Colleagues remember former Bogalusa teacher, coach and administrator

Published 9:19 am Friday, March 15, 2013

Bogalusa resident and longtime coach Melton Harry, who passed away Saturday, was remembered fondly by colleagues this week.

Harry, 71, spent 32 years (1968-2000) at Bogalusa High School, where he taught American Civics and physical education. Harry was also an athletic director, head track coach, assistant football coach and an assistant principal.

“He was a problem solver,” said BHS basketball coach and athletic director Ken Martin, who has been basketball coach since 1994. “He mentored kids. He could be the calming element in any volatile situation because he knew how to talk to kids. He didn’t scream and holler at anytime I remember.”

Harry graduated from Central Memorial High School in 1961 and was a running back on the school’s football team. Four years later, he graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge with a physical education and social studies degree.

In 1975, Harry received his master’s degree in administration and supervision with a history minor from Southeastern Louisiana University. He got his masters’ plus 30 from SLU in 1986.

Gary Magee was in administration at Bogalusa High from 1975-1994, serving as the school’s principal from 1990-1994.

Magee coached Harry as Central’s backfield coach in Harry’s senior season.

“He was a tremendous athlete. He was good size for a high school boy. At that time, he was a captain. He was our leader and very dependable,” Magee said.

The two also worked together at BHS. Magee was the head track coach from 1971-1975, and the school won the state title in 1975. Magee also coached baseball in 1970.

Magee said teaching and working with Harry was a joy. He said Harry’s best quality as a teacher was that he was a team person.

“He worked well with other educators,” Magee said. “You could count on him being there and doing things. He was very dependable. When I heard about that Saturday (Harry’s passing), my wife and I were out and my daughter called me to let me know. It was very disturbing. You lose sleep at night when you lose somebody who you have a history with like him.”

Martin said Harry was a calming force at the school.

And “he was an outstanding track and football coach,” Martin said.