Forsyth mourned the loss of one of its most beloved citizens last week.
Mary Lynda Stevenson Pitts, the wife of longtime Mary Persons football coach Dan Pitts, died on Tuesday, July 2, nine days after suffering a stroke and being life-flighted to Atlanta’s Emory Hospital.
Pitts grew up in Lincoln County, Georgia before moving to Forsyth in 1959 when her husband was named head coach at Mary Persons. Pitts worked for the Monroe County Extension Service before serving as an assistant to the Honorable Judge Hugh D. Sosebee Sr. until his retirement. Pitts then began a long career with State Farm, becoming a licensed insurance agent.
Hundreds of Monroe Countians attended Pitts’ funeral at First Baptist Church on Friday during which her grandson Kip Burdette, who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps as a coach at Mary Persons, gave a memorable eulogy. Burdette recounted the things he best remembered about his grandmother, including her delicious peach ice cream, the time she out sprinted him down the sideline to the end zone when he scored his first youth league touchdown and the empathy and love she showed for others. Burdette also described how his grandmother, who never missed an MP football game, would put her head in her hands in agony every time the center snapped the ball.
Pitts’ daughter Carolann Evans said, “Mama never saw a play while Daddy was coaching.”
Evans said when her father, who went on to become the winningest football coach in Georgia high school history at the time of his retirement, was early in his coaching career, wins were sometimes harder to come by. Evans said her parents made a pact in the early 1960s that her father would focus on coaching football and her mother would take care of everything else behind the scenes. That dynamic worked to the tune of 346 career wins and a successful family. But when Pitts finally hung up his whistle in 1997, things changed.
“It was all about Mama when Daddy retired,” Evans said.
Evans said the thing that has been most evident in the week since her mother’s passing was the love that Pitts had for others and the love that family and friends had for her. She said it was truly fitting that Pitts spent the final full weekend of her life last month attending a family reunion. Then, the weekend that she got sick, she spent Friday night at a birthday party for recently-retired banker Joe Evans and Saturday night at a banquet to honor the inductees of the Forsyth-Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame.
Evans said, “As much as she loved people it was a real blessing that she got to see everybody.”
Pitts, who celebrated her 62nd wedding anniversary in May, was 83. See her obituary on page 6A.