By CRISTIN REECE, CHERIL VERNON and ANGIE ALVARADO
Longtime educator and coach Carl Saxon, 64, passed away Thursday and while he didn’t live in Anderson County at the time of his death, he will be remembered by many locals for the positive marks he made on their lives.
Saxon, of Smithville, died during surgery at the Heart Hospital of Austin. He worked in education for 43 years and served as a coach at Frankston, Grapeland and Westwood school districts for many of them. He was a basketball coach at Westwood Independent School District from 1982 to 1993.
“He could coach anything and did,” said Jack Cherry, retired WISD assistant principal who worked with Saxon. “That’s just the way it was in those days. I knew him for several years when he worked in Grapeland and was actually the one that talked him into coming to Westwood.”
Cherry was not only a coworker to Saxon. The pair became friends outside of work too, since they both had children roughly the same age.
“We spent lots of hours working together, visiting with our families — we became good friends,” he said, and added that Saxon exuded a laid-back air and at the same time brooked no attitude from students.
“He was a lot of fun to work with,” Cherry remembered. “Sometimes coaches and their students can have a tumultuous relationship but I don’t remember any player — or even other students really — that didn’t like or respect him.
“From a parent’s standpoint, he was unique in that you knew when your children were with him, they would be taken care of, they would be well behaved and they would be well looked after. He’s the type of guy who, if there was no meal money, he’d pull in and buy students drinks and burgers himself. He was just that type of guy.”
Former Cayuga coach Tommy Allison, a 1991 Westwood graduate, remembers his former coach as a great man who truly loved those he taught.
“Coach Saxon was a man who loved kids. He cared for each and every one of us,” said Allison, who is now the athletic director and head football coach at Robinson High School.
Saxon was Allison’s football coach starting his freshman year and also varsity basketball coach. He also taught Allison in drivers’ education.
Allison, who credits Saxon and his other high school coaches at Westwood for influencing and steering him into a career in coaching, said he remembers the way the animated coach loved kids and tried to be a mentor for them.
“When I was head football coach at Cayuga (in 2009) and we won the state football championship, he (Saxon) was one of the first to call me and congratulate me. He told me how proud he was of me,” Allison said. “He was just a great, great man.”
Westwood class of 1989 alum Stacy Orem Sweet remembers Saxon the same way.
“It was a shock to hear Coach Saxon had passed away,” she said in a statement emailed to the Herald-Press. “I had him for American history and did my student driving with him. All of the students loved him. I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. He was a lot of fun in class, but we learned a lot and he was an excellent teacher.
“If you were with Coach Saxon you were usually laughing. Going to school with his children, Brent and Ashley, I was able to see him as a father too. He was a great father and husband — just a good man. I hope he and his family know how they were all loved here and how much he will be missed.”
Saxon is survived by his wife, Mary Catherine; children, Brent Saxon and wife Dana of the Woodlands, Ashley Saxon of Smithville, and Trey Saxon of Austin; and four grandchildren.
Services for Saxon were held today at the First United Methodist Church of Smithville. Interment followed the service at the Oak Hills Cemetery under the direction of All Faiths of The Pines Funeral Home in Smithville.