A celebration of the life of Dick Bestwick (Tar Heel Letterman 1949-51) will be held Friday Nov. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the College Football Hall of Fame at 250 Marietta St. NW in Atlanta.
Bestwick died in January and given that he asked that no obituary or death notice be distributed, many of those he touched in a long coaching life never learned of his passing. Bestwick was 87 when he died Jan. 4 in Athens, Georgia. Since 2003, he had been suffering from transverse myelitis, a debilitating inflammation of the spinal cord.
“It constantly feels that I'm so tight that I'm going to split open,” said Bestwick prior to a 2007 reunion of his former UVa players. “It feels like I'm an experiencing an electric shock when I walk. I deal with pain 24-7.”
The occasion is being organized by Gary Stokan, the executive director of the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and a long-time friend and mentee of Bestwick's.
"As Dick is from Pittsburgh like me and we have been known to be hard headed (in a positive way), I have decided that we will honor Dick in a humble way at the appropriate place of the College Football Hall of Fame,” Stokan wrote in an email to those who knew Bestwick. “Virginia plays Georgia Tech the next day in Atlanta. We will have food and drink and hopefully those that he meant something to will attend and tell stories to celebrate Dick's life.”
Bestwick played for Carolina at the tail end of the Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice era. He was a long-time assistant coach at Georgia Tech and later head coach at Virginia. Bestwick, who was 16-49-1 over six seasons coaching the Cavaliers (1975-1981), was replaced by George Welsh in 1981.
“Dick did a good job here,” said Gene Corrigan, the Virginia athletic director who hired him. “I really liked him. Good guy, good guy. It was a difficult time. Virginia was going from the No. 1 party school in the country to trying to become the No. 1 public institution. That's a big change.”
Dave Braine followed Bestwick out of Pennsylvania, at the time in the 1950s a hotbed for Carolina recruiting, to Chapel Hill. Braine lettered from 1962-64 and later was athletic director at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
“He was a true, true players' coach,” Braine said. “He also put the players first in anything that he did. Basically, every decision he made, he made in their best interest. I can't tell you the number of players I played with who mostly went to small state colleges in Pennsylvania and ended up becoming high school coaches because of him.”For more information, contact Lexi Edsall at the College Football Hall of Fame at firstname.lastname@example.org.