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Reflections with Sammy Way: Robert 'Bob' Jenkins was an outstanding teacher and coach

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 9/28/19

Reflections remembers one of Sumter's leading coaches and mentors who began his stellar career at Lincoln High School in 1952. Coach Robert Alvah "Bobby" Jenkins worked with and trained young people during his entire career in the Sumter public …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: Robert 'Bob' Jenkins was an outstanding teacher and coach

Posted

Reflections remembers one of Sumter's leading coaches and mentors who began his stellar career at Lincoln High School in 1952. Coach Robert Alvah "Bobby" Jenkins worked with and trained young people during his entire career in the Sumter public schools.

He is credited with molding and shaping countless young athletes during his tenure at Lincoln High School. He spent a large portion of his life guiding numerous young people to successful careers while serving as a guidance counselor at McLaurin Junior High and at Morris College.

Coach Jenkins was born in Manning, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Alvah (Stella White) Jenkins. He graduated from Mather Academy in Camden and enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta prior to being drafted and serving as a naval hospital corpsman during World War II. Following his discharge, he enrolled at S.C. State, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees.

He spent his professional career in Sumter's school district, primarily at Lincoln High School, where he taught science. He also coached, leading Lincoln's football, basketball, track and tennis teams to numerous successful seasons. He became athletic director and encouraged youth in their growth and development. He later served as supervisor with the National Teacher Corps and held positions as a guidance counselor at McLaurin Junior High and Bates Middle School. His diligence and hard work made the Upward Bound Program at Morris College a success.

Coach Jenkins enjoyed a life of working with numerous people and organizations. The list is extensive and included his induction into the South Carolina Basketball Officials Hall of Fame in 2002. He held memberships in the Clarendon County NAACP and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., was commander of American Legion Post No. 294 and served as a trustee of Trinity AME Church and as a sports official on the high school and collegiate levels.

Coach Jenkins died Saturday, Dec. 3, 2005, at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Barbara Williams Jenkins, a son and daughter and numerous grandchildren.

In addition, he is remembered by the countless young athletes he helped mold with positive life values. Coach Jenkins is remembered by the author of this tribute as a soft-spoken, caring mentor and friend. I first met "Coach" my initial year of teaching and coaching at McLaurin Junior High. His guidance and ability to listen with patience taught me many valuable lessons that made me a better coach and person. Webster defines a coach as a "tutor, instructor, trainer, a person in overall charge of a team and assumes responsibility of preparing one for an examination."

To have the honor of the title "coach" ranks with having the title of "friend" and "mentor" added to one's name. Coach Jenkins was a member of a group of "coaches" who profoundly affected my life and the lives of countless others.