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Memories of Fred


June 19, 2002

By Jackson's Newport Funeral Home

Mr. Freddy Sweatt, 55 of Newport, died Friday, June 14, 2002 in Jonesboro. He was born April 9. 1947 in Newport, the son of Roy Lee Sweatt, Sr. and Berlene Dean (Passmore) Sweat Price.

He was a self-employed carpenter. Mr. Sweatt attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and was a graduate of University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

He was an avid tennis player and the undefeated lightweight boxing champion of Arkansas for several years.

Mr. Sweatt was preceded in death by his father, Roy Lee Sweatt, Sr., and one brother, Jimmy "Jiggs" Sweatt.

He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Berlene Dean (Passmore) Sweatt Price and William W. Price of Newport; one brother, Roy Lee Sweatt, Jr. of Tuckerman; one sister, Donna Jean French of Newport, numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

Funeral service was 10 a.m. Monday at Jackson's Newport Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. Leon Tidwell officiating. Interment was in Walnut Grove Cemetery.

Arrangements by Jackson's Newport Funeral Home.


We lost my brother Fred from an almost 3 year bout from cancer on June 14 2002.Fred was an avid tennis player,winning many tournaments in high school and college.He was the first person from Arkansas to beat Texas A&M in tennis while in college at State College in Conway Ark.Fred was awarded 22 schlorships when he graduated for tennis,boxing and basketball.He was the bantam weight champion of Arkansas for several years and won Midsouth Golden glove in 1964.Our dad was the boxing coach in our town so he trained daily.Coach Bernis Duke was a powerful influence in Freds life when he coached Newports undefeated champions here in 1965.He also was the one that got Fred interested in tennis,which he played til his death.Coach Duke eventually moved to Tulsa and became the tennis coach at Oral Roberts University and was just indicted into the Tennis Hall of Fame last week.Fred attended church with me when he could for the last 3 years of his life.When he was put in the hospital for the last week of his life,he asked several times for prayer.PTL!!! We knew that he could hear so I left the tv on a gospel channel 24-7 for the last week.Fred went to college 2 years at Arkansas State in Jonesboro for 2 years,then transferred to State College in Conway for 4 years.He was nicknamed "Hurricane" Sweatt by the newspapers.Fred had been all over the United States and met alot of people in his 55 years.We love and miss him very much and I will be adding newspaper clipping,etc to this page when I can.

Cancer is so limited.
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit.
It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

I wrote a poem for Freds funeral and also wrote the words to the song that was sung.Here is the poem

Son,brother,uncle and friend,
Our love for you will never end.
Memories of you will always be imbedded in our hearts,
Embedded forever,never to depart.

We thank God for the 55 years He gave us with you.
The pain that you have suffered now is all through.
Moms hurt and pain goes so deep,
I thank God for her strength,that He has given her,
To every challenge meet.

She loves us with a love that has gone far and beyond the call,
Her needs has never mattered,shes been here for us all.

We'll miss you more with each and every passing day,
We thank God for all the "I love yous" that we had the chance to say,
To each other,and pray all the family knows.
the love you had for us and the ways you always showed,

We have been hurt through all your pain and tests,
God reached down and proved to us,He only takes the best.
We will never say good-bye,
For our love for you will never die.
Love Always,Mom,Bill,Bud & Donna and family
wrote by DJ French 6/14/2002

Fred won many trophies and awards in his life for tennis,boxing and basketball.I have newspaper articles that I am going to put on when I get a new computer so I can have a scanner.Fred never married and never had any children so he put his love for children on my 2 sons,Shane and Shawn.We all lived in California for a number of years and he took them everywhere.He also loved our niece,Gidget with all of his heart.Fred moved back to Arkansas shortly after we did and remained here until his death.He loved to work and went out 3 days before he went into that hospital for the last time and asked our brother to let him work.He could have taught school but he preferred construction work all of his life.He wasn't happy unless he was doing something.When our mom moved back to Arkansas 4 years ago,she bought a house that was unfinished.Fred and a couple of workers of his finished it and she has a beautiful home.He was very close to our mom,since he had never married.They loved going to flea marts,yard sales,etc.Fred fought harder to live than anyone that I have ever known.Mom and I had to literally hold him in the hospital bed the last week he was there.There are wonderful memories of Freddy in my heart and they will always be there,but I couldnt stand to see him in the pain that he was in for almost 3 years,but especially the last months.Its hard to go to the cemetery and see the 6 graves that are there and only 2 out of 8 are empty.My grandparents,dad,son and 2 brothers are all there now or their bodies are.I know that they have gone on to be with the Lord and are waiting for us to join them.

This is a news clipping from the Newport Independent about Freds coach and mentor being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame at Oral Roberts University,Coach Bernis Duke


July 08, 2002
Coach Bernis Duke honored at Oral Roberts University

By Sam Boyce, Jr. / Independent Feature Writer

"Legendary Newport Basketball Coach inducted in to NCAA Tennis Hall of Fame"

The Winter Report of the NCAA Tennis Hall of Fame Newsletter announced that six players and one coach were to be inducted this year into its hallowed hall. That one coach mentioned was Bernis Duke of Oral Roberts University. Coach Duke's caption read: "Head men's coach 33 years (1967-99) Originated Oral Robert's tennis program. Career dual match record (563-225) ranks sixth among NCAA Div. 1 coaches for most wins. Most famous proteges were Peter Van Lingen, Pekka Salia, Brett Edwards, Cyril Suk (director of men's tennis in Czechoslovakia) and Kirka Mendados (director of women's tennis in Czechoslovakia). Duke is a graduate of Arkansas College."

What the caption didn't read was that prior to his coaching days at Oral Roberts, Duke was the head basketball coach at Newport High School and led the 1965 basketball team to Newport's one and only state basketball championship. That team, which included Bill Holt, Mike Allen, Bill Osier, Don Smotherman, Paul Massey, Ronnie Stites, Fred Sweatt, Philip Sexton, Bob Blanshard and Jim Holt, will be forever remembered as Newport's finest.

Many of those former players (Bill Holt, Bill Osier, Joe Morgan and Paul Massey were on hand three weeks ago at Oral Roberts University to attend a surprise dinner given in honor of Coach Duke. The dinner was given by Coach Duke's wife, Norma and other friends of the college. One hundred twenty five people were in attendance and many old tales were told of Coach Duke. The most unique story told was that of how Coach Duke started the tennis program at Oral Roberts and how he recruited tennis players. Duke, it seems, would send out post cards with photos of Oral Roberts University to ranked tennis player from around the world asking them that if they wished to come to school in the United States, they may have that opportunity here at Oral Roberts. It worked and the tennis program which is one of the finest in the country, was born.

Another tale was told by Bill Holt, who is now the minister of Holden Ave. Church of Christ here in Newport. Holt said that Duke was a "great coach whose style and manner were both very laid back. He was not a high pressure coach and never raised his voice." In contrast to this very gentle mild-mannered description of Coach Duke, Holt goes on to impart the tale of Coach Duke back in his college days when he was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. "One particular opponent was very well known," says Holt, "Coach Duke was matched against Billy Ray Smith, Sr. (who would eventually become an all-pro football player with the Baltimore Colts). What happened back then was if a person's mouth piece fell out, it was customary to step back and allow your opponent to replace it. Billy Ray, however, must not of agreed with that custom and hit Coach Duke in the back of the head as he bent over to retrieve his mouthpiece. Upon getting back up to his feet Coach Duke then proceeded to knock Billy Ray OUT."

When it comes to athletics, Newport has always been regarded as a football school and because of the success achieved on the gridiron, basketball has always taken a back seat in terms of popularity and fan support. However, in 1965, that all changed. That year, Newport was in a basketball frenzy and it was Coach Bemis Duke who led the Greyhounds to their first state championship, a feat which has not been duplicated since. 37 years later in 2002, football still remains king in Newport, but for a brief period of time in 1965, our community was transformed into basketball town and it was Coach Duke who would set the standard for all those who would follow in his footsteps.

One of those individuals was Bill Osier, who was not only a starter for the Greyhounds in 1965, but also went on to coach the Greyhounds to several District Titles during the period of time in which Newport was considered to have achieved it greatest success--the mid-70's to mid-80's. Osier recalls Coach Duke as being way ahead of his time when it came to strategy. "His style of coaching was similar to the way the game is played today," says Osier. "Our team in 1965 was known for its up tempo offense which produced a lot of reverse lay ups and behind the back passes." Osier stated that one facet of the game which he learned from Coach Duke was his ability to teach. "Coach Duke was very very good when it came to teaching individuals the game of basketball," says Osier. "When it came to game time, however, he let us play."

Following the 1965 season, Coach Duke went on to become the assistant basketball coach at Oral Roberts University and then achieved his greatest success as a tennis coach for which he was recently inducted into that sport's Hall of Fame. However, for the fans in Newport Coach Duke will always be remembered for taking the Greyhounds to heights many never thought possible.

Follow up Article


July 11, 2002
In 1965, Hounds declare 'We're number one' in 61-49 win over Harrison

By Sam Boyce, Jr. / Independent Feature Writer

Editors Note: The following story is a follow-up to the Coach Bernis Duke Story who led the Hounds to the 1965 state AA basketball championship and who recently was inducted to the NCAA Tennis Hall of Fame as a coach.

The Newport Greyhounds won the Class AA basketball championship Saturday night as they defeated the Harrison Goblins, 67-49, at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock.

Harrison, a team that had breezed past Hope, Leachville and Paragould enroute to the finals, tried an all-court press from the very outset of the game but Newport cracked it wide open like they had all year long. With this problem out of the way, the Hounds were able to use their own sinking, hustling 2-1-2 zone defense to a real advantage, especially after they had opened up an early 6-0 lead.

Newport never trailed as they led from 6 to 10 points throughout the game. They had their most anxious moments late in the second period when Bill Holt was charged with his fourth foul, however Ronnie Stites came on to pick up the slack defensively and Bill Osier started to fire away with jump shots from the corner.

The Hounds had been noted for their offense all season long, but it was the defense that won for them Saturday night. Harrison scored only twice from the field in the first period and only three times in the final stanza. Free throws were the only thing that kept them even close.

In the last period with Newport in front 52-44, the black and orange scored 11 straight points to remove any doubt about the outcome of the game.

Once more, it was the overall balance of the Newport scoring that made the Hounds such a tough team to beat. Billy Osier scored 19 points with 10 of those coming in the third period. Mike Allen, who played the best game of his high school career, scattered his 16 points out perfectly with eight in each half. Paul Massey scored most of his 13 points in the first and last quarters and spent the rest of the time helping with the excellent ball handling of the team. Bill Holt scored seven points in the first half before he was tagged with four fouls prior to intermission, which caused 6'5" All-Stater to sit out the better part of 10 minutes. Holt ended up with 10 points for the evening. Donald Ray Smotherman scored only four points but was a keynote in the Hounds defense and directed the Black and Orange offense through 27 of its finest 32 minutes of basketball. He fouled out with five minutes remaining in the game. Ronnie Stites, the number six man on the squad, was joined by Bobby Blanshard, Jim Holt, Phil Sexton and Freddy Sweatt in a mop operation during the last minute and a half as the regulars got a well-deserved rest. Newport hit on 68 percent of its shots from the field but faltered badly from the free throw line with only 9 of 2l being made from 15 feet out.

Senior Boys' Basketball
MEMBERS: Robert Mustain, Freddy Sweatt, Bill Osier, Don Smotherman, Bobby Blanshard, Troy Johnston, Joe Morgan, Leslie Steen, Bill Holt, Dave Fellows, Paul Massey, Ronnie Stites, Mike Allen, Jerry Hulett, John Hipp, Patrick Brosh, Robert Chapman, Ronnie Bulloch, John Nance, Denny Treadway, Steven Rutledge, Lynn Dixon, Managers - Bobby Osborne, Scott Henderson

Senior Boys' Tennis
MEMBERS: Fred Sweatt, Ricky Barnes, Paul Massey, Bob Blanshard

rmer ORU Tennis Coach Elected to ITA Hall of Fame

Bernis Duke, the architect of the Oral Roberts University tennis program, was recently elected to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Hall of Fame along with five others.

Duke, who coached tennis at ORU for 33 years and still teaches on a part-time basis for the University, will be formally inducted on Wednesday, May 22 in College Station, Texas during the NCAA Tennis Championships.

The 73-year old Duke went to work for ORU the first day the University opened in 1965. He served as an assistant basketball coach under Bill White during the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons, before convincing then-President Oral Roberts to sponsor a men's tennis team.

Nearly 800 matches later, Duke retired from his tennis coaching duties following the 1999 season as the sixth-winningest active coach in NCAA Division I with 563 career victories (and just 225 defeats). The inaugural tennis season of 1967-68 ranks among his finest, as ORU posted a perfect 23-0 mark. That team, along with the 1970-71 (30-4 record) and 1980-81 (31-7) squads, earned Top 10 rankings in the NCAA.

Duke has been the subject of many articles in national publications because of his "postcard recruiting" efforts. Early in his ORU career, Duke recruited student-athletes by sending out postcards of the campus. Through this method, he managed to bring many top players to ORU.

Overall, he coached more than 125 athletes from over 25 different countries. Some of the most notable include Peter Van Lingen (South Africa; advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open in 1967), Pekka Salia (Finland; went to the third round of Wimbledon in 1967), Brett Edwards, George Oklaidas, Cyril Suk and Jirika Medndos.

The ITA Hall of Fame is housed at the Dan Magill Tennis Center, located in Athens, Georgia. Joining Duke as 2002 inductees are former collegiate tennis standouts Richard Harte (Harvard; deceased), Julius Seligson (Lehigh; deceased), Erick Iskersky (Trinity), Tim Mayotte (Stanford), Paul Annacone (Tennessee), and Rick Leach (Southern California).

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