Billy Henry, former University of Tennessee athletic department administrator and assistant tennis coach, died on Saturday night near Holly Springs, Miss., after attending the Tennessee-Ole Miss football game in Oxford with Belmont head basketball coach Rick Byrd. He was 77.
“In terms of mentors, Coach Henry would be one of the most significant,” Byrd said. “I learned a great deal from him about how to coach a team, how to treat players, and how the team should represent the university, on the floor and on campus.” A native of Calhoun, Mr. Henry is a member of the Lenoir City High School Sports Hall of Fame, where he starred in football and baseball,earning eight letters in the two sports and leading the Panthers’ basketball team to the final four of the 1955 state tournament. He was named alldistrict, all-region, and all-state.
Mr. Henry also played basketball and baseball, earning seven letters, at Carson-Newman before earning his undergraduate degree in 1959. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee in 1962.
Mr. Henry served as basketball coach and athletic director at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., before serving as an assistant coach at the University of Florida with head coach Tommy Bartlett and later as head coach of Baptist College of Charleston.
In 1976, he was named athletic director at Maryville College, hiring Byrd to his first headcoaching position.
After spending four years as head tennis coach at Austin Peay, Mr. Henry moved to the University of Tennessee athletic department, retiring in 2005 following two decades as assistant tennis coach and later assistant athletic director for spring sports. He also worked with the UTAD Development Office, helping coordinate the Big Orange Caravan and the school’s car program.
Mr. Henry was serving as an assistant coach for the Belmont men’s golf program for the 2014-15 season after serving as interim head coach the previous season. He had always admitted to a “40year obsession” with the game of golf, having navigated the best courses in the United States, Scotland, and England.
“Billy was the guy who had the patience to teachme the game of golf,” recalled long-time friend John Melnick.”I was the worst, but he stayed with me. We also played a little tennis.
“Not only did he teach me golf, but he also taught me life. He was a good friend.” Mr. Henry is survived by former wife Martha Anne Henry of Morristown, former wife Jane Henry of Hendersonville; sister, Carolyn Jones and husband Eugene of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; daughters Robin Ann Henry of Houston, Cindy Henry Williams and son-in-law Douglas R. Williams of Hendersonville; Marty Lynn Henry of Morristown, and Jennifer and Bruce Irvin of Charlotte, N.C.; and sons William F. (Chip) Henry III and wife Angela Henry of Fort Worth, Texas; Chris Henry of Chicago; and Jeff Reynolds and wifeJennifer of Hendersonville. Grandchildren are Phillip and Katie Williams of Birmingham, Ala., Emily Williams of Hendersonville, Caroline and McClain Reynolds of Hendersonville, and Tucker and Wilder Irvin of Charlotte, N.C.
Mr. Henry’s memorial service will be Friday at 3 p.m. (EDT) at Hendersonville First United Methodist Church (217 East Main Street, Hendersonville, TN 37075, 615-824-8725). Alexander Funeral Home in Gallatin (584 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN 37066) is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the University of Tennessee Letterman’s T-Club, the Lenoir City Hall of Fame, or the Athletic Scholarship Fund at Carson-Newman University.
Published By: Knoxville News Sentinel
Courtesy of: Tom Mattingly