A mark above special is significant

Published 7:09 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

In a past column about the Bug House and the fun we had there, I credited two people, Mrs. Martin and Alton Little. Mrs. Martin’s smile and friendliness was later taken to the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center, named appropriately after her. One person not forgotten by me was Mr. Alton Little.

Alton Little was a native of Roanoke Rapids but came to Washington from East Carolina after graduation to head up our city-wide recreation department. He and Mrs. Martin were a formidable pair. At that time, Washington wanted to establish a more diverse recreation program. We could not have had two better people than Mrs. Martin and Alton Little.

Alton Little touched many young lives in the time he was here and brought many new ideas that he incorporated. Mr. Little loved people, especially young kids. He was tough, yet fair, to everyone he was in contact with. He used his collegiate background and his love for kids to implement the changes he felt necessary. There was not a day in the summer that a ride with Mr. Little did not teach a young man something. Whether it was how to line a field or mark a tennis court, he was always teaching us how to work. Having a good work ethic was important to Mr. Little, and he demonstrated it every day through his own work.

It is funny in life how we remember situations that happened and who was responsible. For me, that was called a teaching moment. One lesson that I carried into my professional career that Alton Little taught me was how to defend an unbalanced line in football. During a little league football practice, we were playing against a team that used an unbalanced line. Mr. Little, who was a good high school player, had played for Coach Hoyle in Roanoke Rapids. He had seen this many times and immediately told us how to defend this unusual formation. It worked, and throughout my tenure as a coach, when we played against this, we did exactly what Mr. Little taught us in the fifth grade. Also, anytime we played in Roanoke Rapids, I would look around Hoyle Field and think about Alton Little.

Mr. Little unfortunately left Washington and moved to Greenville and then to Athens, Georgia. He now has a doctorate in Parks and Recreation and has retired from teaching at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He is the volunteer preacher in the church that he and his wife attended before she passed away. His two girls, one in Florida and one teaching at the University of Louisville, stay in contact with their Dad.

Thank you, Dr. Little, for all that you did for our town and the lives you touched! For a person to be special is good, but you were significant! That is so much better. We all would like to say thanks for helping shape our lives during our formative years. Like many others, you helped make us better people!

The best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places: Washington, NC!
PS. Thank you to the many friends that have either written, called or personally thanked me for these articles. I can assure you I enjoy writing them for you.

— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.