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School library to dedicate plaque to honor coach

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 26, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Lebanon High School is scheduled to dedicate a plaque Friday at 9 a.m. in the library to honor the late Joe Gwynne Atkinson, a former head football coach at the school.

The Joe Gwynne Atkinson Fund was established in 2005 at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee as a way for friends to permanently memorialize the man known as “Coach.” Proceeds from the fund have gone toward building resources at the school’s library for both students and faculty.

Atkinson, who died Oct. 10, 2001, dedicated his life to helping his community. He served on the board of directors of the Kiwanis Club of Lebanon, the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, and the Walton Trail District of the Boy Scouts of America. He was chairman of the city of Lebanon’s Recreation Committee and was instrumental in the development of Baird Park, a youth baseball complex.

Through the years, Atkinson came in contact with a number of famous Americans. He served in the U.S. Navy as a PT boat captain alongside another PT boat captain, John F. Kennedy, who went on to be elected president. Atkinson also worked as an assistant football coach at the University of Kentucky alongside Paul “Bear” Bryant, the legendary University of Alabama head coach.

Atkinson was a graduate of Lebanon High School and Vanderbilt University, where he played football and served as team captain. He began at Lebanon High as head football coach prior to the 1950 season. Although he only coached at the school for three successful seasons before taking a position as plant manager at Lux Clock Manufacturing Co., he made a lasting impression on the young men he coached.

To give to the Joe Gwynne Atkinson Fund, contact the Community Foundation at cfmt.org.

The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit cfmt.org.

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