By Mike Sparks
(Featured Photo Credit to DNJ.com)
Mr. Robert “Bud” Raikes will be a guest speaker Saturday, July 20th at the Smyrna Library. I was glad to see that Marty Luffman had invited him along with Ginny Williams, Anna King and Patty Short to also be guest speakers.
For those of us who grew up in Smyrna knew Mr. Raikes as our beloved Smyrna High School Principal.
The older folks (You know who you are) knew him as, “Coach Raikes.” Mr. Raikes was known for being very strict and ran a great school. It wasn’t uncommon to see him walk a few hundred feet to pick up a piece of garbage, even a straw wrapper on the school grounds.
Sadly, Mr. Raike’s wife, Margaret passed away last year after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. They lived a true love story and were married for 59 years. He stood by her side throughou
t her illness. I recall him sharing with me after a Smyrna Rotary Club meeting the challenges of someone living in an assisted living facility and how short-staffed many nursing homes and facilities are.
I have experienced his same concerns as I have seen firsthand with my sister Vickie, who suffered a terrible fall last year and went into a coma. Fortunately, Vickie came out of the coma after two months. She suffered a brain injury and still cannot walk today. Vickie was an awesome athlete playing softball for Smyrna High School.
I recall her team being state runner ups in the state finals and she was named “Most Valuable Player” that year. Needless to say, it is very difficult seeing my sister and her not knowing my name and being unable to walk. Many thanks to Rhonda Gleason Edgerton for being a good friend and always checking on her.
During my tenure as a former county commissioner and now as a state legislator one of my issues is to help bring awareness to the issue of the fatherless and importance of mentorships. That issue is a topic that Bryan Barrett and I have discussed on WGNS Smyrna Issues radio show for the past 13 years.
This year I invited our new Parkway Baptist Pastor, Brother Shelby Hazzard to lead the invocation at the Tennessee General Assembly. The following Sunday, Marty Luffman had asked the pastor if he could say a few words and asked me to join him. Marty had mentioned to the congregation of the great job that their pastor did at the state capitol. While I was standing there I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Raikes sitting in the church pew. He has attended Parkway Baptist Church a few times. I often refer to these moments as “God wink Moments” or “synchronicity.”
After seeing Mr. Raikes I brought up the fatherless and mentorship issue, which sadly, in my opinion is not often discussed in the pulpit today. Many may not realize the strong link between juvenile crime, drug addiction, high school dropout rate, teen pregnancy and incarceration of those who grew up without a positive male role model figure in their lives. In many young lives that positive role model may be a coach, a teacher, a step-father, scout leader or neighbor.
I shared the story with the congregation of Mr. Raikes “busting my tail” (paddling) back in the day while I was attending Smyrna High School. Once for fighting in the lobby right in front of his office and another time when a guy was caught cheating off of me. I recall a few weeks later I was walking down the hall at Smyrna High School and Mr. Raikes walked up beside me and placed his arm over my shoulder and said, “Mike, I’ve always heard that you are very polite young man.” Those words of encouragement, even to this day meant a great deal to me.
After a Rotary Club meeting a few years ago. I said, “Mr. Raikes, both times you paddled me it wasn’t my fault. Especially the time a guy was cheating off me.” He said, “Yes Mike, I knew he was, because he answered on the multiple choice question. ‘I don’t know either.’” Needless to say, Mr. Raike’s mind is still quick-witted and sharp.