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Malcolm Pendergrass Jr.
June 16, 1943 ~ September 15, 2023 (age 80) 80 Years Old
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It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of William Malcolm Pendergrass, Jr., aka "Big." He was born June 16, 1943, in Huntingdon, TN to Malcolm Pendergrass, Sr. and Lucille Milam Pendergrass, and he died peacefully on September 15, 2023, surrounded by his family. He was a beloved football coach and cherished socialite who touched the lives of many in communities across the state of Tennessee and beyond.
Malcolm grew up in Huntingdon, TN, and completed his bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Tennessee at Martin and his master’s degrees in both English and History at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Over the course of his 40+ year career in education and athletics, he coached various sports and taught many subjects, but his dedication to the sport of football and subjects of English literature and history were unwavering. He served as a football coach for several decades, imparting not only athletic skills but also valuable life lessons to countless young athletes. He began his coaching career in Atlanta, GA as an assistant coach at Towers High School. He held other assistant football coaching positions at Harriman High School in Harriman, TN and Huntingdon High School in Huntingdon, TN. He then had a successful stint as head coach at Harriman High School before relocating back to Huntingdon, TN. He spent the last several years of his career at West Carroll High School in Atwood, TN where he served as the catalyst that resurrected War Eagle football. Inheriting a program in its 6-year existence that had never won a game, he not only led them to many wins, but also spearheaded the construction of a stadium and fieldhouse, neither of which existed prior to his arrival. He had a love of books, poetry, history, and writing. He was known in the classroom for his dramatic readings, engaging lectures and high expectations. He retired as an assistant principal and athletic director.
Beyond his coaching & leadership prowess, Malcolm was known for his vibrant personality. He had a gift for bringing people together, fostering connections and creating lasting memories for all who had the privilege of knowing him. He often entertained friends and fellow coaches, and these events became so notable that the group was dubbed "The 1980 Social Club" as a nod to his sons' high school football numbers. His door at "The Shed" was always open. He mentored, debated, and joked with the masses. He was an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves and Tennessee Volunteers. Festivities at The Shed on football Saturdays were celebrated "early and often” with the grill rolling and continued into the night with heavy pours of his homemade wine. He spent his time in retirement gardening, biking, spoiling his dogs and "getting the total concept" in time spent at the family farm.
Malcolm Pendergrass, Jr. is survived by his two sons, Brad (Laura) Pendergrass of Atlanta, GA, Jeff (Mallory) Pendergrass of Huntingdon, TN, and his uncle Ross (Jean) Pendergrass of Huntingdon, TN. He had a friendship with his sons that extended beyond parenting. He and Jeff completed countless projects together and hosted many social gatherings. He and Brad connected through sports analysis and cooking. They carry on his legacy of leadership, sportsmanship, relationship building, camaraderie and community spirit. His memory will forever live on in the hearts of his family, friends, and the many lives he touched.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday October 7, 2023, from 5:00-8:00 PM at The Tea Room in Huntingdon, TN. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Huntingdon Beautification Committee, Carroll County Library, or other charitable organization of your choice.
Rest in peace, Big. You will always be remembered with love and gratitude.