John  B.  Hooper

Tributes Page


John  B.  Hooper was in the graduating  Grove Class  of  1948.

John was inducted in the second annual induction program (1995) of the
Paris-Henry County Sports Hall  of  Fame.
(See bottom  of  this  page)




- Strong football legacy began with John Hooper

A legend in Tennessee's coaching annals, John B. Hooper, died, Saturday after a long illness. Hooper, 69 more than any other West Tennessee secondary school coach earned the Title "Mr. Football" for compiling one of the most impressive coaching resumes in state history.

Hooper was a charter member of the Brownsville States-Graphic Sports Hall of Fame and was recently inducted into the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

He is a member of the Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Jackson-Madison County Hall of Fame this week.

Hooper earned 10 varsity letters in basketball, football and track in Grove High School in Paris, Tennessee (Class of 1948), before setting a Union University record when lettering 14 times in Baseball, basketball, football, track and Tennis.

Although he coached at Old Hickory Academy in Jackson, Hardeman County Central (Bolivar) and Chester County, it was Haywood High School in Brownsville where Hooper built a reputation as one of the state's best coaches.

Hooper began his coaching career at Bolivar Central and quickly developed a football program that led the state in scoring, marking the first time in school history that the program showed in the top 20 poll in the state.

At Haywood High School, Coach Hooper's teams were ranked in the top 10 for 14 consecutive seasons while he compiled a 140-28-2 record between 1955 and and 1970.

During his tenure, his teams played nine consecutive post-season bowl games, four undefeated seasons, five Big Ten Conference championships and 14 Straight seasons ranked in the state's Top 10. During his time in Brownsville, Haywood had 46 players receive college scholarships, 22 all-state players and seven high school All-America selections. He coached in the 1969 TSSAA All-Star game and his 1969 team was ranked 12th in the nation. Hooper and his former wife, Velva, have two sons, David, who played football at Tennessee Tech and lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and Trell, Who played at the University of Memphis and lives in Memphis.

He is also survived by a brother Joe Hooper of St. Louis, MO. and two sisters, Ethel Lou Hall and Mary Nell Wimberly, both of Paris, Tennessee, and several grandchildren.


More than a coach - a "winner-maker"


A tribute to John B. Hooper

by Dr. Robert Brooks
Special to the
Brownsville States-Graphic

John B. Hooper was born to coach football. For 20 years he was the best high school football coach anywhere. Hooper ate, slept and breathed football.

John Hooper died last Saturday, but in reality he died when he left his last coaching job at Chester County. Hooper made Brownsville proud. During his 16 years at HHS, you knew Haywood would field a fine football team ... not necessarily a talented team or a large team, just a winning team. Everyone gathered at the games on Friday night to cheer their beloved Tomcats.

Sports enthusiasts around the Mid-South knew of Brownsville because of it's success on the grid-iron. For 14 of his 16 seasons at Haywood, Hooper's teams were ranked in the AP's top 10.

A disciplinarian, Hooper commanded respect and got it without ever uttering profanity. He ignored collegiate positions and shunned the spotlight for the most part. Coach Hooper had friends but found security in watching films and diagramming plays. Few people knew John B. Hooper but we all know he was a great football coach. He will be missed but his records and accomplishments will never be forgotten. John B. Hooper put Brownsville on the map in the football world and we are still there today.

Young men from Haywood County played for Hooper in 140 contests and all of us can be proud of what they accomplished together.

As a teenager, like most HHS football players, I was afraid of Coach John Hooper. Fear of disapproval motivated most of us. Today's players can't be intimidated and fear no one. Unfortunately, few coaches demand the kind of respect Hooper commanded.

Among skills I learned from Hooper were to stick to a job, rehearse it and strive for success. All impacted my life after high school. There was no quitting in Hooper and he instilled that in his players too.

I was an average athlete who was given a chance to play SEC football because of John Hooper. He wanted the best for his teams and his players. I am thankful I had the chance to play for the best and will always be proud of the success our teams had.

I didn't enjoy the long, hard practices without water, the mile run, or the tongue-lashing that followed a mistake. But I loved the results. Success is fun.

John B. Hooper secured the tradition that made Brownsville a football power-house. I'll always remember my football days at HHS, grateful that I had the privilege of playing for the best.

I can still feel the presence of Hooper squatting along the sidelines of every HHS game, peering through the black-rimmed glasses, chewing on some grass and guiding the Tomcats through another campaign.




Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Hooper mastered his craft

by Dan Morris, Jackson Sun Sports Editor

Velva Hooper was sure John Hooper would want his ashes scattered across Haywood High's football field in Brownsville.

But John decided the peaceful waters of the Hatchie River, where he sank many a fish hook would suite him better. The family gathers there for a final farewell to a father whose life touched hundreds in 31 years as a prep football coach.

John Hooper died peacefully in his sleep Saturday morning after a painful struggle with his illness. He died at the home of his former wife, Velva Hooper. After 31 years of marriage, she and John divorced 15 years ago. But "Miss" Velva always took care of John, especially as the end drew near.

"We were better friends after divorce," she said. That's the kind of relationship we had."

John was cremated Monday, one day after visitation drew hundreds to Brownsville Funeral Home. "Miss" Velva was stunned by the number of folks who attended visitation on such short notice.

"I'm so glad and thankful we decided to do it," she said. "Probably the happiest time of our life was when he was coaching football at Brownsville. With all his former players there Sunday, I told someone, "It's a wonder he doesn't raise up out of the casket and say, "Huddle up."

A Coaching Wizard

John Hooper was the Master among high school football coaches. John Tucker, who became the winningest prep football coach in Tennessee history last season, used to bug Hooper in the early days, picking his brain for ideas. "He knew little things that other people didn't think about," Tucker said. "He simplified everything and was thoroughly prepared. He was smart, tough on kids and tough on himself."

Hooper had a 218-100-3 record (.683 winning percentage), including a 140-28-2 mark in 16 seasons at Brownsville.

He loved his sons, David and Trell, Seven grandchildren and "Miss" Velva and he loved his cabin by the river.

When he told Velva what to do with his ashes, she said, "Well, you've caught enough fish out of the Hatchie. It's time you put something back."

John laughed and waited to bait another hook.




The Jackson Sun
Apr 20, 1998

Great honor bestowed upon Hooper

The late John Hooper, who coached football for 31 years and won more than 200 games, will be among five people inducted into the Jackson-Madison County SPORTS Hall of Fame tonight.

Long-time official  Buddy Patey will accept the honor for Hooper who died Saturday at age 69.

"It's a a great honor for him," said his former wife Velva. "He knew about it, and was very pleased. He was looking forward to the ceremony and trying to get well to go (tonight.)"

The induction banquet, at the Jackson Civic Center, is at 6:30 p.m.

Hooper coached for Bolivar, Old Hickory Academy, Hardeman County Central and Chester County but spent the bulk of his career in Brownsville.

With the Tomcats, Hooper directed the team to a 140-28-2 record. The Tomcats had five undefeated seasons during his 16 years, winning six conference championships, 10 consecutive bowl games and two state titles. His 1969 team was ranked number 12 in the nation.

Hooper coached from 1952-87 compiling a 218-100-3 record. He coached both his sons, David and Trell, with Trell going on to play at Memphis State University. Trell also went on to play for Miami of the NFL. David played at Tennessee Tech.

Not only an accomplished coach, Hooper earned 10 varsity letters at Grove High School in Paris, Tennessee. He went on to earn 14 more letters at Union University - the most ever by a student-athlete at Union.

He retired from coaching in 1987, going on to serve as an advisory coach at Jackson Central-Merry and Humboldt. He was inducted into the Brownsville Hall of Fame in 1990. Hooper is also in the Paris-Henry County Sports Hall of Fame (inducted in 1995) and the TSSAA Hall of Fame.



Five new members will be inducted
into the Jackson-Madison County
Sports Hall of Fame
during the 13th
annual banquet today at 6:30 p.m.
at the Jackson Civic Center.

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell
is the guest speaker.
Tickets are available at the door
for $30.

This years inductees are:

David Blackstock
Sam Greer
Robin "Muggs" Coffman
- The late -
John Hooper
- The late -
Mildred Spivey Waite


This tributes page added  by  Don  Alphin
(John Hooper  was  Don's  football coach  at 
Hardeman County Central (Bolivar) in the early 1950's)



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Paris-Henry  County
Sports  Hall  of  Fame


James “Jim” Cullivan
John B. Hooper   
Dan King
Dwight M. “Mickey” Norman
Lamar Roberts