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Blasingame was coach, educator, devoted Bulldog

Bruce Blasingame, a well-known educator, former football coach and radio personality in Thomson, died Tuesday, April 13, at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. He was 81.

Memorial services for Mr. Blasingame, who was retired from the McDuffie County Board of Education following a most distinguished career as a teacher, coach and administrator, were held Friday, April 16, at First United Methodist Church in Thomson. The Rev. John Barnes and the Rev. Charles Broome officiated.

A native of Oconee County, Ga., Mr. Blasingame had lived in Thomson since 1953. After service to his country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Mr. Blasingame became most interested in becoming a teacher. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Piedmont College and later a masters degree in education from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

His years as an educator in McDuffie County were spent as a teacher, coach and former principal at Laura Jones Junior High School, Pine Street Elementary School and Thomson High School.

Mr. Blasingame, who had lived and worked in Rabun County before moving to Thomson, was the 13th football head coach at Thomson High School. During his two-year stint there from 1957 through 1958, his overall record was 9-10-1.

He also served as Thomson's varsity boys' basketball head coach and baseball head coach.

Although he loved coaching football, he decided to become an administrator.

"Coaching football at Thomson High School was a job I loved, but it didn't pay much," Mr. Blasingame told The McDuffie Mirror in 2007.

Mr. Blasingame, who was referred to by many as "Mr. Bruce" in the community, rarely missed a football game and didn't hesitate to tell others about his love of the Bulldogs.

Mr. Blasingame also served as radio host of The Coaches Show, which still airs before every football game on WTHO-FM.

"It's (football program at THS) really grown on me over the years," Mr. Blasingame said during the 2007 interview. "It's a great high school program."

He recalled one of his fondest memories as the time when the Bulldogs won the school's first-ever football state championship by defeating Westminister 20-0 in 1967. They repeated as state champions in 1968.

"It was a real special time in the history of the Thomson High School Bulldogs -- that's for sure," Mr. Blasingame said.

Through the years, Mr. Blasingame delivered all the gridiron action by serving as the Voice of the Thomson Bulldogs when the radio station was just an AM station -- WTWA.

Earlier this year, Mr. Blasingame was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow recipient by members of the Thomson Rotary Club.

"I was a little dumbfounded," Mr. Blasingame said. "I never dreamt that I would ever be honored this way. This is real special to me. And I shall always be grateful to the members of the Thomson Rotary Club for thinking of me."

George Lokey, an executive at First Bank in Thomson told the newspaper at the time that he nominated Mr. Blasingame for the honor because he touched the lives of thousands of students.

Mr. Lokey, one of the pallbearers, described Mr. Blasingame as a humble man.

Mr. Blasingame is survived by his wife of 57 years, Lora Lancaster Blasingame; a son, Ben Blasingame and his wife, Janie Kate, of Thomson; grandchildren, Mary Beth Blasingame, Sarah Kate Blasingame, Clay Blasingame, Marcus Ferguson and Mollie Ferguson. Mr. Blasingame was preceded in death by his daughter, Lee Anne Blasingame Ferguson.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or to First United Methodist Church Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 8, Thomson, GA 30824.

Beggs Funeral Home in Thomson was in charge of all arrangements.

Web posted on Thursday, April 22, 2010

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