Arbutus 'Mayor' knows no quit Legend: George Kendrick, 74, is in his 55th season as coach of the Golden Eagles.

August 23, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

The two coaches were driving back from Lynchburg, Va., after a football game when Marvin March reminded George Kendrick of something he had said a few years before.

"You said you'd retire after the Arbutus Athletic Association's 70th year," assistant coach March said to head coach Kendrick. "Now it's the 70th, so how much longer?"

Kendrick, in his 55th year with the Arbutus Golden Eagles, looked at his assistant and smiled.

"I'm thinking about shooting for the year 2000," Kendrick said.

A pillar in the community for more than a half-century, Kendrick, 74, is known, according to Paul Wagner, a neighbor and AAA member, as the "Mayor of Arbutus."

You name it and the retired Westinghouse accountant is involved in it -- from organizing the 10-kilometer Firecracker road race on July 4 to umpiring softball games to running basketball leagues to serving as treasurer of the Arbutus Recreation and Parks Council.

"Other than that, I don't do a thing," Kendrick said dryly. "I've always done this. I love people."

His prime activity is football. The AAA was only in its 17th year when a 19-year-old quarterback named George Kendrick quarterbacked the Golden Eagles in 1942.

After two years in the Army, Kendrick came back as unlimited team coach, which he has been ever since. Three years ago, he was inducted into the Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame in Orlando, Fla.

Until the late 1930s, the AAA had only an unlimited team, with 20 players, but the program has grown to six teams in age groups from 6-8 through unlimited. More than 175 boys and young men participate, plus 125 girls as cheerleaders.

Some original members from 1926 are still around. Kendrick ran into one the other day, Charles Dehne, 85, of Severna Park.

"I was big for my age, so I played for the unlimited team when I was 14," Dehne said.

In 1966, Marvin and Fred March began playing for Kendrick and have been with him ever since, as assistant coaches. Marvin March, 44, gets emotional when he talks about Kendrick.

"I was 13 and going out for another football program," March said. "I was big for my size and had to lose major weight to play in the 13-15 age group. The day of the weigh-in, I was four pounds over.

"The coaches were mad at me and I was running up the steps trying to lose weight, crying. George came up and put his arm around me and said I could play for his team."

One day, Kendrick took the March boys to Mount St. Joseph for a visit. Two weeks later, he had arranged for them to receive full scholarships.

"If I needed George, he was there," March said, his voice choked with emotion. "He means as much to me as my father. After 21 years, I'm as committed to him as he was to me."

Which is one reason Kendrick may not retire as a coach even though he would like to.

Kendrick has four children of his own, two of whom -- Larry, 51, and Ross, 38 -- played for him, plus 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Ross coaches the 7-9 age group team, including his son Chad.

"The Arbutus AA is like one big family," Kendrick said, noting that 80 percent of the coaches once played for him. "It's like a religion -- Saturday in Arbutus is football day. Two to three thousand people come to the Arbutus Middle School field and watch games all day, from 7-9 to unlimited."

The unlimited Golden Eagles play in the Mason-Dixon League, with a 10-game schedule stretching from mid-August through the end of October. The current Mason-Dixon has teams from Dover, Del., to Richmond, but Kendrick says that over the years he has taken the Golden Eagles as far as Nebraska, Massachusetts and South Carolina.

No one gets paid, and the players cover their own travel expenses. Kendrick, ever the accountant, has ledgers and scrapbooks documenting that in 1952, for example, the program finished $2.97 in the hole after income of $586.03 and expenses of $589.00.

Today, the AAA has a budget of $20,000 a year. Money is raised through a $40 per player registration fee, selling chances, conducting fudge and cheesecake sales, peddling hot dogs at games and staging an annual dance.

"Through the 1960s, the kids paid 25 cents a week in dues, and the coaches had to collect it," Kendrick said.

He liked that idea, because it taught the youngsters discipline. -- To his regret, the association doesn't do that anymore.

Pub Date: 8/23/96

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