WALTER “BUD” LEE, GUARD, 1939-41, MORGAN COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME, 2005
Bud was a small football player but he was a big man in life. He played on the same line with the famous (and outstanding) Don Whitmire. Ask anyone who knew Bud and they will tell you he was not one step behind Don, offense or defense.
Long-time Decatur Red Raider fans know the story of Bud’s high school life. The story is so special it needs to be told over and over because it identifies two important characteristics of two men, Coach Ogle and Bud Lee. It shows the compassion that Coach had for his players and it shows the life values of a young football player.
Bud’s father died of a heart attack in 1939. The family consisted of his mother and five sisters. Bud assumed the role of breadwinner. He worked at the Coca-Cola plant each day from noon until 5 p.m. Coach was aware of the family’s financial problems. Adjustments would have to be made so Bud could remain in school. For the first time, Coach permitted a player to remain on the team while practicing only one afternoon each week: the Thursday afternoon practice when Coach went over the game plan for Friday night’s game. Each Friday afternoon, after Bud finished his work at the Coca-Cola plant, he played outstanding Friday night games. In the Morgan County Archives building, the Decatur Daily records depict his contribution to each victory. Decatur had a record of 9 wins and one loss his senior year in 1940.
Everyone loved Bud; he made it easy. He was a star, on and off the field. Shorty’s Boys selected Bud to the All-Benson Field football team. Mrs. Ogle always called Bud one of “her boys.”
Bud died on May 30, 2005, the same year he was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame. Dean, his widow, shares her happy memories: “Bud was a hard working Christian; he was a deacon in the church and taught Bible classes for many years. He was tough, but he was kind and fair; he was compassionate and helped those in need, and he had a wonderful sense of humor. Bud had a tough life after the stroke and later five by-pass surgeries, but he never gave up, nor did he complain. We went on seven wonderful cruises. I miss him, and I love him. Bud loved Coach and all of Shorty’s Boys; he would have enjoyed being a part of the fellowship, and he would share some interesting stories about Clyde Smith and Hal Self.”