By Jack Hackley
Every once in a while, someone comes in to a small town and makes a big difference. In Oak Grove, it was a school teacher and coach by the name of George Pirch, formerly of Richmond.
Over a period of 22 years, he taught thousands of students, including my grandsons. They kept telling me about the different things their coach had taught them, including how to shake hands. I could tell George had made a big impression on them.
I didn’t think much about it, until I went over to Richmond. I was writing an article about the three Twyman brothers and went in the courthouse to interview Mike Twyman, who is the western cmmissioner. When I walked into the meeting room and the Commissioners saw me, and knowing I was from Oak Grove, they shut the meeting down and started telling George Pirch stories.
Even the maintenance man John Dee Thompson, who had a broom in his hand, laid it down and joined in. It seems as if George went to Richmond High School, and made a name for himself playing football. He was good enough to get a scholarship at MU. He spent some time in the service and came back to Richmond to teach and coach there for 12 years before coming to Oak Grove.
One story they told was about a football game George played in where Richmond was getting run over by the other team. George called “time out,” but no one went to the sidelines to talk to the coach. George simply called a time out to give the team a pep talk, and they went on to win the game.
Allen Dale, the eastern commissioner in the county, was a student of George’s in a physical education class. George lined everybody up and went down the line teaching everyone how to shake hands with a firm handshake, and told them to look the person in the eye, and tell them the truth.
Allen said he had tried to follow George’s advice, and that was why he was a commissioner today. He added, “And I would do anything for this man who has positively influenced thousands of students from two communities who are now scattered around the world.”