TheFlashToday.com photos by BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE — (May 4, 2017) — In 44 years at Tarleton State University, Dr. Joe Gillespie has been a teacher, coach, athletic director, department head and so much more.
Gillespie, the most familiar of faces in a kinesiology department full of them is retiring, leaving behind what Stephenville Mayor Kenny Weldon aptly called “A legacy.”
Dr. Steve Simpson led the brief ceremony Thursday afternoon in Wisdom Gym, where Gillespie first reported for duty at Tarleton to begin the 1973-74 school year. He went on to raise a family in Stephenville, including son Joseph Gillespie, who coached Stephenville to its fifth state championship in 2012 and is currently an assistant at the University of Tulsa. As he has the last 44 years at Tarleton and more, Dr. Gillespie’s wife, Kathy, was by his side Thursday, while kids and grandkids joined past athletes who were coached by Gillespie in traveling to Stephenville where quite the crowd gathered to pay tribute to one of Tarleton’s longest-tenured employees.
“It’s been humbling and it’s been a great ride. The Tarleton kinesiology department is second to none,” said Dr. Gillespie. “I’ve been to hundreds of these (retirement receptions) over the years, but it’s a lot different being on this side.”
He’s staying on that side this time, he says, after placing a letter of resignation in Dr. Simpson’s box last year, only to retrieve it and return for year 44.
Gillespie hired Lonn Reisman to take over the men’s basketball program in 1988, and Reisman has completed 29 seasons as head coach at Tarleton, along with 25 as athletic director. Reisman, the winningest active college basketball coach at any level in Texas, called Gillespie a mentor, and was understandably emotional during his speech here. Check out photos from the event below.