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WATER VALLEY – Longtime educator Jerry Holt was the recipient of the Braswell Hatcher Service Award presented by the Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. Holt served 31 years in the Water Valley School District as a coach and teacher, and later as principal and assistant superintendent.
Dr. Steve Edwards made the presentation for the Chamber.
“It is a great honor to present this award to my coach, my friend and one of our community’s most humble servants,” Edwards shared.
The award remains a well-kept secret until presented, and an emotional Holt admitted that he had been mislead by his wife and family.
“This was a big con,” he joked as the crowd learned that he was one of a handful of people in the room who did not realize he was the honored guest.
Holt shared that it was humbling to come back to his hometown in 1978 to serve as a coach.
“From the very first time in my high school career playing sports, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” Holt told the crowd. “I knew what my career path and what the Lord was calling me to do.”
Holt also shared that many of his former students had a deep impact on his life.
“We have a saying in education, to teach is to touch a life. But that saying goes both ways. My life has been touched so deeply by so many students and athletes that I have had the honor to be a part of their lives,”Holt told the crowd. “Water Valley is a special place, and we all know that. I am so proud of the Chamber, the supervisors, elected officials and city officials that do everything they can do to promote our hometown,” Holt added.
Edwards shared highlights of Holt’s life and career during the presentation, starting with his coaching career in Mendenhall where Holt coached football and baseball for four years before being offered a graduate assistant position at Delta State University, his alma mater in 1975.
In 1976 Holt became the offensive line coach at DSU and completed his Master’s Degree shortly thereafter.
In 1978 Holt was hired by Water Valley High School Athletic Director Tom Edwards as head Blue Devil football coach. In his 31 years of service his responsibilities expanded to include principal and assistant superintendent.
After retirement Holt chose not to sit back and let life go idly by. As a dedicated member of the Lions Club, he serves as “chief cook” for the bi-monthly pancake breakfast. He also has served as a dedicated member of the Yalobusha Baptist Disaster Relief Team for 11 years.
Holt is also a faithful member of First Christian Church, where he has served as elder, Sunday school teacher and interim pastor.
“And doing whatever service God has called,” Edwards added.
In 2012, Holt was inducted into the Delta State Sports Hall of Fame.
“Giving the most passionate and powerful speech of all honorees that year. And that is a fact,” Edwards continued.
Holt has been married to Lou Ann (Reed) Holt for almost 50 years and they have two children and two grandchildren.
Past recipients of the Braswell Hatcher Service Award include:
1998 – Braswell Hatcher
1999 – James B. and Geanie Tyler
2000 – Brownie Crawford
2001 – John Herod
2002 – Bruce Gurner
2003 – Raymond Avent
2004 – Dr. Joe Walker
2005 – Rodney and Dale Childress
2006 – Dr. Paul Odom
2007 – M.B. “Snooky” and Mary Lou Williams
2008 – John K. Gurner, Sr.
2009 – Binnie Turnage
2010 – Melvin and Cecil Ford
2011 – Ernie Aune
2012 – Dorris H. Crawford
2013 – Joe Elliott and Patsy Wilder
2014- Dr. Rayford Edgar
2015 – Mary Sue Stevens
2016 – Bob and Dale Tyler
2017 – Tonya Eubanks
2018 – Jimmy and Shirley Berry
2019 – Don Larson