Character and faith are the two words which captures the legacy Warren Shackelford left to those who knew him.

The long-time educator, coach, administrator and supporter of Jay Public Schools died unexpectedly on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the age of 87.

For his son, Larry Shackelford, Warren Shackelford was simply his dad, rather than a man who declined playing for the NBA after college.

"Dad was so humble," Larry said. "He never talked a lot about [his honors]. Dad was just my dad."

Larry said he learned about his dad's accolades after attending induction ceremonies at the University of Tulsa Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Instead, Larry grew up watching his father put his faith and ideals into action as a teacher, coach and administrator at Jay Public Schools.

"He set the bar high, not only as an athlete but as a human being," Larry said. "He was a great Christian man, and would always treat people with respect and dignity."

Larry said his dad was an encourage. Someone who strived to make people around him feel better at all times.

"I've tried to be that kind of a man," Larry said. "I always wanted my dad to be proud of me. 

"I followed in his footsteps in a lot of ways, not only in my profession but in the way I live my life. He's the best man I've ever known in my life."

For the last seven years, Shackelford lived with his son and daughter-in-law. At first that meant living in Broken Arrow. In the last year he returned to Jay after Larry became the district's superintendent.

Larry said he grew even closer to his father in the last few years. His influence is one of the main reasons Larry sought out the job as the JPS superintendent.

"I just wish I had one more conversation with him," Larry said. "I have depended upon him my whole life. Dad was the first person I called if I had an issue. 

"I would want to know how he would handle it and what avenue he would take. Dad always had the right answer. He was so wise. He always left you feeling better about what direction to take."

A wise coach

Beverly Jones, Clark Richie, Jack Netherton, Zelda Houck, Virgil Stump, Danny Sherman and Gary Brewster all had Shackelford as a coach or teacher.

The relationship between student and coach/teacher expanded beyond graduation to that of a cherished friend.

Jones said Shackelford's integrity and character spoke loudly in his life. 

"I learned [from him] to lead by example," Jones said. "He taught me the qualities to be a leader myself. I learned how important your integrity and character were and if you wanted to be a leader, you needed those qualities."

Jones said Shackelford's quiet presence in Jay will be missed. 

"He was such asset to the community, one of the leaders," Jones said. "I'll miss not having him with us anymore."

Both Jones and Houck said Shackelford inspired his students to work hard, but in a dignified way. 

"He always taught students to be respectful," Houck said. "He lived a life that was just a real witness to people."

Houck said Shackelford was a man people could always count on. 

"If you needed anything, he was always there to help," she said. "He was a good encourager, someone who wanted everyone to succeed in life."

Jack Netherton first met Shackelford as a student. Eventually Netherton grew to know Shackelford as a colleague and fellow educator.

He said trust was key for Shackelford. Care for his players - including providing sandwiches at his home before games - was also key.

"He cared a lot more for us than by just being our coach," Netherton said. "He always wanted us to do our best.  

"We never wanted to displease Warren. We always tried our best to please him."

Netherton said he will miss talking with his coach and friend. 

"You always knew there was someone out there that really cared about things in your life," Netherton said. "His guidance was there, whether it be a simply quoting a Bible verse, or a long discussion. 

"He guided me from 1958 to 2019. That's a lot of years of guidance. It's a good thing to miss."

Brewster joined Shackelford's athletic program in 1957, as a freshman on the basketball team. 

Later after college, he found himself coaching the Wyandotte basketball team against the Jay Bulldogs led by his former coach.

He admits going up against Shackelford was "kind of strange," but he enjoyed coaching against him.

"Mr. Shackelford was in my opinion a wise guy," Brewster said. "He was wise in the respect on how he always got along and dealt with individual problems.

"You would seek him out to get advice."

Brewster later worked with Shackelford, when the pair were both administrators at Jay High School. 

"We worked a lot of years together," Brewster said. "He was always able to encourage you to do the right thing.

"He not only did the talk, but he walked out what he did. "

Virgil Stump played baseball for Shackelford. 

"He was one of the best teachers and coaches I ever had," Stump said. "He was extremely easy to talk with if you had a question or discussion - and not just about school work. 

"He was always more than willing to talk with you, regardless of what  he was doing. He would make time to talk."

Stump said he never remembered Shackelford lose his cool, on the sidelines of games or in his classroom.

"He never got mad or threw a fit or raised his voice," Stump said. "He didn't have to do that to get his point across.

"I'm sure he got frustrated, but he never let you know he was."

Danny Sherman played both basketball and baseball for Shackelford. 

"He was demanding, but a great coach," Sherman said. "If you were hustling, you could do a lot and get away with it, as long as you were trying. But if you weren't, you would get it."

Sherman said he learned a lot from Shackelford, including "everything it takes to make it in life."

"He taught us to work hard and work together," Sherman said. "I learned from his character and from the kind of person he was.

"He was a strong Christian man. He lived a life in such a manner others could see Christ. A lot of people talk a good game, but he walked the walk."

Sherman said Shackelford was a "positive presence" in his life. 

"I'll miss hearing his voice, because he always had good, positive things to say," Sherman said. "I can't think of anyone other than my dad, I've had as much respect."

In 1956, Shackelford and his wife moved in behind Clark Richie's house. Richie was in the eighth grade.

"I was his shadow, according to my mom," Richie said with a laugh.

The pair not only played sports together, but Shackelford would often load Ritchie up to go fox hunting.

"He was a wonderful mentor," Richie said. "We would work hard and hustle playing basketball for him. There was no halfway about it. As a coach he would get on you in a heartbeat if you didn't hustle. 

"If you played hard, he was always ok with it."

Richie said he will most remember Shackelford's competitive streak. 

"We would often go by his house to ask him to open up the gym," Richie said. "If he wasn't fox hunting or wolf hunting as he called it, he would.

"He would beat us to death. It's almost like he had radar for where the ball was."

Other times Richie remembers playing marbles with Shackelford.

"In whatever he did he did it 100 percent," Richie said. "One time we were playing and Pat called him in for supper.

"She said 'Warren, give those marbles back to those boys.' She made him give us our marbles back before supper."

Richie said he will miss Shackelford's presence in his life.

When Richie returned from working overseas, he introduced his daughters, Melissa and Jennifer, to Shackelford.

Shackelford in turn helped the girls perfect their basketball skills.

"There were five or six All State girls raised around Beaty Creek and Mt. Hermon," Richie said. "He liked to say he had a hand in raising all of them."

Outside of the classroom

Robert Lawson first met Shackelford at the age of 19, when the coach would come into the feed store to buy dog food.

Lawson said the pair could always talk about dogs, because Shackelford always had a bunch of dogs for his fox hunting trips.

Lawson said he will always remember the letters Shackelford would pen, on yellow legal pad paper. 

"To this day he wrote letters," Lawson said. "He was a master encourager. He would say things that pumped you up. Lots of people got those letters. He liked to write them and keep up with people."

When Lawson returned to Jay, he joined Shackelford as an elder at Southside Church of Christ. 

"[We] spent a lot of years in elder's meetings, talking and dealing with difficult situations," Lawson said. "Warren often times, could make the situations much more manageable.

"He was one of the wisest men I've had dealings with."

More about Shackelford

Shackelford, who was born in Colcord in August 1931, spent time away from Delaware County during his collegiate years at the University of Tulsa, where he played on the school's basketball team.

At the end of his senior year, Shackelford was chosen as the 43rd overall pick in the 1953 NBA draft for the Syracuse Nationals, a forerunner of today's Philadelphia 76'ers.

Instead, his son said, he chose to marry his wife, Patricia Ann Triplett on March 27, 1954 and stay near his home.

From 1954 to 1956 after being drafted, Shackelford served in the U.S. Army as a member of the All Army Basketball Team stationed at Ft. Chaffey, Arkansas. 

He returned home to Delaware County to become a high school coach, teacher and administrator for Jay Public Schools for 32 years.

His honors included induction into both the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame and the University of Tulsa Athletic Hall of Fame. 

Preceded in death by his parents, Elmer D. and Maud (Anglin) Shackelford, survivors include his son, Larry and wife Jill; a brother Jay Shackelford; and three grandsons and their spouses: Joshua Dale and Lyndie, Joel Lee and Marissa and Jonathan Ray and Desera. He is also survived by nine grandsons and one granddaughter.