Fans say farewell to beloved Coach at 'Original' Lincoln High

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 20, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee is mourning the loss of longtime football coach James "Billy" Oliver.

Oliver coached the Fighting Tigers football team at the original Lincoln High School back in the days of segregation in the 1950's and 1960's.

Oliver joined in singing the school's alma mater back in March 2019, as a plaque was unveiled at Gene Cox Stadium to honor him and others for decades of coaching.

Some of his former players gathered in front of the original Lincoln High Monday to remember him.

"He was a good coach," said Wilbur Johnson, who graduated in 1964.
"I was a 160 pound offensive lineman so he would stay on my case a lot, but he made you build character, he made you get in there and work for whatever you got, made you do things to build confidence in you. He was a confidence builder."

"I always think of him as possessing characteristics that a man should have," Clarence Rivers said, "To be able to stand there and look you straight in the eyes, say exactly what he has to say to you. I couldn't do that when I first came to Lincoln High school but when I left, i could."

"A lot of us didn't have a father in the home and so we got that male figure from him," Sam Graham said. "He was an everyday kind of person. I miss him. I miss him. I really do."

"He stayed with us just like a father figure, so I'm still inspired about him," Al Washington said.

Oliver was a World War II veteran and a FAMU alum.

He was 95 years old.

Graveside services are set for Tuesday.