old pictures and clippings from The Natchez Democrat as well as a slide show of his years at the school, which began in 1968.

In those 40 years, Garcia touched numerous people not only at Cathedral, but across Natchez with his grace and character.

“I’ve had a bunch of people as me why we don’t move here instead of having him move out to us,” Garcia’s daughter-in-law Carolyn said with a laugh. “I know when I get to Heaven and the Lord says there was an angel among us the first person I will think of is him.”

Garcia’s son Michael said everyone he talked to only had glowing things to say about his father.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say the same thing, that he’s the nicest person they’ve ever met,” Michael said. “To hear that about your father is a very special thing.”

In his 40 years at the school, Garcia coached everything from football to baseball to tennis and golf.

He won five consecutive tennis state championships in the 1970s and his 1973 football team finished with a 9-1 record, which he considers his greatest accomplishment in coaching.

He considers his greatest accomplishment as an athletic director when Cathedral won the All-Sports award from the Clarion-Ledger several years ago.

But more so than the victories or the trophies were the relationships he made through the years.

As people browsed the old photographs and newspaper clippings, they told stories about Garcia, which always involved a smile and usually a laugh as well.

And those relationships he created in the community were realized with the massive turnout at the retirement reception.

“There’s a lot of former classmates who have come back to show their appreciation for him,” Hutchins said. “That just shows how much he was loved by the school and the community.”

So while coach Garcia will be moving to Texas, his memory and spirit will always live on in the halls of Cathedral.

His enthusiasm, class and dedication to the school and its students will remain for future generations.

Thanks, coach.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or