MOULTRIE -- Leon Manley claims he was "probably not great at anything" and his favorite sport was the one played in "whichever season it was."
But despite his modesty, Manley excelled at football and basketball at Moultrie High, played county league baseball and played a season of basketball at Norman College.
He also served for a number of years as an assistant to Moultrie YMCA General Secretary J.H. Kenney and coached the backfield for Dr. R.C. Gresham's youth football team.
It was his diverse resume as well as his excellence as an athlete that led to Manley's selection to Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame.
Manley will join his younger brother Gayle Manley, a member of the Class of 2002, when he is inducted as part of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2003 at the annual banquet to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Colquitt County High cafeteria.
Tickets are $15 and are available at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Chamber of Commerce and at Modern Cleaners.
The Moultrie High had only two winning seasons in the 1940s and Manley help lead the Packers to one of them in 1946.
Manley, Jim Buck Goff and C.T. Carlton helped the Packers roll up 172 points and win six of their 10 games.
It was the next-to-least season for head coach Grant Gillis, who was assisted by Ike Aultman, who would line up and practice with the players, Manley remembers.
Manley returned for his senior season the next year and was the captain of the Packers team that again had Goff and a fine young end named Owen Thomas.
Both Thomas and Gillis will join Manley in being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
Goff also is member of the Hall of Fame and his father Lemmy Goff will be inducted this year.
Manley was a fine back and during his senior season connected on a number of scoring passes to Goff, who was named to the All-South Georgia Football Confer-ence team. Manley was selected for the second team.
But Manley was just as proficient on the Moultrie High basketball teams coached first by Gillis and then by Wilson Stephen-son.
In a story that appeared in The Moultrie Observer recounting a 53-34 Moultrie victory over Tifton, reporter John McCall noted that "Leon Manley, a flame-headed forward who jumped, twisted and shot like an uncomfortable pan of popcorn, paced the Gold Packers in their highest-scoring contest of the year."
While Manley was the top scorer for the basketball playing Packers from 1945-1948, he had help from Goff, Billy Tillman, Max DeMott, Jimmy McGlamory, George Cox, Robert Cobb, Charlie Gibbs and others.
Manley drew some interest from some college football teams -- including a letter from Mississippi State line coach DeWitt Weaver -- and Aultman said in 1948 that Manley "is a born athlete and knows how to handle himself, and any kind of ball."
Stephenson was quoted as saying Manley had "no equal in this section" as a basketball player and the All-Region selection cast his lot with Norman Junior College.
"I never felt I was good enough to go off and get a full scholarship," Manley said.
And, he added with a laugh, "There was nobody trying to run me down and give me one either."
Manley played just one season at Norman College, where he was president of the Block "N" Club. He felt he needed to be back in Moultrie at his job at the YMCA.
It was a place he had been working since he was in eighth grade.
"I needed a job and my mother went by and got it for me," Manley remembers.
Manley soon became Kenney's right-hand man, taking on more and more responsibility, often working to 10 p.m., although Kenney made sure his young assistant had time for football and basketball practices and games.
"He gave a lot of responsibility to a 15-, 16-year-old," Manley said. "He was a fine man. He was my mentor."
While working at the YMCA, he completed the American Red Cross Boat and Canoe Counselor's Training School, was certified as a National YMCA Leader Examiner in the National Aquatic Program and completed the American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Program.
He also spent a number of summers working with youngsters at the YMCA camp in Pine Mountain.
Manley also served as the backfield coach for Dr. Gresham's junior football team, working with such young standouts as Kenny Burdette, Bennie Alderman, "Spanky" McLean and others.
"Moultrie and Colquitt County has been a great sports community," Manley said, noting that he was fortunate to have been associated with three of the best the area has produced in Gillis, Kenney and Gresham.
Manley joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950 spent much of his active duty time in France.
"I was fortunate to have fought the battle of of Paris rather than the battle of Korea," he said of his time in the Air Force.
While in the service, Manley considered going into YMCA work. But when he left the Air Force, he was encouraged by his brother Gayle to attend Georgia Tech.
Although it had been a number of years since he had played, Manley decided to give football another shot.
"I walked on. Two weeks later, I walked off," said Manley, whose third child was on the way.
While at Georgia Tech, Manley joined The Lovable Co., where he became vice president of manufacturing and had domestic and international responsibilities.
In 1973, he and his wife and childhood sweetheart, the former June Aldridge of Moultrie, started Mantex Inc., an apparel company they operated 15 years.
In 1988, he was appointed president of Irwin B. Schwabe, from which he retired to Jesup in 1995.
He and June have four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild and enjoy traveling, always packing their golf clubs.
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This Week's Circulars
PELHAM, GA.- Jimmy Cletus Nichols, 69, of Pelham, passed away Wednesday, October 20, 2021, at River Brook Healthcare in Homerville, GA. Cobb Funeral Chapel has been entrusted with arrangements. Please sign the online guestbook at www.cobbfuneralchapel.com.
TEMPLE, Texas - Joshua Glenn Allman, 43, of Temple TX, formerly of Moultrie died Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 suddenly and unexpectedly at home. Cobb Funeral Chapel has been entrusted with arrangements.
Robert Steven Cooper, 61, of Moultrie, passed away, Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at Tift Regional Medical Center. Cobb Funeral Chapel has been entrusted with arrangements. Please sign the online guestbook at www.cobbfuneralchapel.com.
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