FHS honors volunteers with combined 112 years of service

By JAMES PHILLIPS,

Forest High School honored three of the Bearcats Football volunteers during half time of the annual Battle for the Golden Chicken which pits rivals Forest versus Morton. Ronnie Fortinberry, John Allen Robby and Tommy Lee have volunteered during Forest football games for decades, and the administration at FHS paid honor to these men on November 1.

FHS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, Alan Atkison said that the three men have given countless hours of their time volunteering for the Bearcats football program, and it was an honor  to recognize their service.

Tommy Lee is simply known as “The Voice of the Bearcats.” Lee has been a mainstay calling Friday night home games as the Public Address announcer for more than 50 years.

Lee is a 1961 graduate of FHS and said Bearcats Football has been a family tradition as far back as he can remember. “Bearcat football has been a tradition in my family for 70 years,” Lee said. “To me Bearcat Pride shows unity with the school and entire community and I have been honored to be a part of this.”

During each home football game, Lee calls the game from the press box that carries his name. The Thomas D. Lee Press Box at L.O. Atkins Field honors the service and support of both Tommy, and his family during the last seven decades.

John Allen Robbie, is a 1961 FHS graduate and has served in one capacity or another at every home football game for the last 35 years. Robbie started out on the sideline chain gang, but recently moved to the press box as the scoreboard operator.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to keep in touch with the players and young people in our community, Robbie said. “I have enjoyed every minute of my time with the Bearcat football program.”

Ronnie Fortinberry is a 1963 FHS graduate and serves as the sideline “spotter” for the team on the sideline and in the press box. Atkison said, “Ronnie has assisted the public address announcer in the press box by being the eyes on the field, seeking out the details of the game action like jersey numbers and ball placement for 27 years.”

“To me Bearcat Pride means family and tradition,” Fortinberry said. “I’m thankful for the excellent school administration and teachers, the outstanding facilities and the opportunity to gain an outstanding education here in Forest School System. Bearcat Pride means paying it forward and giving back to those who gave so much in molding your life.”

Atkison said these three men have made a lasting impact as part of the Bearcats football program. “Our community, Forest High School and the Bearcats Football Program are truly blessed by these three men. Through their willingness to contribute their time and serve others, we have been fortunate to have their unwavering support for decades.”