Vernon Parish: Looking Back

Remembering B.R. Harvey

By Billy Crawford

Burrell Ray Harvey was born in the Vernon Parish community of Evans on March 27, 1925.

After graduating from Southwestern Industrial Institute in Lafayette in 1950, he began a 30-year career in education in Pitkin as a classroom teacher, coach, athletic director, and principal.

His coaching record for the Pitkin Tigers: a compiled boys’ and girls’ basketball record of 445-140, included 16 District titles and three state titles; two for girls and one for boys. He was also an assistant coach to Reginald Lambright, helping lead Pitkin to a state championship in baseball.

He served on the Executive Committee of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and vice-president in 1979-80.

In 1995, he became the first Vernon Parish educator to be enshrined as coach-administrator into the Louisiana High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

1966 Class B Boys’ Championship Game

Pitkin 70, Florien 66

Asa Skinner, retired Vernon Parish District Attorney and a former Wampus Cat star hooper, remembers, “I watched Pitkin play Florien about four times during the 1965-66 basketball season. In the state championship game Pitkin defeated Florien and George Corley. All five of the starters for the Tigers averaged in double figures and all five made an all-tournament team during the year.

As I recall the starters were Gary Lacaze, Monroe Thompson, Tim Creed, Ronald James and Edgar Perkins. I dare say as great as these players, so were their bench players: Jack Bass, Ralph Thompson, Gary Miller and Edward Perkins. Without B.R. they may have not won. At half time coach took Perkins off Corley and had Tim Creed guard him; he shut him down.”

Terry Lambright, Vernon Parish District Attorney, remembers, “As a student at Pitkin High School, I can still hear the jingling of keys or coins in his pockets as he walked down the hall. You did not want to be caught in the hall during class time!”

He retired from the school in 1980 and planned to live a quiet contented life with his wife, spending time gardening and watching the Tigers from the sidelines. Anyone who knew B.R. would tell you he could not sit idly by. He soon found himself mentoring coaches and players, often with inspirational talks during halftime and practice.

In 1984 he was elected to represent the Pitkin community on the Vernon Parish School Board, serving until 2006 upon his retirement.

B.R. Harvey died November 28, 2008, after which he was memorialized at a funeral held in the PHS gymnasium with burial at his home church, Gravel Hill Baptist Church.