All of Wellborn is mourning “Mr. Wellborn” tonight.
John Adcock, the legendary former coach at Wellborn High School and 2012 Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, died Tuesday evening as a result of complications from a procedure related to his pacemaker, according to long-time friend Wayne Carden.
“He went in to have his batteries replaced in his pacemaker and defibrillator,” said Carden, who was with Adcock when he died. “When they got in, they were going to change the wire that goes into his heart, and they hit a blood vessel, and they had to do open-heart surgery on him.
“After that, everything just went downhill.”
Carden said several of Adcock’s vital organs gradually failed.
“They came in today, the doctor did, and just told them there wasn’t anything else they could do,” Carden said. “Just make him comfortable.
“So, they started turning everything off, and he died a little after 7 tonight. He went peacefully.”
Adcock was 80. Sue Adcock, his widow, said the family is finalizing arrangements.
“Everybody knows, and we all call him ‘Mr. Wellborn’,” said Carden, one of Adcock’s former players. “Wellborn was first in his heart, and that’s the way the community felt about him.”
What follows is an edited version of a profile written by Star sports columnist Joe Medley and published June 10, 2012, in the lead-up to Adcock’s induction to the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.
WELLBORN — One might ask how a Georgia boy becomes “Mr. Wellborn.”
Well, beyond his 50 years of service to Wellborn High School, which he continues to this day as a substitute teacher and volunteer, the answer is quite by chance.
If John Adcock hadn’t happened up to the pool tables in the University of Alabama student union near the end of his senior year, who knows where he might have ended up?
It was there that he had a chance meeting with a coach from Calhoun County who happened to know that Wellborn had a coaching opening.
“I was very fortunate I got the job,” Adcock said. “I really was.”
The rest is history, and Adcock’s long history of success as a coach and his service as a Panther supporter won him selection into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Adcock — who played basketball at East Coweta (Ga.) High School, Young Harris Junior College and Alabama — arrived at Wellborn in 1963 as the Panthers’ head basketball coach. The Panthers won an area championship in the first of his 15 seasons, and he was chosen Calhoun County coach of the year by his peers three times.
Wellborn reached the Calhoun County championship game once and semifinals seven times on his watch. His 1970 team finished 20-8 and led the county in scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.3 points a game.
He also served as an assistant varsity football coach, junior high football coach, varsity baseball coach and varsity track coach.
He coached the varsity “B” team from 1978-96 and again from 1998-2000, a total of 20 years, and finished his career with a 408-218 record.
“He was a great coach,” said Johnny Prater, who played for Adcock’s first Wellborn team. “He knew what he was doing. He just didn’t always have the material to work with, but he knew what he was doing and knew how to coach.
“He wouldn’t have the record that he did have if he didn’t know how to coach.”
Prater called playing for Adcock “an experience” and said Adcock’s teams always believed they could win.
“You had to watch out for Wellborn and their basketball,” Prater said. “One time, you might beat them 30 points, and the next time, you might get beat 10 points.”
Prater recalled Adcock’s signature towel throws and claimed responsibility for a few such outbursts. Prater recalled disagreeing about a play, leaving the bench and walking toward the locker room.
As the game went on, Adcock followed Prater and gave him a stern talk, the content of which is best left out of a family paper.
“He was more like a daddy to me because my daddy died when I was 10,” Prater said. “Coach Adcock would come by the house and take me back to school. He’s a great guy.”
Well into his retirement years, Adcock remained as a substitute teacher. He also worked the pass gate at Wellborn sporting events.
It’s hard to imagine Wellborn without him. Then again, it’s not so hard when one imagines the happenstance involved in his coming there.
It started toward the end of his senior year at Alabama. He was about to get married, which might not have happened then if friends and roommates like Leroy Jordan hadn’t let him borrow their cars for dates.
Adcock was about to graduate and wondering how he would support his family. Maybe looking to forget his worries for a time, he wandered up to the area in the old student union that had pool and ping pong tables.
“I had never been in there in all the years I was at Alabama,” he said.
Adcock came across a man who was playing pool by himself. The man invited him to play.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll play’,” Adcock said. “I was playing, and he said he was a football coach at Ohatchee High School, Grover Whaley. I said I needed a basketball job, and he said the Wellborn job was open.
“I said, ‘Where’s Wellborn?’ He said in Anniston.”
Talk about light-bulb moments. Adcock’s bride to be, the former Sue Hollingsworth, was from Anniston.
“So, Grover was going to Ohatchee that weekend,” Adcock said. “I rode down there with him, and I got hired on the spot.”
That’s when Adcock started his 50-plus years of service to Wellborn, and his devotion won him the nickname “Mr. Wellborn” from a former Panthers quarterback, Dennis Dunaway.
Adcock is also a member of the Coweta Sports Hall of Fame but calls Wellborn his “second family.”
“It’s just home to me,” he said. “My wife told me that I married Wellborn on a Monday and married her on a Friday, and she didn’t know which rates first.”
And to think, what if he hadn’t wandered up into the student union that day in Tuscaloosa.
“I often wonder, if I hadn’t gone up there and met Grover,” Adcock said. “I would have never known anything about Wellborn.
“So, I’ve been very fortunate and very fortunate to be in Calhoun County, too. The 50 years I’ve been here have been great. I’ve got great friends at all the other schools I coached against.”
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.