A large crowd of family, friends, church family and lifetime members of the Lumberjack Nation
( former players and coaches ) gathered in the sanctuary of Calvary Baptist Church to remember and celebrate the life of a Lumberjack Legend, Coach Jamie Raper. It was bittersweet for his many former players who enjoyed hearing the many stories of his career while mourning his earthly passing. The service was all about his faith and life's work.
The age range of those in attendance was broad as former players from the late 1950's to his last team as head coach in 1969 to players who came along later as he worked as an assistant coach gathered to honor his memory and remind themselves of the many lessons of life he taught them. They learned to play football but they also learned how to persevere in life and accomplish success. They learned preparation and dedication.
Coach Raper lived 84 years. He received his education in Smackover and graduated from Henderson when it was called Henderson State Teachers College. He came to Warren as an assistant coach under Mickey O'Quinn and was named head coach in 1964 serving until the football season of 1969. He served in the United States Army and retired as a Colonel with the Arkansas National Guard.
The eulogy was spoken by Robert Dew, a native of Warren, a former Lumberjack quarterback, who played and starred under the coaching of Coach Raper and a former Razorback defensive back, now a businessman from Boston.
Robert talked about the two reasons Coach Raper was so successful as a coach and as a developer of young men. He discussed the Coach's skills due to his life's preparation and his positive characteristics that resulted in his ability to do the job and do it well. He gave several examples of his coaching ability. Mr. Dew stated that he personally spent a lot of money securing an education but the things he learned from Coach Raper on the practice field and on game nights taught him more about how to be successful than anything he ever participated in. He talked about and demonstrated several of the coach's mannerisms and drew loving chuckles from former players and coaches.
The Rev. Reuel Cruse, Coach Raper's Pastor at Calvary, brought an uplifting message about his faith and the relationship they shared. He spoke elegantly about the coach's spiritual profession.
The point of this editorial, in addition to honoring Coach Raper, is to point out the importance of being a Lumberjack and the life changing impact the program has had and continues to have on the people who have been and are privileged to be a Lumberjack as a student, part of the music program and taking part as an athlete. It is important!
While I'm not sure who the author was, Coach Raper always quoted the statement, "once a Lumberjack, always a Lumberjack." Jamie Raper epitomized the quote. He will be missed but he will always be remembered as a Lumberjack.