Following the article regarding the true story of the Fuquay-Varina High School Spirit Rock, the next question became, “Who was Red Seagroves?” The museums staff took some time on Monday to find what we had in our archives. There may be an article in the Independent newspaper files which we will eventually locate but to date we are able to provide this brief introduction to those citizens who did not know “Red.”
George Earnshaw “Red” Seagroves was born June 15, 1931 into the family of Junnie Caradale Seagroves & Gertrude Baker Seagroves. The baby of the family, he joined sister, Margaret Seagroves (Hall) who served in the Post Office of Varina many years and two other sisters, Ethelene Seagroves (Wedding) and Leigh “Lee” Seagroves (Wilson). Two older brothers, Junnie C. Seagroves, Jr. and Thomas Edison Seagroves welcomed him into the boys tier of siblings.
The Greenbrier Yearbooks of 1948 and 1949 reveal that he graduated from Fuquay Springs High School in the class of 1949. Surprisingly his yearbook name was listed as Earnshaw Seagroves. Equally, surprising was the fact that he was not included in any of the athletic team photos even though he was so interested in sports. Watson Adcock and Mickey Smith remember that J. C., Red and Tom played sand lot baseball with the Fuquay team in the late 1940’s. They knew him as “RED” a nickname attached because of his hair color. Red was pictured in the Future Farmer’s of America under Fred Hunt during high school but was not listed in any high school sport.
The three Seagroves brothers served in the United States Army. Pvt. Tom Seagroves, Sgt. Junie C. Seagroves and Pvt. George E. Seagroves are all buried with military markers in Wake Chapel Memorial Cemetery. Red was a veteran of the Korean War and was active in the local American Legion Post 116. Neither of the three men ever married.
Following the Korean engagement, George E. Seagroves returned to live on Durham Street and work with the State of North Carolina as a data processing supervisor. Tim Carroll recalls this entire family of neighbors and provided some photographs. No member of the immediate family has descendants although there may be some cousins.
Red became the Voice of the Bengal Tigers, serving as public address announcer for the entire sports program for a total of years we are trying to establish. Mickey Smith and Watson Adcock know there was no announcer in the early 1950’s. They remember that Red’s brother, Tom, wrote a column for the Independent which we have verified as early as 1947 and 1949. Coaches Perry and Jones are listed but no mention is made of a press booth in game reports from Fleming Field.
Graham Myrick thinks Red might have begun announcing about 1964 when Myrick came as coach. Max Ashworth, who pulled the chains, says he believes Red was working in the booth at the Fleming Field site. Known to have worked with yards, downs, etc. were Kenneth Hair and Garlon Stuart. Stuart thinks the press box was built about 1960-61. Unfortunately, no one can say definitively when Red came onto that scene.
Everyone knows Red worked at the Bengal Blvd School press box in 1976 and thereafter. His colorful description and deep baritone voice remained the play calling feature of every home game at least through the 1991 season. Boys participating in American Legion Baseball enjoyed his support and announcing as well for many of those years.
The Student Council paid tribute to his long service with the dedication of the FVHS Spirit Rock to this special hero. Graham Myrick, football coach, and John Enloe, band director, worked with the students to recognize “Red” at halftime. A special athletic jacket embroidered with “Red” and a scrapbook of pictures were presented on “Red” Seagroves Day, Nov. 8, 1991. Mayor Alfred Johnson proclaimed the day in his honor throughout Fuquay-Varina. Red was surprised and maybe speechless for a moment.
On April 24, 2003, Red’s funeral service was held at Wake Chapel Christian Church. David Brown and Pastor Ross Marion conducted the celebration of his life. . Dr. A. N. Johnson gave a special tribute. Pall bearers were Dr. Johnson, Kelly Stephenson, Gordon Stephenson, Billy Tew, L. V. Pegram and Tim Afthaus.
To this day, no voice has come along with the depth and dedication to Fuquay-Varina Sports to match that demonstrated by Red Seagroves. His was a labor of love for his town and for the youth of Fuquay-Varina. Hopefully, Fuquay High School’s Spirit Rock can forever honor this special man on the campus while it mobilizes school spirit among future students.