Gary Pitt “Blackie” Bond (1936–2018)
Gary “Blackie” Bond, whose career spanned more than three decades at Rogers High School in Rogers (Benton County), was one of the most successful high school football coaches in Arkansas history.
Gary Pitt Bond was born on March 30, 1936, in Ozark (Franklin County) to Pitt Bond and Hester Law Bond. Bond’s father gave each of his children a nickname, and Gary was given his moniker “Blackie” because he was the only one of the three boys who had dark eyes.
He appears to have grown up in Ozark and likely played football at Ozark High School before heading to the College of the Ozarks (now University of the Ozarks) in Clarksville (Johnson County), where he enjoyed an outstanding playing career. Following graduation in 1959, Bond arrived at Rogers High School, becoming the assistant coach to head football coach Frank Tillery. He also taught social studies.
In 1963, Bond became head coach when Tillery resigned to become principal of Elmwood Junior High School. Under Bond’s leadership, in 1964, Rogers High School won its first conference championship and finished the regular season with an undefeated record. From 1969 to 1971, the school won three more district titles.
For thirty-four years, Bond served the athletic department of Rogers High School. By the time he stepped down from coaching to become full-time athletic director, his coaching record featured 190 games won, eighty-nine games lost, and five undefeated regular seasons. He was named conference coach of the year six times, All Star coach three times, and in 1978, following the team’s 11–1 season (ending with a loss in the state championship game), he was named Arkansas Coach of the Year. After the 1988 season, he became the full-time athletic director.
While football, family, and his church were, in addition to Rogers High School, the central focuses of his life, Bond was also a passionate outdoorsman who loved to fish and hunt.
Upon his retirement in 1993, Rogers High School named the school’s athletic facility in his honor, and in 1999, he was inducted into the Rogers High School Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, the Rogers Historical Museum created an exhibit devoted to his career and impact.
He and his wife Sara Bond, who taught English at Rogers Junior High School for thirty years, had a son and a daughter, John and Lynn. John Bond became an all-state quarterback for his father before going on to play and coach football in college.
Bond died on November 24, 2018, at his home in Rogers after a long battle with cancer. He is interred in Pinnacle Memorial Garden in Rogers.
For additional information:
“Coach Blackie Bond.” Rogers Historical Museum. https://www.rogershistoricalmuseum.org/blackie-bond.html (accessed October 25, 2022).
“Gary ‘Blackie’ Bond, 1999.” Rogers Mounties Hall of Fame. https://www.rogersmounties.com/halloffame (accessed October 25, 2022).
Hales, James J. “Players Remember Legendary Football Coach.” Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 9, 2018. https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2018/aug/09/players-remember-legendary-football-coa/ (accessed October 25, 2022).
William H. Pruden III
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