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Old Sat Jul 08, 2006, 08:45pm
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Charlie Bloodworth Obit. article

Charlie Bloodworth, 78, referee for SEC, trainer of officials

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/07/06

Charlie Bloodworth gave up a potential baseball career to become the man every basketball fan loves to hate the referee.

He inspired countless others to enter the profession.

A scout for the Atlanta Crackers signed Mr. Bloodworth, an outfielder, to a contract for its farm team, the Waycross Bears. Mr. Bloodworth stayed with them three years, then decided to call it quits and start a family.

In 1951, the Decatur native married Dent Richards Bloodworth and looked for a job in a sports-related field. He found it as a salesman at DeKalb Sporting Goods, a position he held for 20 years.

Meanwhile, he tried his hand at officiating high school basketball. Soon he was working at the college level. In 1960, he became a referee for the Southeastern Conference.

"Dad was good at it because he was a natural athlete who moved up and down the court so well," said his daughter, Celia Allen of Meridian, Miss., an assistant coach of women's basketball at Meridian Community College.

"Plus, he understood people. He said he couldn't worry about the fans because every call you made would upset one side. If coaches fussed about his call, he'd say, 'I hear you' and walk away. He didn't make you feel bad, but he made you feel like he knew what he was doing."

William Charles Bloodworth, 78, of McDonough, formerly of Decatur, died Wednesday of cancer at Southern Regional Hospital. The funeral is 2 p.m. Saturday at The Rock Baptist Church in Rex. Horis A. Ward, Fairview Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

Travel took him away from his family so much these were times when officials drove to the games that in the 1970s Mr. Bloodworth phased out refereeing to become an observer and trainer. He was supervisor of basketball officials for the Sun Belt Conference for 11 years and for the Peach Belt Conference for eight years. He observed and critiqued officials for both the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Perhaps Mr. Bloodworth's enduring legacy is being a mentor to young officials. He founded the Georgia College Officials Basketball Association in 1959 and served as its commissioner for 21 years. For another 21 years, he was a partner with the Nationwide Referee Camp training other basketball referees.

"Charlie was the big reason I am in this profession," said J.B. Caldwell of DeLand, Fla., an SEC basketball official who runs his own basketball officials camp. "He had a heart the size of Georgia. He would always try to frame his criticism as a positive, to help you learn from your mistakes."

One official's comment about Mr. Bloodworth has stuck with SEC basketball official Kyle Chambers of Gadsden, Ala. "I remember one official who told me, 'Charlie Bloodworth is a great guy, but he can't say anything bad about anybody,' " he said.

Mr. Bloodworth's influence will be felt for years, said Gerald Boudreaux of Lafayette, La., coordinator of men's basketball officials for the SEC, a referee at five Final Fours and winner of the 2000 Naismith Award for top basketball official in the country an annual award Mr. Bloodworth helped establish and coordinate.

In 1996 the Atlanta Tipoff Club honored Mr. Bloodworth with its annual Steve Schmidt Award for outstanding contributions to Georgia basketball.

In other sports, he was a good enough golfer to shoot two holes-in-one: at the eighth hole of the Bobby Jones Golf Course and the 17th hole at Druid Hills Country Club.

But his real contribution to the golf world was as a volunteer for charity events. He volunteered at two or three golf tournaments a year, his daughter said, including 30 years with the Atlanta Classic Tournament (now the BellSouth Classic), which has raised millions of dollars for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Survivors include his wife; two other daughters, Donna Webber and Linda Cunningham, both of McDonough; a sister, Agnes Side of Lilburn; and five grandchildren.
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