A tribute to
Coach John F. "Bud" Tomlin
by his daughter Linda Tomlin



Coach John F. "Bud" Tomlin powered the Thomas Jefferson Yellow Jackets from 1946 through 1953 compiling an eight-season record of 77-19-8 (.779%).  His 1948, 1949, 1950, and 1952 teams advanced to the state playoffs.  The 1948 Yellow Jackets went 12-1 and earned a state semifinal berth against Waco High School.  The very next year the 1949 team went 12-1 and once again forged to the state semifinal playoff match with a different foe, Austin High School.  Thomas Jefferson's 1950 Team posted a 10-0-1 record, and the 1953 Yellow Jackets went 7-3-1.
     Coach Tomlin's coaching career might ring another bell for some folks who remember him as the only coach who the students declared a strike from school when the district's superintendent fired "Uncle Bud" after the 1953 season.  The two men disagreed many times in budget areas like the coach wanting to spend money on things like flying the Jacket "B" team to the playoffs, transporting the Maroon & Gold Band and the Red Hussars to playoff berths.  Coach wanted all students involved to be honored at playoff achievements.  Coach Tomlin was not known for his tactfulness and even though he became crosswise with the administrators in the Port Arthur school district, Bishop Byrne hired him in 1956 to serve as head coach for the Shamrocks.
     During his reign as head coach of the Shamrocks Coach Tomlin walked out of Leo & Willies with his entire football team because their opponents from Louisiana had a black player who the establishment refused to serve in the dining room.  Coach Tomlin took both ball clubs to another establishment stating that they could serve all of us or none of us as we are all the same.  Tomlin remained at the helm as head coach for Bishop Byrne for eight football seasons capturing outstanding records.  Coach was a boisterous, full of "spit and vinegar" kind of guy, full of ideas and a genius when it came to helping his team to adjust to whatever changes the opposing team might try.
     Coach John F. "Bud" Tomlin was born in Washington D.C. and shortly thereafter his father was appointed as an Indian Agent in the Oklahoma area.  Coach Tomlin grew us as a transplanted "Okie From Muskogee."  Coach began his career coaching in Oklahoma high schools and worked his way to head coach at the University of Arkansas in 1943.  Port Arthur I.S.D. made him an offer that he could not refuse in the summer of 1946.  Coach, Mrs. Tomlin and two daughters Janey age 5 and Linda age 3 changed their roots to be in Texas for the rest of their lives.  Coach Tomlin brought Leon "Pete" Pense with him as an assistant coach when he was hired by Port Arthur.  Coach Pense was an All Conference Guard on the 1943 University of Arkansas football team.  Coach Pense became a well-known head basketball coach for many years for Thomas Jefferson.  Coach Pense and Tomlin's daughter, Linda, are pictured in the 1961 yearbook as Teacher of the Month and Student of the Month, respectively.  Both of Tomlin's daughters Janey and Linda supported the Jackets as Red Hussars.  Tomlin's son Tom set records at Lamar University as their starting quarterback in the late 60's and early 70's.  Coach Tomlin's other son John Tomlin, II, held the family name; but when tragedy struck the Columbine High School, the "John Tomlin" name lineage terminated.  Coach Tomlin's great grandson John Tomlin was shot and killed in the library at Columbine that fatal day.
     To all you sports fans out there (as Dick Oliver, Sports Writer or Gordon Baxter, radio broadcaster would say) can you believe the old guy insisted that his nurses and everyone call him "Coach" right up to his last breath.  The Coach once said, "How could anyone let their livelihood depend on a bunch of teenagers?"  Well, "Uncle Bud" did!  He taught and coached for 36 years and told tall tales and shared precious memories.  I remember my final moment with "Uncle Bud" during his last few hours on the planet--he grinned and gave me a big wink as if he had one more play up his sleeve.


Return to HOME Page