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UL coach Beryl Shipley remembered with 'happy' memorial

UL coach Beryl Shipley remembered with 'happy' memorial

Joshua Parrott, Daily Advertiser, April 23, 2011

Current UL Head Baskeball Coach Bob Marlin speaks with Dolores Shipley during a memorial service for her husband and former UL Basketball Coach Beryl Shipley Friday at First Baptist Church in Lafayette. Shipley coached at UL from 1957 to 1973. He passed away at his home Friday, April 15.  By Leslie Westbrook  April 22, 2011By Leslie Westbrook  April 22, 2011
Current UL Head Baskeball Coach Bob Marlin speaks with Dolores Shipley during a memorial service for her husband and former UL Basketball Coach Beryl Shipley Friday at First Baptist Church in Lafayette. Shipley coached at UL from 1957 to 1973. He passed away at his home Friday, April 15. By Leslie Westbrook April 22, 2011By Leslie Westbrook April 22, 2011

"I won't say goodbye. And I don't know that I'll miss him that much because he'll be with me forever."

Tom Cox
Former USL assistant coach on his former boss, Beryl Shipley

Hundreds of people gathered Friday to celebrate, remember and honor the life of former UL men's basketball coach Beryl Shipley during a memorial ceremony at First Baptist Church in Lafayette.

Shipley, who posted a 293-126 record as head coach for the Ragin' Cajuns from 1957-73 while building the program into a national power, died last Friday after battling lung cancer. He was 84.

Prior to his death, Shipley made a simple request for the setup of his memorial ceremony.

"He wanted it to be a celebration service," said Dr. Steve Horn, the pastor at First Baptist Church. "This was to be a happy time. He didn't want people to be sad."

There was a mix of emotions Friday as Shipley's family members, friends and former players spoke about a man who was a father, husband and son in addition to being a coach. Former LSU coach Dale Brown, current Cajuns coach Bob Marlin and current UL president Dr. E. Joseph Savoie were among those in attendance.

Shipley's daughter, Amy Shipley Cowand, delivered a heart-felt eulogy. She spoke about how her father taught his children to love music and about the importance of faith.

"He genuinely loved helping people," she said. "He was honest. " What you saw was what you got."

A collection of Shipley's former players traveled to Lafayette from all over the country to remember their old coach. Shipley stood tall during his tenure amid adversity, becoming the first coach from a historically white university in the Deep South to actively recruit black student-athletes. That move helped change the game of basketball.

Former Cajuns great Dwight "Bo" Lamar made the trip from Columbus, Ohio, to attend the memorial service.

"He was more than just a coach; he was a father figure for me," said Lamar, who scored a school-record 3,493 points for the Cajuns from 1969-73 and later played in the NBA and ABA. "I just needed to be here."

Lamar added that he knows Shipley "is in heaven and has 12 angels that he's trying to teach how to take a charging foul."

According to Lamar, Shipley's lasting legacy is "to do what you think is right in your heart no matter how many people think that it's wrong and just follow through with it."

Tom Cox, who was Shipley's assistant coach, read letters written by ex-Cajuns stars Jerry Flake and Marvin Winkler, both of whom were unable to attend Friday's ceremony.

Flake, the program's fifth-leading scorer with 2,058 points from 1965-69, wrote that Shipley "was a man ahead of his time. "At great risk to his career he was the first to allow deserving young black men to play basketball in the Gulf States Conference. He will be, and should be, remembered for this even more than for his wins."

Winkler was the first black player that Shipley ever signed and finished as the program's fourth-leading scorer with 2,128 points from 1966-70. He wrote that Shipley "was like a father to me and one of my closest friends. Without coach coming into my life in 1966, the Marvin Winkler that most of you know of and heard of would not exist."

Cox ended his personal reflection by saying "I won't say goodbye. And I don't know that I'll miss him that much because "he'll be with me forever."

Jimmy Dykes, a former player, assistant coach and longtime friend, met with Shipley two days before he died. Dykes said Shipley told him at that time "how blessed he was to have such a wonderful, loving family."

Shipley's college coaching career had a bitter ending. He resigned after the 1972-73 season, and soon after the NCAA imposed a two-year death penalty for the basketball program due to multiple rules violations.

While Shipley was long frustrated with how he left the college coaching ranks, Dykes said he "talked about how at peace he was with the Lord and the fact that he was ready to meet Him."

Marlin grew especially close with Shipley since he took over the program last spring, meeting on a regular basis to talk about basketball and life. He also played a role in bridging the past with the present for Cajuns basketball as the program celebrated 100 years of basketball in January with a reunion weekend.

"What a beautiful service today, a celebration of his life," Marlin said. "It was just the way he went about things and all of his teachings. He affected thousands of lives. " He meant a lot to me, and I'll take a part of him with me."

Jim Champagne, organizer of the 100-year basketball celebration, also spoke fondly of his longtime friend.

"My way of handling death is that Beryl is on a trip," Champagne said. "And that's how I'm getting through it."

Athletic Network Footnote:

Please click here for Coach Shipley's Athletic Network Profile.

Please click here for Shipley Footnotes from the 2011 Men's Basketball Reunion.

Click here for the Shipley Greeting video:

Click here for Beryl Shipley & Ron Gomez Announcing Slam Dunked


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