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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Remembering Doc

Clyde Partin Sr. 50C 51G passed away Tuesday afternoon. He was 84.

It’s not often we can see history up close, but that is what Partin was for more than half a century. Living Emory history.

Sure, Partin’s given name was Clyde (William Clyde, actually), but no one ever used it. Everyone called him “Doc” (which he was, having earned a PhD in education from Vanderbilt and serving on the Emory faculty for decades). Following his storied coaching and administrative career, Doc evolved into a patron saint of Emory athletics.

I talked to Doc maybe a dozen times since I came to Emory in 2000 (including at the 2006 Corpus Cordis Aureum robing ceremony above. I apologize for my hair, but Doc looks good).

Our most memorable conversation, at least in my mind, was one we had about baseball play-by-play guys. We were passing some time on the field at Chappell Park, home of Emory’s baseball team, and he asked me who my favorite team was. Talking about baseball was Doc’s very own national pastime.

I mentioned I was a Cubs fan, and he talked about meeting Harry Carey and what a fascinating experience that was. Doc said it was common for sports figures or announcers such as Carey to not only become synonymous with their teams, but also with the communities in which they lived. It was definitely true of Carey, and while he spent little time behind a mic or in front of a camera, as far as Emory sports goes (and in many ways Emory University), the conversation begins and ends with Doc Partin. Doc was, is, and always will be Emory athletics.

He loved the Eagles through and through, and they loved him back. Frequently, I’d see Doc at Emory basketball games. For the past couple of seasons, Doc needed a walker to get around, but it really didn’t slow him down much. He’d be sitting in the front row with friends, cheering, right next to the action. He even still made trips to the PE Center weight room. And Doc always wore Emory’s gold and blue.

Doc left his mark on Emory in so many ways. His name adorns the batting cages adjacent to his beloved Chappell Park and it graces the title of our athletics director. Yet, Doc’s most important contribution to our community was his simple presence in it.

Always humble, always approachable, always positive, always his love of Emory on his sleeve. And cap and jacket.

Emory will miss him. Goodbye, Doc.

-- Eric Rangus, director, communications, EAA

P.S. If you’d like to leave your own memory of Doc Partin, please leave a comment below. Thanks.


  1. Clyde's friendship made me a better person, colleque, friend and Mother. His door was always opened to me and my family. Clyde was also a wonderful friend and mentor to my 5 childern. My brother Ronnie; who was autistic,loved talking to Clyde @ Baseball. Clyde was so kind and patient towards my brother. When my brother passed away in 2000; I gave my brother's sports collection to Clyde; a perfect gift to a wonderful friend. Now my brother and Clyde are "talking baseball" in Heaven. I will miss you "old friend".
    Carla Chelko

  2. "A team of coaches and administrators from the gym were playing intramural softball on the lower fields in the early 90s. I was standing on 3rd base and Dr. Partin was getting ready to bat. I yelled to him, "Hit it to right field." Of course, he never ever in his life hit a ball to right field. He was a pull hitter to left field.

    Well, he swung and hit a screaming liner which landed right into my midsection. He then ran down to see about me and when I told him I was going to survive, he turned to walk back to the batter's box. He was about half way to home plate when he turned around and said with that little smile of his, "would that ball have been fair for a hit if it hadn't hit you?"

    He loved playing sports and competing.

    The Dean of the Gym is now gone and an era for Mr. Emory is over. He loved his family, Emory University, Coca-Cola, Atlanta Braves, Emory Baseball, playing softball, baseball and other sports. We will miss him greatly."

    Sandy Tillman
    former Associate Director of Athletics and Recreation

  3. 1962 was when I met Coach Partin when all freshmen were taking basic skills tests for P.E. He and Coach Cooper were always joking and entertaining anyone within earshot, but he took "Athletics for All" seriously. He put me into a weight-training class, taught me how to lift those heavy things without hurting myself, and ignited the spark that was to be flamed into my love of athletics and fitness from that time forward. He and Coach Cooper encouraged me to work with other independent students to form teams and let me use the mimeo machine to print the letters that resulted in the formation of IndO, the Independent Organization. He hired me to work with Mr. Hominall Carter, the gruff-on-the-outside/sweet-on-the-inside old man who worked in the locker room cage, exchanging clean for dirty towels, shorts and sweats. Through Partin's and Coop's encouragement, I became the coach for the IndO girls' Volleyball and Basketball teams. For ten years, our basketball team was a dynasty with an 86-6 record. Doc called me the "winningest coach in Emory history" when he gave a reference for me for a position at Millsaps College. For many others like me, he became a "father of the fatherless," a role model par excellence. His passing is a loss for Emory, but his friendship was such a benefit for so many of us alumni.
    Bill Chapman, BS 1966.

  4. I'm reminded of the beautiful words from the book, Tuesdays with Morrie - "Death ends a life, but not a relationship". . .Dr. Partin was all about relationships, and I can only imagine the countless lives he has touched at Emory and beyond. I met "Doc" in 1985 at Emory Sports Camp, and thanks to him, I've been teaching in the Physical Education Department ever since. Words aren't adequate to express the gratitude and respect I have for "Doc". I can think of no one with more integrity, enthusiasm, wit, and wisdom. . .thanks, Doc, for the laughter, the advice, and many memories over the years. You lived life fully and well, and you modeled commitment to meaningful work, to family, and to a life of service to others. Your legacy is strong and your ripple of influence continues.
    Kay Stewart

  5. I first met Dr. Partin in the fall of 1973 when I was a freshman on the varsity cross country team. It was lonely being away from home and I remember how welcome Dr. Partin made me feel. He was then and still is an icon at Emory.

    I had the pleasure of being on the track team with his son in my sophomore through senior years and the whole Partin family always made me feel welcome. I remember going to many Atlanta Braves' baseball games as his guest when he was also their official scorer. We shared many memorable times together.

    I will always remember and be thankful to Dr. Partin when he flew the cross-country team to NY to attend my brother's funeral.

    I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see him ten weeks ago when my daughter and I were in Atlanta for her campus visit to Emory. As usual, even though he was in rehab, Dr. Partin did everything he could to help her have an enjoyable visit and tour. I am so glad we visited when we did as how could we have known it would be our final visit.

    Dr. Partin was a unique person who will be missed by all who knew him.

    Steve Katz BA 1977

  6. As a member of the first group to begin (or renew) the baseball program at Emory in the mid-1980s, I can testify that Doc was instrumental in encouraging us in that arduous task. He is a fixture at Chappel Field and this year's Alumni Baseball game will have a distinct void with Doc not being there. On a more personal note, I discovered a deeper side to Doc after I became a United Methodist Pastor. He was a man of faith who never failed to ask me about my ministry and also to talk lovingly about his church and family. God be with the Partin family; and thank you Doc for everything.
    Rev. Steve Schofield, BA '88, M.Div. '97

  7. Thanks everyone for the wonderful memories. FOX 5 Atlanta ran a great retrospective on Doc during Wednesday night's broadcast. Click on the link below to check it out. (You might need to paste it into your browser.)



  8. Clyde Partin was my uncle and one of the finest men I know, next to my father. They came from the same hardworking family and instilled that same ethic in all (or most) of us. He was only 10 years my senior but as a child, and he a teenager, he taught me how NOT to catch a baseball! You always give way to the ball - that way your hands don't sting like fire! Even as a teen he was very patient and loyal. He and my Uncle Tommy were in the Navy together and brought me gifts from overseas. Because of my own poor health I have not seen Clyde recently and for that I will always be very sad. He was a wonderful, kind, gentle, witty person and has left a wonderful legacy for all. My love to you Clyde and the entire family.


  9. Clyde and I worked together for may years at Emory and with the Atlanta Braves. He was truly an inspiration to all and had a great influence on the lives of everyone he came in contact with. I am a better person for having known Clyde Partin. Thanks, "Doc" for everything.

    Mike Emery

  10. Doc did so much not just for Emory athletics, but also Emory recreation, such as intramuals, club sports, fitness, open rec, outdoor recreation, etc.

    Last year, I brought over James "Red" Moore, a Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame who played five seasons in the Negro Major Leagues, to visit Doc at his house. They talked for hours and hours. I thought I already knew most of his famous stories, but I heard 20 more incredible Doc Partin stories that day. It's amazing how many people he touched not just at Emory, but around the state and the rest of the country.

    He had a quiet humility. He may have been the last true "Southern Gentlemen". My family and I will miss him dearly.

    Dan Magee

  11. I knew Clyde for a fraction of time compared to those who have posted here, but I have been no less inspired by his example. Tom Brokaw had it exactly right when he characterized those who came of age when Doc did as The Greatest Generation. Doc's life of service to family, church, his country and Emory is one to be celebrated and emulated.

    Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.

    Brian McGuire

  12. Doc P, a friend, a hero, a legend. I first met him when I took a summer job at sports camp and was paired with him for the "games." I had to admit I was a little surprised about the incredible ability he had not only to capture the kids attention, but to involve himself in the games with the kids. He never yelled or seemed frustrated but always, endlessly, and throughout the rest of the time I was privileged to know him demonstrated a patient and enduring love toward people and within sports. He was, to me, a father and grandfather supporting my athletic career, my eating habits (at Evan's and Chili's), and was at, and involved in every graduation from Emory. I think about the way people come into and influence your life often and particularly, the way he has influenced mine. It was with wide open arms and a family of support he brought into mine and reached through me to my parents and friends as well. As Coach Curtin said to me, "He is the man I've always wanted to be." And, we will all keep trying to emulate the incredible example of love he was, and will continue to be.
    Love ya Doc!

  13. Dear, Dear Doc..
    I will never forget meeting you in the training room at the Woodpec, four long years ago. There you were, riding the bike as, you explained, you did everyday. I asked you politely about your life, your wife, and your grandkids, and you immediately probed back: "yes, yes, but when are you girls going to win us a championship?" Since that first fateful meeting our small rendez-vous have meant more to me than you could know. Your great big hugs made my days, and your laugh always always made me smile. Thank you for loving Emory, the Atlanta community, and all of your students so dearly. Most of all, thank you for your kind note of encouragement after we did finally win the volleyball championship. I will never forget you Doc. You truly are an inspiration to us all. I'll see you in heaven :)
    With neverending Love and Admiration,

  14. Eleven years ago, Doc was throwing batting practice to me and my teammates. Doc was and is an inspiration on how to live. I miss him.

  15. Good Morning to All
    Many thanks for all of the above comments. I believe that he saw coming to work every day as his own fountain of youth. Hanging out with students, colleagues and the athletes kept his outlook youthful.
    Kind regards
    Clyde Partin JR

  16. Doc will be missed so very much. He and Betty were so sweet to Lily and me while we were at Emory. I'll never forget my first week on the job when he offered to vacate his(emerti) office space at the WPEC in case I/the program needed it. That's the kind of giving, unselfish person he was. When it came to doing what was best for Emory he was a fair and caring leader. We are so blessed to have known him.
    Former AD (2004-07), Betsy Stephenson

  17. Emory and Atlanta will miss this loyal alumnus and model citizen. I had the privilege of playing both baseball and softball with Doc over the years. I enjoyed his gentle humor and fierce competiveness. Doc showed us all how to live a life of service to our community and to be balanced in our day to day living. Congratulations Doc on a life well lived.

  18. Doc's Fairness and Sense of Humor:

    Doc worked 31 years with the Atlanta Braves in various capacities. One year he was the Official Scorer. The shortstop that year used to regularly visit Doc in the Scorer's Booth after the game when Doc would charge him with an error. One time the shortstop asked Doc to review a play and Dr. Partin said in his dry wit, "ususlly when a player lets the ball go under his glove and through his legs, an error is charged to the player." The shortstop said, "but Doc, the ball was hit very hard." Dr. Partin just chuckled and the error stayed in the box score.

  19. I haven't seen Dr. Partin in several years, but I have kept up with him through his eldest son. Clyde Jr. and I went through high school together and that is where I met this amazing man and his family.Many times he would get us into the Braves games and the scorers box as well as numerous events at Emory. Many meals at their home and many great memories. As much as I respect him for all he did for Emory, his amazing family is a testament to his success.There are no better people than Mrs. Partin, Betsy,Clyde and Keith. We need more like him. He will be missed.

  20. Doc was and will always be a legend of Emory that I have grown up admiring. The first time I met Doc at Emory Sports camp, Coach Curtin told me that he could throw a baseball so far that it could hit the satellite on top of Peavine. I knew this guy was important! Over the years, however, as a returning camper, I learned that Doc was important for much more than just throwing a baseball. Doc's consistently humble, humorous, and open-armed personality towards his surroundings is what I will remember him for most. For a man of his stature to take time out of his day to converse with me, a kid, is a gesture that I am forever humbled by. Doc listened to my dreams of one day playing soccer for Emory, and always supported me in my pursuit. Doc led by example, and I will forever strive to follow him.
    -Hannah Hooten

  21. Steven Howard, C'78June 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    Clyde - may your father's memory continue to be a blessing to you and your family. Your dad helped to define our Emory experience.

  22. We have just passed a year since my dad's death. I wish all of you could know how much it means my mom and my brothers to be able to go back and read your memories of Daddy. How lucky we were to have such a wonderful father, and how lucky we are to have such memories to relive. Thank-you.

    Betsy Partin Vinson