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Coach Anson Callaway (#14) lays one in as he played basketball for Middle Georgia College on a basketball scholarship.
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Coach Anson Callaway (#14) lays one in as he played basketball for Middle Georgia College on a basketball scholarship.

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that lasted only two weeks as Faye Sikes (Virginia’s sister) scored 51 points against Glennville. The 1958 women made it to State with Faye Sikes hitting a half court shot at the buzzer to beat Toombs Central keeping the undefeated season alive.

Sports was not Anson's only focus at Collins High. One of his government students/ basketball players, 11th grader Virginia Sikes caught his eye, again. Previously he had noticed Ginny when refereeing a Collins game the previous year, and he had asked her out. She declined. After coaching her for two years, he asked Virginia if he could take her home following her high school graduation. This time she accepted, as they would no longer be teacher and student. Six weeks after their first date they were married at Pine Grove Baptist Church in 1957.

Callaway's coaching career spanned over 60 years from Collins High School where he got his start, to Groves High School in Savannah, before finally taking his spot at Lyons where he was asked to not only teach and coach but to start as part time Recreation Director.

After moving back to this area Anson also played semi-pro baseball with a team out of Cobbtown. He played well for them as a pitcher including a time in Savannah at Grayson Stadium in 1960, during a tournament when Cobbtown was facing off with Millen in the losers' bracket. Millen had a couple of players that went on to play in the Majors, but on that day Cobbtown took them to extra innings, before the game was decided in the 18th inning. Callaway pitched 14 innings in the game. Cobbtown won the game when Callaway scored in the bottom of the 18th. His pitching stat line for the game was he gave up just one hit, struck out 23 batters and pitched 11 straight innings of no-hit baseball.

While at Lyons, he coached the middle school football teams, and during his 27 years doing so, his teams delivered 10 undefeated seasons, including a 61game winning streak from 1976 through 1982. His cumulative football coaching record is 287 wins and 45 losses.

He was most well known for Partin Park in Lyons, and transforming it into a premier park for a small community. He started the Lyons Youth Tournament before he even had a park to play at with just eight teams in its first year in 1962, to making it into the largest youth tournament in Georgia. In his 54 years as the Recreation Director, Callaway's vision came to life, and he couldn't have been more proud in his later years as the director. Callaway wasn't the only one with a real vision for Lyons. He began working with other community minded men such as Harry Brown and Howard Sharpe, and Gould Mosley, who helped get together $15,000 that was used to help purchase the land in Lyons that became Partin Park.

Callaway's move to Lyons in 1961 launched his visionary and resourceful leadership as a park facilities designer and planner. He developed a bold vision for growing the recreation department from its beginning with 13 boys, three helmets, a catcher’s mitt, chest protector, and half a dozen used baseballs to its ultimate incarnation as a multi-venued and multi-sport complex in locations throughout Lyons and south Toombs County.

To get the land and


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to begin the decades long journey to develop Partin Park, Callaway and Mosley went to Mrs. J.B. Partin, and she told them that if they named the proposed park after her late husband that she would donate half of the 25 acres that they were trying to purchase. And that was how Partin Park was born. When it first opened in April of 1975, there were two ball fields, tennis courts, and a basketball court.

Callaway has taken it from those humble beginnings to what it is today; the park now bolsters five playing fields with covered bleachers, three concession stands, batting cages complex, skate park, walking trails, disc golf, eight playground areas, nine outdoor pavilions, and several rental buildings including the Callaway Center and one that personified his way of thinking, The Dream House.

The batting cages were named after John Adams who was a soil conservationist who helped Coach lay out the park and direct how things should best be planned.

It is also now home to the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby with the addition of a launch pad and storage building for the new Derby Hill. And that has become one of the largest local soap box races in the world. And it is also home to the Annual Real Squeal BBQ And Music Festival.

And fittingly the park is now called the Anson Callaway Complex at Partin Park to honor both men.

Partin Park opened in 1975, just in time for the Recreation Department’s explosive growth. As its footprint and amenities grew, the number of participants continued to grow, setting registration records year after year. At its peak, the Lyons Recreation Department has managed four different athletic complexes, offering youth recreational league and all-star programs for softball, tee ball, baseball, football, cheerleading, soccer, and basketball, as well as senior activities.

Through the years, Anson has been acknowledged for his contributions to youth sports and recreation, championship coaching, teaching, community service, and parks/recreation leadership. In 1977 he was named STAR Teacher for the Lyons Public School System. In 1991 he was named Lyons Citizen of the Year. The Georgia Recreation and Parks Association honored Callaway as GRPA Professional of the Year, and named Lyons as the GRPA State Agency of the Year.

Anson was the sole person selected from Lyons, Georgia, to carry/ run the Olympic Torch Relay in Toombs County in 1996. In 2016 Anson traveled to the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta to be honored by the State Senate for his leadership, mentoring, and stewardship in serving Georgia’s youth. In2023hewas recognized with the Annie R. Jackson Humanitarian Award for his service to the community.

Coach was reported to have never exhibited a ‘bad mood’, and his affirming and optimistic personality was genuine and unshakable, rooted in his profound gratitude for the opportunities his life afforded to love people and do good. This attitude was also rooted in his religion in which he spoke frequently about, including his 'Faith, Family, and then Games,' motto. He was asked often to deliver keynote speeches, civic presentations, and even eulogies, which he carefully prepared and lovingly delivered. His team speeches after losses were said to be even more inspiring than those following a win. He possessed nearflawless and total recall from decades of teaching, coaching, and serving, and could call thousands of people by name, and remember their details enough to encourage them – these traits were his relationship currency, and he offered it generously, with cleareyed honesty.

Coach's life motto was Dream Big, Work Hard, and Good Things Will Happen. He was a bold dreamer and courageous visionary, and never offered a vision without a strong plan for the work, commitment, and stewardship of resources to achieve its completion. He built teams through paying attention to people, their humanity, their strengths, their needs, and he called forth the best from them, ensuring their preparation, and then demonstrating his confidence in their effort. He invited others to share his vision, share the work, and share the satisfying joy of achievement. He was at his happiest when giving credit and shining light on the good work of others.

Anson and Virginia, who were married for 66 years, have been members of Lyons First Baptist Church for 60+ years, where he has served as an ordained deacon, Sunday School teacher, usher, and part-time Youth Director for five years. After his retirement at age 80, Callaway embraced the new concept of ‘hobbies’ and enjoyed fishing, the Boston Red Sox and Celtics, traveling with Ginny and his family, and hearing live gospel quartet music whenever possible.

Anson Stanley “Coach” Callaway, passed away on May 10, 2024. Coach Callaway was one of the most recognizable members of this community. He continued to come out to sporting events until his final days. The man always had a smile on his face, was always genuinely friendly with everyone that stopped him to say hello, and left his mark on thousands of people around the state. He truly was a 'larger than life' type of person whose impact will be forever etched on this community.

HEART FOR THE COMMUNITY – Since returning home to Toombs County, Anson has devoted many hours of work to his community, ensuring residents have a nice place for recreation and gatherings.

GROWING HIS FAMILY – Anson and his wife have two daughters, Kim and Cathy, who have since grown their own families. Here, he and his wife stand with their daughters and sons-in-law,. L to R: Kim George, Bobby George,Virginia Calloway, Anson Calloway, Mark Adams, and Cathy Adams.

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