A memorial service for former Tennessee basketball coach Ray Mears, who passed away on Monday, was held Thursday evening at West Hills Baptist Church. The services were attended by approximately 400 family, friends and University officials.
Most notable of the attendees included over 20 former Volunteer players who played under Mears and served as honorary pallbearers. Also included with that group was former Voice of the Vols, John Ward, and Mears' friend and first assistant coach Tommy Bartlett.
The services were conducted by Pastor Marvin Cameron of Kingsport, Tenn., and featured eulogies by three former players of Coach Mears, Bobby Hamilton, who was on his Wittenberg (Ohio) teams and former Tennessee greats Bill Justus (1966-69) and Bill Hann (1966-69). In addition, comments were made by Coach Mears three sons, Mike, Matt and Steve.
The list of players was a Who's Who of the Mears era beginning with his first Tennessee team in 1962-63 though his final squad in 1977. The group included A.W. Davis, Sid Elliott, Pat Robinette, and Jerry Parker from his inital sqaud. Continuning with Bill Hann, Bill Justus, Don Campbell, Don Johnson, Jim Woodall, Lloyd Richardson, Mike Edwards, Larry Robinson, John Snow, Wilbert Cherry, Rodney Woods, Doug Ashworth, Mike Smithson, and concluded with his last squad in 1977 that consisted of Steve Gill, Reggie Johnson, Mike Jackson, Johnny Darden, and David Cockrill.
Current Vol Coach Bruce Pearl attended along with the current squad members and coaching staff of the Volunteer basketball team. Head football Coach Phillip Fulmer headed a strong support group of current and past Athletic Department staff members. Other former basketball coaches and staff included Don DeVoe, Gerald Oliver and Billy Henry along with coaching era staffers Bill Wright (baseball) and Ray Bussard (swimming).
The family received friends immediately following the service.
A native of Dover, Ohio, Mears (80) led the Vols for 15 years from 1963-77. During his term, Mears tallied a remarkable record of 278-112 for an astounding .713 winning percentage. Mears averaged nearly 18.5 wins per season at Tennessee.
The final interment will be at 11 a.m. Friday, June 15, at Highland Memorial Cemetery on Sutherland Ave. Those wishing to attend the interment should meet at the cemetery at 10:45 a.m.
The family is requesting that memorials be made to the Ray and Dana Mears Athletic Scholarship Endowment, Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund, PO Box 15016, Knoxville, TN 37901.
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