|Grambling remembers Eddie Robinson and prepares for the funeral|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 12 April 2007 16:38|
``Everybody's got to look pretty for tomorrow,'' Larry Pannell, director of the Grambling Band said as he took his place in James E. Moore's chair. ``History is being made again right here in Grambling.''
Pannell and the others getting ready for Eddie Robinson's wake Tuesday night and funeral Wednesday morning were also swapping stories about Grambling State's famous coach of 57 years.
``I was Coach's barber for 37 years,'' said the 67-year-old Moore. ``Then he came in one day and said he wouldn't need me any more. He was bald by then, and he took off his hat and said, `My hair is now being taken care of by Mother Nature and Father Time.'''
Robinson, all agreed, was a man who loved a joke, and always had time to listen to one or tell one.
``It used to take him forever to get around town,'' Moore said. ``He had to shake every hand and talk to everybody.''
Across the street from the barber shop at the new post office, the largest building in Grambling, the American flag flew at half-staff for Robinson, who put this town of 4,800 on the map.
``We have people drive into town all the time just because they know about Coach Robinson,'' said Darrell Street, the marketing director for the city. ``They see the sign on the interstate and just stop by.''
Grambling State was The Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute when Robinson gave up his 25-cent-an-hour job in a feed mill to pursue his dream of coaching football. By the time he retired 57 years later in 1997, he was the winningest coach in college football with 408 victories and over 200 players sent to the NFL.
Now Grambling State has 5,000 students and expects to grow by a couple of thousand more soon, said president Horace Judson. A half dozen new buildings for student housing are going up near the football field - Robinson Stadium - the only thing on campus named for the coach.
``I think Grambling itself is a monument to Eddie Robinson,'' Judson said. ``I doubt any of this would have happened if not for him.''
Robinson's funeral was to be held in the new Assembly Center. It seats 7,500 and an additional 500 folding chairs were set up on the floor.
``If this isn't enough we have overflow seating at the nursing auditorium,'' said Debra Jackson, who was helping to coordinate the event.
The school choir and the band will provide the music. Pannell was already getting pressure to slow down the school's fight song for the funeral.
``I just tell them, `No, sir, I'm playing it just the way Coach liked it,'' Pannell said. ``If I slowed it down, Coach would jump out of that casket and come after me. He loved that fight song.''