LITTLE ROCK Houston Nutt Sr. was remembered Friday for
the many roles he filled father, coach, mentor, friend.
"What a special man he was," the Rev. Rex Horne Jr. told the
hundreds of people who attended a memorial service for Nutt at
Immanual Baptist Church. "Not bad for a guy from Fordyce,
Arkansas, to do what he did. He had love and pride for the deaf
community. He was a father figure."
Dignitaries from Arkansas gathered at the church to pay their
respects to the patriarch of the state's most well-known coaching
family, who died Wednesday at 74 of complications from a stroke.
Officials and athletic department employees from the University
of Arkansas and Arkansas State University were among the
well-wishers who gathered with family and friends to honor the
father of head coaches at both unversities.
Horne said Nutt was a trailblazer in both the Little Rock
community and at the Arkansas School for the Deaf, where he served
in various roles, including athletic director, for 32 years before
retiring in 1987.
In the first few rows of pews sat the families of Nutt's four
sons, including Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt Jr. and
Arkansas State basketball coach Dickey Nutt. Another son, Dennis,
is the basketball coach at Texas State and son Danny is an
assistant football coach at Arkansas.
But the focus was on their dad, who played under Adolph Rupp at Kentucky and Henry Iba at Oklahoma A&M now Oklahoma State
before competing as a member of the American Association for the
Deaf team that in 1957 took home a gold medal in international
competition in Milan, Italy. A native of Fordyce, he was a member
of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Deaf Hall of Fame and the
Arkansas High School Hall of Fame.
"He's an incredible man," Dickey Nutt said after he watched
his niece, Hanna, sing a hymn during the service. "He gave us so
much and I can't say enough about him. He loved everybody,
especially all of the deaf people."
Dickey Nutt was in the grocery score early Friday morning and
said that a young employee told him how much Nutt Sr. made an
impact on other people.
"I left there with tears in my eyes," he said.
Dickey Nutt joined his brothers, who formed a line near the main
entrance of the church after the ceremony and exchanged greetings
with those in attendance. Each son flashed sign language, as they
communicated with each other and some of the guests who had hearing
Among those who waited to express their condolences to the Nutt
family were Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, Arkansas
basketball coach Stan Heath and Arkansas State associate athletic
director Randy Knowles.
The Arkansas athletic department provided a bus for its
employees to get down to Little Rock from Fayetteville and the
University of Arkansas Board of Trustees moved its Friday meeting
from Fayetteville to Little Rock so that its members could attend
"It was real important to be here," Arkansas offensive line
coach Mike Markuson said. "He left a legacy and it was out of
respect for our boss and a man who showed great humanity."
Arkansas senior running back De'Arrius Howard said he made the trek to attend the memorial service because both Houston Nutt Jr.
and Danny Nutt went out of their way to be present at the funeral
of Howard's brother in 2002.
"A lot of guys wanted to come down," said Howard, who was
accompanied by six of his teammates. "It meant a lot us. (Houston
Nutt Sr.) was a big part of the Razorbacks family."
Houston Nutt Jr. agreed and said the number of people who came
out to pay their last respects for his father was telling.
"It's unbelievable to see a room full of your friends," he
said as he clutched a white tissue. "It just shows you the type of
legacy he left."