Beloved coach among AHS honorees
First in a series
A man who distinguished himself as an Andalusia High School athlete, and later as a teacher, coach and administrator, will be among the five people recognized next week with the Andalusia High School Outstanding Graduated Award.
Shelby Searcy was a 1947 graduate of AHS who returned to his alma mater following college and military service. He was an assistant coach of Andalusia’s 1958 state championship football team, and served as head coach from 1960-1964. Later, he was assistant principal of Andalusia High School and federal programs coordinator.
Searcy left Andalusia to become superintendent of Butler County Schools from 1973-1987, and was superintendent of Union City Schools in Mississippi from 1987-1991.
Throughout his life, he has been active in his church, first at First Baptist of Andalusia, and later in Greenville and Union. He previously was inducted into the AHS Football Hall of Fame.
Jim Krudop, who nominated Searcy, described him as a “man of character, highest Christian values, professionalism, trust-worthiness and integrity.”
“There is no doubt about it, Mr. Shelby Searcy is one of the finest role models who has graduated from Andalusia High School,” Krudop wrote. “As a master educator, he positively influenced students, faculty and administrations. Through his character and strong Christian beliefs, he affected leaders and others in his religious and civic communities.”
In a letter of support, Neal and Jennifer Dansby, who worked with him in education in Greenville, wrote, “Shelby Searcy took his own family from Andalusia, at that time a powerhouse academically and athletically, to a racially torn, impoverished school system in Greenville. Prior to his tenure, teachers and the superintendents had sent their own children to private schools in Greenville Mr. Searcy’s two sons not only survived, but thrived and flourished in that harsh environment. … Such commitment showed he intended to challenge the status quo and lead by example with his family.”
“During his tenure, Greenville emerged as a leader academically and athletically,” the Dansbys wrote.
They concluded, “Some bosses you work for. But if you’re lucky, with others you go to war. Shelby Searcy is a warrior with whom you would bleed in order for others to march on to a better life.”
Patrick Busbee, who graduated from AHS in 1966 and a member of Searcy’s track team, wrote that at 65, he continues to be a runner because of Searcy’s influence.
“Coach Searcy taught us discipline and competitiveness; but he also showed interest for the well-being of each individual he coached,” Busbee said.
When Busbee was diagnosed with a heart murmur, but wanted to play football, Searcy instead invited him to be the team manager.
“I deeply appreciate Coach Searcy’s personal concern and his offer to be a part of the team,” he wrote. “This experience showed me that no matter my circumstance, I can participate and make a difference.”
Ab Powell, who also played on Searcy’s teams, described him as an excellent role model for the entire student body.
“He is a genuine Christian who never flaunted religion, but always lived it – in good times, and in some times that were excruciatingly sad and painful,” he wrote. “He was a tower of strength that every student on campus looked up to and admired.”
Others who will be recognized as Outstanding Graduates at a luncheon on Friday are Richard Anthony, Suzanne Brown Fornaro, Roger Powell, and Suan Riley Salter.