Stan Black, who was a football All-American at Mississippi State, was killed in a roadside vehicle accident Aug. 24 north of Canton. He was 62. Black, who was from Columbus and later moved to Madison, was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety for the Bulldogs. Photo by: Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations
September 2, 2018 1:17:38 AM
Football was only part of Stan Black's life.
While being an All-American at Mississippi State and going on to play professional football in the NFL earned Black fame throughout the nation, those who knew the former Columbus resident remember him as a "humble" man who never allowed his athletic accomplishments to change his personality.
"He was a guy who touched so many peoples lives," said Don West, who grew up with and played sports with Black and then went on to attend MSU with him. "He was a friend no matter who you were in school. I think that is what made him so special to so many people."
West's memories about Black were part of the remembrances people shared with The Dispatch this week following the death of the former MSU All-American in a roadside vehicle accident Aug. 24 north of Canton. He was 62.
Black, who was from Columbus and later moved to Madison, was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety and an All-American at MSU in 1976. He was killed after he stopped to help the driver of a SUV that was hauling sheet rock on the back of a trailer. Black exited his vehicle to help collect some of the sheet rock that had fallen onto the interstate, but he was killed when another vehicle slammed into the trailer, Black, and the passenger of the SUV.
Joe Black, Stan's cousin who lives in Water Valley, said Stan was known for stopping to help people in the Jackson area. In fact, he didn't remember a time when Stan stopped to check on him and his family until earlier this week when his wife reminded him.
Joe Black said the meeting took place 15-20 years ago when he was coming back from taking his oldest daughter to see an eye specialist in Jackson. He said his daughter wasn't feeling good and he pulled to the side of the road to see if she was going to be sick. He said someone in a Bulldog Construction Company truck stopped to check on them. When the man exited the vehicle, Joe Black said he immediately recognized Stan.
"He was just a good guy," Joe Black said. "He was an all-around good guy who always considered other people. It was just something he had to do to help other people out."
Dale Lancaster was a year ahead of Stan in school and knew him for many years, first in Columbus and then in Madison before he moved to Maine. He offered two stories of Stan to describe his personality. The first involved a time when he went to a bar wearing an Ole Miss shirt. He said several people started hassling him before Stan came over and told them to leave Dale alone because he was his friend.
Lancaster's other story came later in life when his family and Stan's lived in Madison. One Christmas Eve, Lancaster said he had a stomach virus and couldn't put together a trampoline he and his wife had purchased as a gift. It didn't take long for Stan to show up and help his wife, Ida, put it together.
Lancaster said those stories show the character of a man who only weighed 120 pounds early in his high school career before he hit the growth spurt that ultimately helped him become an All-American.
"He wasn't a star always," Lancaster said. "He got to be really tall and really fast, and he worked really hard at Mississippi State. All of us were fairly surprised he attained what he did when he got to Mississippi State. That was a tribute to his hard work."
David Waters also grew up with Stan in Columbus. He, too, had plenty of stories that involved Black outside of football. One involved a party at a country club both attended following their graduation from Heritage Academy. The next morning, Waters said his father woke him up to tell him someone from the country club called to inform him the club's wrought iron furniture was at the bottom of the deep end of the pool and that they wanted it out immediately. Waters said he rode by Black's house and told his mother he needed him.
"We went and dove down and struggled to lift that furniture up and we got it all out together," Waters said. "He was a good athlete and all, but Stan was a better friend. If you asked him for any help or needed somebody, Stan was always there to help."
When asked why he thought Black didn't change after his athletic accomplishments, Waters said Black stayed "grounded" and knew his roots.
"Call it humble or caring or being raised from that environment, but he knew where he came from and he cared about people," Waters said.
Joe Black said Stan was that kind of person from when he lived in Greenville and his parents worked as civilian employees at the Greenville Air Force Base to when his family transferred to Columbus up to the time he lived in Madison.
"Stan was not a pushover. He took care of business, but he did it in a very positive way and in everything he did," Joe Black said.
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Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.