Robert George Light, Sr., M.A.
 

Light_Robert_1990.jpg

Citation

Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Robert George Light, Sr., M.A.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 23, 2024, https://omeka.library.appstate.edu/items/show/48051.


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Title

Robert George Light, Sr., M.A.

Subject

Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty

Creator

Dr. Richard D. Howe

Date

2009

Format

Biographical sketches

Coverage

Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

https://www.geonames.org/4456703/boone.html

Temporal Coverage

2000-2010

Occupation

Associate Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Associate Professor Emeritus of Health Education, Physical Education and Leisure Studies Robert George (Bob) Light, Sr. (April 27, 1927-) university professor and basketball and tennis coach, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Joy and Walter Marion Light, Sr. He has one brother and one sister, Walter Marion Light, Jr., and Marilyn Light Reed. Light graduated in 1944 from Blewett High School in St. Louis, where he was his team's leading scorer in basketball for two years and made the all-city team. Light also won the city high school championship in tennis during his senior year and captained both his basketball and tennis teams. He won the St. Louis junior tennis championships in 1944 and the St. Louis men's doubles championship with his school's coach, Ward Parker. Light attended Harris Teachers' College in St. Louis during 1944-45, participating in basketball, tennis, and baseball. He led the basketball team in scoring, was number one on the tennis team, and was leading hitter on the baseball team. In May 1945, Light entered the United States Navy and was honorably discharged in August 1946. In the fall of 1946, Light entered Washington University of St. Louis, where he participated in basketball and tennis all four years and was captain of both teams his senior year. He is the school's number two all-time leading scorer. The basketball team of 1949-50 had the best record in the school's history, and the tennis teams of 1947 and 1948 went undefeated. The 1949 and 1950 teams had only one loss each, while winning thirty-seven straight matches in the individual years; Light's own record was 50-1. Light earned his B.S. degree in physical education and social studies from Washington University of St. Louis in 1950 and earned his M.S. degree from the university in 1957. Light began his career as a teacher and coach at Pacific High School, Pacific, Missouri, during the 1950-51 academic year. He was head coach of the softball, basketball, track and field, and baseball teams; each had winning records that year. Light's basketball team won seventeen games, and his track and field team captured the county tournament. After a two-year stint as a salesman in the St. Louis area, Light went back to Washington University of St. Louis in 1953 as assistant basketball coach, assistant tennis coach, freshman basketball coach, and physical education teacher. He coached the freshman basketball team to a 56-16 record during his four years there. Light's basketball playing and coaching at the university were under Blair Gullion, nationally known coach who was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame at that time. Light joined the faculty and coaching staff at Appalachian State University in the summer of 1957 as an assistant professor and head basketball coach. During his fifteen years (1957-72), as basketball coach, his teams won 221 games (the most wins by an Appalachian State basketball coach). Under coaches Jim Jones and Bob Light, the Appalachian State University tennis program had twenty-eight consecutive winning seasons. Twelve Appalachian players made the All-Southern Conference team. Light was a leader in statewide tennis tournaments and activities throughout his career at Appalachian State. He spoke at many basketball and tennis clinics and camps. He co-founded the Mountaineer Open tennis tournament in 1963 and was the director or co-director of the event until 1983. This tournament was a solid success in Southern tennis circles for more than twenty years, with many tennis greats such as Allen Morris, Norman Chambers, Keith Richardson, and John Lucas played in it. Light also formed the Boone junior team in 1963, and, under his coaching, the team won the league championship in 1969. As these young men entered Watauga High School, their school team won the conference on a consistent basis. One of the youngsters, Mike Owen, won a North Carolina Junior Championship, and another, Coach Light's son, Bobby, gained a junior varsity ranking at number two in the state. Fifteen of the young players on the junior team gained state rankings in tennis competitions, and twelve went on to participate on college tennis teams. In addition to founding and coaching the junior team for ten years, Light established the North Carolina Tennis League, consisting of Boone, Hickory, Elkin, Statesville, and Shelby. The Charlotte, Asheville, and Morganton Old Providence clubs joined later. In 1970, Light received an award from the North Carolina Tennis Association for outstanding contributions to tennis. From 1966 to 1972, Light served on the board of the North Carolina Tennis Association (NCTA); during 1967-68, he served as vice president of NCTA, and, from 1969 to 1970, he served as president of the association. In 1973, he co-founded the North Carolina Association of Tennis Professionals (NCATP), and from 1974 to 1976, he was the ranking chair of the Junior 14 and under. In 1975, he was the president of NCATP. Light also served for many years as the secretary of the Southern Conference tennis coaches. He was a member of the conference's tennis committee and of the NCAA committee to select teams and individuals for the NCAA tournament. Light also continued his own tennis playing during this time. In 1965 and 1967, he won the Western North Carolina League singles championship and also was a four-time winner of the doubles championship in the league. In 1967, he joined with Norman Chambers to win the North Carolina state doubles championship, and, in 1972, he and Buck Archer won the North Carolina senior doubles championship. In 1997, Light and Archer again won the North Carolina state senior doubles championship for seventy-and-over players. Light was inducted into Appalachian's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991, was elected to the Washington University of St. Louis Hall of Fame in 1997, and was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1998 and 1999, Light served as president of the North Carolina Association of Tennis Professionals. From 1972 to 1975, Light served as the tennis director of the Adam's Apple Racquet Club during the summers and also acted as tennis director of the Hound Ears Club in the summers from 1975 to 2003. Light has shown his creative and scholarly ability by co-authoring Textbook Tennis. He also wrote and acted in an eight-part videotape for educational television entitled Bob Light on Tennis, a companion to the textbook. Light married the former Patricia Parker (June 3, 1933-) of Jerseyville, Illinois, on June 15, 1957. Patricia Parker Light is the daughter of Clorene Bright Thomas and William Lee Parker. Mrs. Light graduated from the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis in 1956 as a registered nurse and she retired from the Mary S. Shook Medical Center of Appalachian State University after eighteen years of service. The Lights have four sons. Robert (Bobby) George, Jr. (May 4, 1958-), graduated from Appalachian State in 1981 and is a tennis professional in Atlanta, Georgia. Bobby has won several state championships in doubles in South Carolina and Georgia. He made All-Southern Conference at Appalachian in tennis in 1979 and 1980. Thomas (Tommy) Claison (May 27, I960-) also attended Appalachian State. He has his own cosmetology business in Boone. The Lights' twin sons are Walter (Wally) and William (Willy) (November 1, 1961-). Wally and his wife, Shirley, reside in Boone, where Wally is a paint contractor. Shirley has two children, Jake and Jade Marphonios, from a previous marriage. Wally and Shirley have a son, Logan (October 26, 1991-), who is a joy to Bob and Pat. Willy works for American Airlines in Atlanta, Georgia. The Lights are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Boone, where Light has served as a deacon. He is also a former member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Coach Light retired in the spring of 1988 and was granted emeritus status in March 1989. The 1994 edition (4th) of The Appalachian Faculty Emeriti was dedicated to him. Sources: Appalachian State University files and long association. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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