PICKENS COUNTY — When the lives of Bill Isaacs and Dickie Stewart ended Sept. 14 in a double homicide, Pickens County lost more than two men. They lost leaders and men of conviction.
Isaacs, best known for his wins on the football field as head coach of the Pickens High School Blue Flame for 27 years, had an impact beyond wins and losses. The impact Isaacs had off the field in those years, and the years following, extends to the men who now work as coaches and community leaders, the next generation molding young minds.
Stewart, dedicated to children and his church, made an impact many would never have known, but talk to anyone who spent time with him and his impact is obvious.
Hundreds of children passed through his life never knowing the positive impact he was bringing or the result years later as they entered adulthood.
“I knew Dickie since I was eight years old and my family moved to Pickens County. He was working with the youth group then and was a part of my life all of these years,” said James Lawson, who is in charge of the student ministry of Secona Baptist Church in Seneca, Stewart’s church home. “I remember he knew I liked to read and he would always go out of his way to find books I would like. He was always involved with the youth, the church, and the community. He was the epitome of the definition of servant and he always had our best at heart.”
Over 27 years of stalking the Blue Flame sidelines, Isaacs too had an impact on the youth of Pickens County.
Pickens High School head coach John Boggs played under Isaacs and knew first hand the work ethic he espoused and the high expectations for the men under his tutelage.
“Other than my parents or grandparents, I don’t know if there are a lot of people who have had as much influence on my life as Bill Isaacs,” Boggs was quoted as saying. “He pushed as hard as he possibly could and I think we are all better men for it.”
Isaacs and Stewart were men devoted to make the lives of others and their community a better place to live, which goes back many years. Just ask Bob Gibbons of Lenoir, N.C., a teammate of Isaacs’ dating back to their conference championship in 1956.
“We were on that team together, I was a year behind Bill, but one thing I remember was how he loved to compete. He played guard and linebacker at Lenoir High School, and the center and middle linebacker at Appalachian State University,” Gibbons said.
“He married his high school sweetheart, Peggy Sanders, and even though I haven’t seen Bill in nearly 50 years it made me so sad when I found out what a great man had been lost,” he continued. “It’s hard to believe we live in a world where things like this happen more than they should. He was a great teammate and we had a close-knit group.”
The reach of these two men extended far beyond their immediate surroundings.
“I knew Bill Isaacs personally and knew Dickie Smith by reputation and both of these men had a great impact on those around them. Mr. Stewart’s work in the community and his church was well known in Pickens County,” Sen. Larry Martin said. “The fact he lost his life so tragically coming to help a neighbor, which he was always doing, says volumes about the man he was.
“Coach Isaacs was at Pickens High School when I was a student there, and I knew him and his wife. I didn’t play football, but his influence went beyond the playing field,” Martin added. “I saw them last week at a local restaurant and made sure to go back and speak with them. I’m glad I did.”
Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell, longtime head coach of the Easley Green Wave, knew Isaacs on and off the field.
“Bill and I were enemies on the field and friends off the field. I had a lot of respect for him,” Bagwell was quoted as saying. “He ran a real strong program. It’s just sad that his life had to end that way.”
While Isaacs and Stewart were known for many things, their involvement with the youth of Pickens County will live on and is summed up best by Lawson, speaking of Stewart, but apparently applicable to both: “He was always there for the kids and was willing to do anything he could.”
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.