Educator’s legacy still helps students

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2001

The legacy of a former Brookhaven school teacher and coachcontinues to impact the lives of students and teachers in theschool system as well as some in the community.

This weekend a basketball tournament will be held in honor ofthe late C.O. Tanner, who touched the lives of many with his strongethics.

“I just want to try to pay him back, in some way, for some ofthe things that helped me be successful,” said Emelda Bryant, amath teacher at Alexander Junior High School.

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The men’s tournament will consist of about five teams battlingit out from 10 a.m. Saturday until, in the gymnasium named afterTanner at Alexander.

The C.O. Tanner Tournament will not only serve to recognize agreat past educator, it will also help around 125 students raisefunds for an educational field trip.

“I plan on taking some of my classes to the John C. StennisSpace Center and the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans,”said Bryant. “We will have to charter four buses for the trip, sowe are trying to raise money for that.”

The tournament’s admission fee of $1, along with concessionfunds and other fundraisers, will be used for the field trip.

Tanner family members believe the tournament will be asuccessful fundraiser that the educator would have enjoyed being apart of because of his love for students, sports and education.

“He loved sports, especially basketball, so we are honored tohave that in his name,” said Michael Tanner of his late father.

C.O. Tanner taught math and coached basketball, football andtrack in the Brookhaven School District for more than 30 yearsbefore passing away at the age of 67 on June 15, 1982.

His teaching career includes a list of accomplishments such asbeing selected as Teacher of the Year. C.O. Tanner’s teachingskills changed many lives, said Bryant, who includes herself on thelist.

“He turned my life around. Because of him, I majored inmathematics and have three degrees in mathematics,” said Bryant,recalling the way C.O. Tanner encouraged her to stay in school at atime when she wanted to give up.

She said the most notable aspect of C.O. Tanner’s career was theway he cared for students. Bryant remembers how he would drivearound at night making sure everyone was safe at home and not up tomischief.

“He was a parent to all the students,” said Bryant. “He wasthere for the students all the time.”

Bryant gives credit to C.O. Tanner for being a strong pillar inher life, and she tries to practice those same loving techniques inher teaching career.

“He was a great prosperous man,” said Bryant. “He was reallyactive in the community, in all areas.”

During his years of coaching football, Tanner had a winningrecord with six Big Eight championships and eight State Bowls.

In basketball, he also posted a winning record while guiding histeams to 15 district championships, 12 South Mississippichampionships, two Big Eight championships. His basketball teamswere the runners-up 13 times in Big Eight championships. His trackteams won 12 consecutive state championships.

C.O. Tanner helped organize the Magnolia Activities Associationand South Mississippi Board of Officials, of which he was thepresident for six years. He served as the first state director ofthe activities association. He also served on the NationalBasketball Committee, all committees in the Big Eight Conferenceand as a football and basketball official for 36 years.