Coach Jelks, circa 1944
|Robert Mixon 'Bobby' Jelks|
|'Bobby' Jelks had Hall of Fame
career as coach, player
By JOHN McDOUGAL
P-I Staff Writer
Robert M. "Bobby" Jelks, who died at age 91 Thursday at his Paris residence, enjoyed a Hall of Fame career as a football coach and as a football and basketball player.
His name is associated with forging successful football programs during the 1940s and in 1950 at Grove High School,
formerly of Paris. His teams won almost 75 percent of their games (58-20-4) from 1942-50 at the school.
His undefeated 1949 team is still regarded as one of the
best teams if not the best in the county's history.
United Press International ranked the Grove team No. 1 in the state that year.
His accomplishments in football and
|After earning his' bachelor's degree, Jelks coached at Gleason
High School, Sallis, Miss., and Lexington High School.
He held a master's degree from George Peabody College in Nashville.
Following his years at Grove, Jelks left to be head football coach and basketball coach at Union.
When Union discontinued football, Jelks returned to Paris where he worked in the insurance industry starting in 1953. He purchased Paris Insurance Agency in 1958.
testimony to Jelks' popularity came in 1995, when a room at the Paris-Henry County
Heritage Center was named for him.
Bob Jelks earned respect of others
Former coach had
passion for 'his boys'
What set Robert Jelks apart from other men was his ability to inspire respect.
Whatever he did, whatever he said, wherever he went, others
Among the athletes whom he had coached at Grove High School, 'that respect amounted almost - to a cult following. His "players idolized' him,' and he responded with a deep affection ,for them all. The terms "Blue-Devils" and "Coach Jelks" will forever be closely linked.
Jelks lobbied hard and with no apology to get as many of his former players inducted into the Henry County Sports Hall of Fame as possible. If he failed to be as passionate about athletes he had not coached, it was out of his deep love for "his boys."
The respect he earned wasn't limited to athletics. As a business and civic leader, he was straight-arrow, a hard-working and committed man with a brilliant smile.
Jelks did not suffer fools lightly. He was good at enlisting others to join him in worthwhile civic projects, and he expected them to be as committed, as energetic and as capable of concentrating on the task at hand as he.
An example is the
Heritage Center, where he served as a trustee for years and kept an eye on every detail of
From the P-I ~ used by permission.
February 17, 2006 Edition
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