BLUEFIELD –– The region said a tearful farewell in 2005 to several prominent area residents, including a local television icon and a legendary coach.

The dean of area high school football coaches, Coach Glynn Carlock, died on Aug. 8, 2005, following a brief illness; and television funnyman and Princeton-resident Bob Denver, the star of “Gilligan’s Island,” died Sept. 2, at a North Carolina hospital.

The region also lost two long-time public servants in 2005. Princeton City Manager Doug Freeman died suddenly on July 29 while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and one of Southwest Virginia’s most highly respected judges - Fred H. Combs - died on Aug. 7, as a result of injuries sustained in a farming accident. Paul Oliver, a long-time public servant who served for 16 years on the Bluefield Board of Directors, passed away on Nov. 4 at his home.

Carlock, 67, veteran head football coach of the Graham G-Men, was diagnosed with Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, a rare brain disease, on July 25. Carlock served as the head coach of the G-Men from 1958 to 2004 with a win-loss record of 244-119-1, and two state championships.

Family members, and several of his closest-friends, were at the side of the legendary coach at the time of his passing. “He was a good man. He lived by the morals he taught,” Mike Patton, a quarterback on Graham’s 1989 state championship team - the first of two in a span of six years, said of the coach on Aug. 8. “I think what’s hardest to believe is that up until three weeks ago, coach was out there coaching.”

Denver, 70, the beloved star of two successful television series, spent the last 14 years of his life in service to underprivileged and handicapped people. Denver, best known for his work as the title character on “Gilligan’s Island,” came to his wife’s hometown of Bluefield in the early 1990s, and soon after, moved to a house in Princeton. The television icon became an everyday resident of Four Seasons Country, and it wasn’t unusual to see Denver showing up at Broyles Nursery in Princeton, or at area fairs and festivals. Despite his passing, Denver’s wife Dreama has kept the Bob Denver Foundation going in order to continue the legacy of the television funnyman.

Freeman, 55, was hired by the Princeton City Council as city manager on Feb. 15, 1996, returning to his hometown to take over the administrative post for the city government. A native of Princeton, he grew up in the area graduating from Princeton High School in 1967, Concord College in 1972, and West Virginia Graduate College in 1977. He returned to Princeton after a distinguished career in government, including five years of service as county administrator for Horry County, S.C. Freeman also previously worked as the Director of Federal Programs for the governor’s office; as the Putnam County Administrator; as the Director of the North Putnam Public Service District, and served as County Administrator in Marion County, S.C.

Combs, 59, served 20 years and six months as the General District Court judge in Tazewell County having just retired from that position on June 30. Although retired, he had planned to continue serving as a substitute judge throughout the Commonwealth, according to his successor General District Court Judge Jack S. “Chip” Hurley Jr.

“Fred’s death is a great loss to our entire community,” Hurley said on Aug. 7. “It’s terribly said. “I believe Fred is somebody who lived every day to its fullest. He was so full of life. It’s still just so hard to believe.”

Oliver, who worked as a beat cop from 1945 to 1969, also supported all levels of scouting, and was awarded the Distinguished Citizenship Award from Bluefield’s Riley Vest Post No. 9 of the American Legion in 1988.

–– Contact Charles Owens at

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