CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A coach honored as a legend in Carter County has died.
Former Happy Valley High School coach and player, Chuck Babb, told News Channel 11 Monday that Charlie Bayless died early Monday morning.
“He was a fireball. He was a bundle of energy but he was also just a quality man… learned a lot about life and he was always there for his boys,” Babb said of Bayless. “He was comfortable with who he was. He had his own system… way of doing things and he really didn’t put on any shows for anybody. He just was just who he was… you learn from that to figure out who you are and be true to yourself.”
Bayless coached Happy Valley High School’s basketball team to 964 wins during his time as head coach. He also led them to nine state tournament appearances and won Happy Valley a state championship.
“He was certainly a strong disciplinarian coach and one that wasn’t a whole lot of fun to play for him but you respected that afterward… after you graduated and left,” said Marty Street who played on the championship team. “He expected a lot of you… he expected a lot of you as a player and he expected a lot of you as a person and I think certainly had a big influence on people’s lives throughout the years.”
Street went on to become a coach himself, often finding himself across the court from Bayless.
“He was very difficult to prepare for. He played in such a unique style and was so prepared,” said Street. “His teams were so fundamental and very very good defensive teams.”
Bayless coached at Happy Valley for 59 years.
“When you talk about Happy Valley, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is coach Bayless and his family because they have been a part of everything,” said Happy Valley HS principal Doug Mitchell. “They attend all the football games. His daughters were the cheerleading sponsors for 30 plus years. His wife was already here. Coach Bayless and his family are ingrained in both happy valley high school and the happy valley community.”
In September 2021, Bayless and his wife, Jane, were honored by the Carter County Commission. Commissioners read a proclamation that honored Bayless. It was received by his four daughters.
“Charlie Bayless was a man’s man. He was a very loyal person, tougher than nails but loved helping people, especially young people,” said Greg Goulds who played for Bayless and has been married to his daughter, Karen, for 47 years.
“He taught me a lot about basketball but he taught me, more importantly, things about life and how important loyalty was to your team… he called them ‘my boys’ and your family and your team and other people. And you’d be better off serving others always in your life,” said Goulds.
He and his late wife also started the Charlie and Jane Bayless Scholarship.
“Tons of kids have been helped through that. I want to say it’s been going for right at 20 years,” Babb explained. “It’s paid for doctors and nurses, lawyers to go to school. So, he’s got a definite impacting legacy on that.”
Bayless was also a World War II veteran and the subject of the book, “100 Years as a Warrior,” by Charles Peters.