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 Robert Franklin “Bob” Courtway

Robert Franklin “Bob” Courtway

Charleston, Mississippi County, Missouri, USA
Death 11 Sep 1997 (aged 69-70)
Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas, USA
Burial Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas, USA
Plot Sect 5A / Plot 7
Memorial ID 67714273 · View Source
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Published Friday, September 12, 1997

Friday, September 12, 1997 CourtwayCoach Bob Courtway, 70, dies

Last modified at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, September 12, 1997

By the Log Cabin Staff

Dr. Robert F. Courtway, 70, of Conway, a longtime educator, coach and administrator in Conway, died Thursday (Sept. 11, 1997).

The news of the death of one of Conway's sports immortals was met with expressions of regret and regard for the man who left a legacy of achievement that garnered honors for the school he loved and for the many children who prospered from his teaching.

Cliff Garrison, longtime coach at Hendrix College, said Courtway had a "tremendous influence on my life."'

Courtway was athletic director at Hendrix when Garrison arrived in 1972. "I always appreciated his interest in kids. He was not only a great coach but a fine citizen, a force in the community, a man who worked for the improvement of schools in the community and for the quality of life in the community.

"He certainly was one of the finest persons I've ever known. He was giving, too. I don't know how many people he touched, both as a coach and an athletic director, as president of the school board and an influential member of the chamber of commerce. I can't hardly say what he's meant to me."

A year ago, Courtway was inducted as a charter member of the Hendrix College Hall of Fame. He became the first person from swimming to enter the Hall. He was one of the pioneers of Arkansas swimming, officiating at many national meets and serving as the NAIA's representative on the U.S. Men's Olympic Committee.

He earned four letters each in basketball, baseball and tennis at Hendrix in the 1920s. He led the Lewis & Norwood Flyers, including the legendary Hazel Walker, to three national AAU titles and compiled an AAU record of 148-8.

From an old friend, Bill Nutter of Conway, came words of appreciation for the way Courtway influenced young people. "Bob believed in Hendrix and the youth of this community," he said. "He was an energetic supporter, teacher, coach and administrator.

"He had a strong ethical character and you always knew where he stood. Conway and Hendrix College have lost a true friend."

Nutter, who attended Hendrix College, called Courtway a great organizer, who directed track meets with such skills that he was often called on to help other educational institutions.

It was said Courtway was a coach from "the old school," the kind of coach who cracked the whip, but who cared about his players as if they were his own family members.

He was said to be an anomaly in the field of athletics. Numbers, statistics, wins and losses have come to dominate the arena of competitive sports. Yet, Courtway dismissed the scorecard mentality.

"No way I can tell you how many meets I've won or lost," he said not too long ago. "I can't tell you what my won-loss record was. At one point I was very meticulous about keeping records. Then one day I just quit. You can become overwhelmed with records. I've come to the conclusion that if you are not going to use records, don't keep them.

"Now, I know you need to win. Everybody wants to win. I want to win. But the records were not what was important to me. It was the relationships I had with athletes that counted. I'd still be doing it today if I had my way about it. I miss the kids. No, I mean athletes. Kids are baby goats."

His friends say Courtway was honest to the core. He understood the real, true meaning of sports and the competitive nature of life. He said once:

"Let me tell you what I really believe. In coaching, we get where we are not by what we do, but by what others do for us. We're blessed with good athletes, and they make us look good."

Before his retirement in 1992, Courtway had served as athletic director, coach of the cross country, track, tennis and water polo teams at various times in addition to his swimming duties. He laid the groundwork for the first varsity women's basketball team at Hendrix. He also served as chairman of the educational and physical education departments.

His involvement in community affairs earned him a community service award from the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, and the swimming pool at Hendrix College is named in his honor.

On April 15, Courtway was honored when the Conway School District's Board of Education voted to name the district's new middle school after him. Courtway was notified of the honor by phone after the meeting.

"I was stunned," he said the next day. "When you receive news like that, you just say, 'Why me?'"

"I'm just honored. I'm so appreciative. There are so many more deserving, but there won't be anyone more appreciative."

Courtway founded and coached the Hendrix Aquakids swim club for community children in 1961. In 1962 he started the Conway High School Swim Team, which he coached until his retirement in 1992. During that time he volunteered to coach and travel with the team without payment. He also organized and taught the third-grade swimming program in Conway schools.

Courtway was the first swimming-related person inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame.

The essence of Courtway's personality and his feeling for people is wrapped up in a comment he made during an awards banquet: "For 42 years of my teaching, I've been in great company."

Born July 23, 1927, in Charleston, Mo., son of the late Claud and Marie Courtway, he worked at Holly Grove (Monroe County) and Wilson (Mississippi County) before serving at Hendrix College. He was a member, Sunday school teacher and former deacon at First Baptist Church in Conway.

He was also preceded in death by a brother, Colyer Courtway.

Survivors are his wife of 48 years, Betty Sugg Courtway; five children, Tom, Bobby, John, Jeff and Susie; and 13 grandchildren.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Conway's First Baptist Church. Arrangements are by Roller-McNutt Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to Hendrix College or First Baptist Church.

Family Members

Gravesite Details Shares a stone with Betty Courtway.





  • Created by: ghost girl
  • Added: 31 Mar 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 67714273
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Franklin “Bob” Courtway (1927–11 Sep 1997), Find A Grave Memorial no. 67714273, citing Oak Grove Cemetery, Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by ghost girl (contributor 46963474) .