Eddie Fowlkes legacy lives on through Decatur High Sports History project
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In April 2016, Eddie Fowlkes passed away.
“We knew something was wrong with Eddie, so when we went to get the results of the MRI over at DeKalb, the doctor came in and told us that he had a glioblastoma brain tumor,” Fowlkes’ wife Anne said. “He had one to eight years to live, and the first thing Eddie said was, ‘But I’ve got so much more to do, and I thought, I know what he was thinking about. He was thinking about that dang sports history project.”
The Decatur Sports History Project is Eddie Fowlkes’ parting gift to the community he loved.
Eddie spent his entire life in Decatur – he graduated from Decatur High School and went on to teach and coach there in the late 70s.
“He loved Decatur High School,” Anne said.
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After coaching cross country and baseball at Decatur, Eddie realized that when a coach left the school, the history of their program often left with them. One day in the early 90s, he found a big, discarded box of trophies from the high school. He went through it and started to fix the trophies.
“He was a graphic arts teacher, and if one had a broken foot, he’d make a new little foot. If one was missing a little basketball, he’d make a new little basketball,” Anne said.
That’s where the Decatur High School Sports History Project began.
As Anne put it, “It took a lot of time, a lot of work, and some money.”
Starting with trophies, Eddie would research who had won the trophy, when they’d won it, and what they’d won it for.
He began to go to each year’s class reunion at Decatur High. He would meet the groups, take them on tours of the gym, and introduce them to the Decatur Sports History Project, checking in with alumni to see if they had any sports memorabilia or money to donate.
After he retired in the early 2000s, he worked full-time on the project, and it started to grow.
Eddie worked on various jobs for the project, whether that was salvaging and reinstalling pieces from Decatur’s old, central gym into the new gym, designing a mural of former players across the years for the wall in the hospitality room, or visiting schools and universities that had well-established sports history displays to get inspiration for what he wanted to do at Decatur.
Today, the Decatur Sports History Project along with Eddie’s legacy in Decatur still lives on. After Eddie passed away in 2016, some of Decatur’s own stepped up to carry his legacy.
Freddy Bailey and Neale Elliott, two Decatur High alums, have continued the tireless work that Eddie put into Decatur’s sport history. They’ve taken on tasks such as researching history, building or buying display cases, creating signs, collecting several more memorabilia items, and filling the gym and performing arts center with new displays.
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“Ed was devoted to Decatur High and its history,” Elliott said. “He had a vision to bring its sports history to life. Fred, Anne, and I are just trying to help him fulfill his dream.”
Anne added that many other community members have helped with “the realization of Eddie’s dream,” including former athletic director, Carter Wilson and current athletic director, Rodney Thomas.
Those interested in donating Decatur High School sports memorabilia are invited to do so. Contact Rodney Thomas at 404-370-4170.
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