One of Mississippi’s greatest basketball coaching legends has died.
Former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College men’s basketball coach Bob Weathers died on Thursday at the age of 86 at Merit Health Wesley at the age of 86.
His wife, Tommie Jean, posted her thoughts on Facebook on Thursday night.
“My soulmate, and love of 62 years, Bob Weathers, passed away,” she wrote. “Our hearts are breaking for our loss, but rejoicing in the knowledge that he is no longer suffering and in pain. God has taken him to a better place, and this was his decision. He was ready and looking forward to Heaven.”
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At the age of 28 on July 20, 1960, Weathers was hired to take over as head coach at Perkinston Junior College. He continued in that role until his retirement in 2002.
In his over four decades of coaching in Perkinston, Weathers compiled 868 wins, 329 losses, 15 division championships, nine state titles and three Region 23 championships. He also earned fourth-place and fifth-place finishes in the NJCAA national tournament.
He was the winningest coach in the NJCAA at the time of his retirement when he was replaced by his son, Wendell, as head coach.
Patrick Wilcher, who worked on Wendell’s staff at Gulf Coast for 10 years starting in 2006, said Friday that elder Weathers’ presence was felt at the Perkinston school long after his retirement.
“I think he had the ability to adapt over the years,” said Wilcher, who is now a mathematics professor at MGCCC. “He was a tough coach. There’s no question about it. When you listen to former players and their stories, Bob was a tough, disciplined coach. The players also knew he cared about them. He would fight for them anytime they needed it. That allowed him to be tough on them.
“Every player that ever had the privilege of playing for him had admiration for him. I think that’s the thing that stands out. That’s what you want as a coach. The wins and losses take care of themselves. Former players come and talk about the old days and they have a lot pride in being part of the Gulf Coast program.”
The MGCCC gym was renamed the Weathers/Wentzell Center on Oct. 25, 2007.
Weathers was born on Sept. 16, 1932, in Hattiesburg and grew up in the Oak Grove community. He was an all-state basketball player at Oak Grove High School as a senior in 1950 and lettered for four seasons at Mississippi Southern (now Southern Miss).
He served as the freshman basketball coach at USM from 1955-57 and also worked as a graduate assistant for the team. Weathers served as the head basketball coach at Picayune High School for one season prior to taking over at MGCCC.
When Weathers retired on June 30, 2002, he had worked at the school for 41 years, 11 months and 10 days. That set the 20th-century record for service to the school.
Weathers is a member of five different halls of fame: NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame (1994), USM Sports Hall of Fame (1995), Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame (1999), MGCCC Athletic Hall of Fame (1999) and the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame (2007).
Wendell replaced him as head coach in 2002 and remains in charge of the program. He has a career record of 277-148 and is also a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He played for his father from 1976-78 and was part of a state championship squad.
“He and his son have led the program for almost six decades,” Wilcher said. “That’s something special that you don’t see anymore. I always had a lot of pride in being part of it.”
Weathers is survived by his wife, Tommie Jean, Wendell, his daughter-in-law, Tammie, and three grandchildren — Ross, Rob and Emily.
He was preceded in death by his sons Richard Anthony “Tony” Weathers and Robert Wayne “Little Bob” Weathers.
Visitation begins at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1
Where: Big Level Baptist Church
Service: 2 p.m., Big Level Baptist Church
Burial: Woodlawn Cemetery, Wiggins
Note: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Tony and Bob Weathers Scholarship Fund at MGCCC, P.O. Box 99, Perkinston, MS, 39573.