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Only weeks after the 60th anniversary of Vine Grove High School’s lone trip to the pinnacle of Kentucky basketball, the team’s coach and a community leader has died.
Chet Redmon, who later taught, coached and served as a principal in Hopkinsville and Bowling Green, died Friday at his home in Warren County. He was 90.
His funeral is at 10 a.m. CDT today at First Baptist Church in Bowling Green.
He’s remembered around Vine Grove as a leader and person of good humor who knew when to be direct and when to allow kids to be kids.
He and his new bride, Anne, arrived in Vine Grove in 1948 right out of Western State Teachers College. He coached basketball and baseball while teaching English and physical education and served as an assistant principal.
“He was more than a teacher and coach. He was a mentor,” said Donovan Smith of Vine Grove. “He helped guide a lot of young boys and made them aware of life and success.”
Redmon coached the Vine Grove Blue Devils basketball team from 1948 to 1958 recording a record of 159 wins against 127 losses. The highlight was the 1952 team that won the region title and advanced to the State Tournament, the only time in the school’s history.
Charlie Deaton, who played on four consecutive 20-win teams under Redmon, said the coach’s demeanor made him a role model.
“As I look back on it, he was able to motivate you without beating you down,” Deaton said. “He did it through encouragement.”
Russell “Pug” Hargan, who was a substitute on the Sweet 16 team 60 years ago, describes Redmon as “a great leader.”
Hargan said Redmon was firm in his direction but knew “when to turn his head sometimes” and allow the boys to have fun. “But when he said no, he meant no. He wasn’t wishy washy.”
Concentration on fundamentals and structured, disciplined practices were cited by Bill Darragh, who starred on the basketball court at Vine Grove High and later for the University of Louisville.
“He worked hard himself and insisted you did too,” Darragh said Monday.
Looking back on his days at Vine Grove and basketball in general during a 2009 interview, Redmon emphasized a personal value.
“From my standpoint, one thing hasn’t changed,” he said. “If you work hard, the rewards will come.”
Hargan also noted that both Chet and Anne Redmon were active in the community. While serving as coach, Redmon also served one term as mayor of Vine Grove.
He continued to be involved in the community in later career stops. His obituary lists leadership roles in the development and fund-raising for a new high school in Hopkinsville in 1963 and a similar campaign seven years later at Bowling Green High. He served as principal at both schools and was active in the Kentucky Association of Secondary School Principals, including a one-year term as president.
He also served as president of Bowling Green’s Board of Ethics and worked on behalf of charities including the American Cancer Society, Gideons International and the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children.
Redmon was born June 2, 1921, in Louisville where he was enshrined in 2004 in the Male High School Hall of Fame. After graduating in 1939, he briefly worked for L&N Railroad before becoming a minor league pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. When World War II began, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and spent most of his military service in India, according to his obituary.
Survivors include his wife, their four children and nine grandchildren.
Ben Sheroan can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or firstname.lastname@example.org.