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Orren Prunty, 65, "was a heck of a coach. The kids really responded to him," friend Bill Hodges said.
Friday, August 9, 2013
It had been a difficult summer for Orren Prunty, in and out of the hospital four different times with a long-standing balky heart. That didn’t interfere with his preparation for his upcoming season as William Fleming’s golf coach, though.
“He was still coaching from his bedside,” said Jaye Prunty, his wife of 32 years.
From time to time, assistant golf coach Jordan Pinkard would call the Prunty house when an issue arose with the team.
“Finally I told him, don’t call Orren, call me,” Jaye Prunty said with a laugh. “I’ll get an answer for you.”
Orren Prunty had every intention of being at Blue Hills when the Colonels opened the season Thursday. He never made it to the first tee. His heart gave out that morning and he died at age 65. By the time the Colonels took the course, word had not yet arrived at Fleming that the coach was gone, athletic director T.J. Shepardson said.
When it came to coaching, Prunty always answered the call. This last year alone, he held the unusual and perhaps unprecedented Timesland distinction of coaching at three different schools in the same calendar year. During the fall, it was golf at Fleming. In winter, he joined his buddy Bill Hodges coaching basketball at North Cross. Prunty coached the JV boys. During the spring, he moved back across town to coach golf at Roanoke Catholic.
“He and I taught together at Fleming,” said Hodges, who retired as North Cross basketball coach this year and calls Prunty one of his best friends. “When I got the job at Roanoke Catholic, I called Orren and asked him if he’d be interested in helping me coach. He was all over that. He was my assistant coach there then came over to North Cross with us to coach the JV.
“He was a heck of a coach. The kids really responded to him.”
It has been a sad week for Fleming, which only days before had lost another coaching icon to death with Rudy Dillard, who was recognized in a ceremony at the school Thursday evening. Plans for a similar recognition for Prunty were uncertain, Shepardson said.
“Both of them were just wonderful guys,” said their former colleague George Miller. “Orren Prunty was such a polite, well-spoken man. The kids loved him. He never yelled but he was tough in his own way. We are sure going to miss him, and Rudy, too.”
Prunty is survived by his wife and three children, 30-year-old Orren Michael Prunty and twins Carlton and Jovan Prunty, 24. Funeral arrangements were incomplete Thursday evening.
Prunty had retired after a career with Kraft Foods but returned to the work force as a special education teacher at Fleming. It is expected that Pinkard will continue to coach the golf team this fall. After the season, discussion on a permanent replacement will open, Shepardson said.
As recently as a few days ago, Prunty was playing golf, Hodges said.
“He was a heck of a golfer,” Hodges said. “I never could beat him. He shot in the low 80s, which is pretty good for anybody that age.”
Prunty’s formal athletic playing career was a distinguished one and centered on basketball. He starred at old Lee M. Waid High School in Rocky Mount before going on to play collegiately at Schreiner in Texas and later at Ball State.
Prunty was inducted into the Lee M. Waid Hall of Fame, a ceremony Hodges attended.
“They told a story that the school scoring record for a game was 54 points,” Hodges said. “By the end of the third quarter, he’d scored 50. He never got the record. Before he could, he fouled out. I really thought that was funny. I always kidded him about fouling out before he could break the school scoring record.”
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