Oldest FB Coach in Texas/Oldest A&M letterman dies @ 101
The Oldest Coach in Texas Passes Away at Age 101
C. W. Starr
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TheOldCoach.com has learned that Weldon "Pappy" Drennan, the man known as the oldest coach in Texas and Texas A&M's oldest football letterman, has passed away at the age of 101.
W.B. "Pappy" Drennan was a native of Cleburne and a 1938 graduate of Texas A&M.
After graduation Pappy began a coaching career that took him to Hallettsville, Yoakum, Uvalde, Laredo Junior College and Jacksonville before he came to Beaumont to become the first head football coach at Forest Park High School.
Drennan was highlighted in the inaugural issue of The Old Coach Friday Night Football Magazine (2010). The original article follows.
They wore leather helmets?.
The oldest living football coach in Texas
The same year The Boys Scouts of America were founded; George V took over as the King of The United Kingdom, Theodore Roosevelt became the first President to fly in a plane, and W. B. "Pappy" Drennan was born.
The Cleburne native recently spoke about his coaching career, longevity and a few other topics. Drennan has outlived his peers, wife, son, and has no doubts that he has lived a full life.
Drennan grew up in Cleburne and was a highly recruited 140-pound guard out of high school. "Knute Rockne tried to get me to go to Notre Dame. He came to Cleburne but my mother and father wouldn't let me leave the state," recalled Drennan. "There were a lot of good schools in Texas but I chose A&M because it was close and I liked it."
Drennan is revered as the oldest living Texas A&M letterman and played for A&M in the mid-1930s graduating in 1938. It was at A&M where he acquired his nickname, Pappy.
"I was older than most my teammates. I stayed at home to work after high school so my brother could go to college. At A&M, I sat at the head of the meal table and my teammates would holler, "Pass the biscuits, Pappy", you know that's what the Governor said back then," Drennan recalled in reference to Governor W. Lee (Pappy) O'Daniel.
Drennan started coaching in 1938 when players were still wearing leather helmets.
He took his first coaching job at the age of 24 in Hallettsville thanks to a recommendation from A&M's Edwin J. Kyle, the namesake of the Aggies' football stadium.
Drennan coached at Yoakum, Uvalde, Laredo Junior College and Jacksonville before moving to Beaumont to become the first head coach at Forest Park. Drennan won 95 games in a 19-year coaching career before retiring in 1971.
Close friend and former assistant Charles Starcke recalled starting his career with Pappy, "He was the first head coach I worked for and became one of my best friends. I went to work on his staff in 1961 and stayed with him until he retired."
"Pappy has been home bound the past couple of years but before that he was still very active, driving his truck and working with his roses," said Stracke.
Drennan used to spend hours in the back yard of the house he's been living in for 57 years growing roses. "I've always loved roses and flowers," Drennan said. "Roses aren't easy it's just a lot of work."
On April 29 more than 150 former players, friends, and community members showed up to honor and celebrate Drennan's birthday when he turned 100. "These were former students and people that he had an impact on," says Stracke. "His son, Weldon Jr., passed away in 2007 and he doesn't have any real close relatives remaining."
Even at 100, Drennan enjoys his visitors and his stories.
"I've never cursed, never smoked and never drank," Drennan said. "I've always tried to be a Christian with people. I coached a long time, and I tried to be truthful, honest and sincere."
"You know that Mike Sherman (A&M head coach) and Coach (Tim) Cassidy were here after my birthday and brought me a helmet from A&M," said Drennan. "I used to go to all the games and I would always take the secretary roses from my garden."
"I knew Bum (Phillips) and Coach (R.C.) Slocum and all of those guys," Drennan continued, "I coached a long time before Bum ever came around but I would see him through the years and we would always talk. I first saw Slocum when he played in high school. We became good friends."