Forever a part of the fabric of Cullman

Local leaders discuss Coach Page and his legacy

(Photo courtesy of Cullman High School)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Wednesday was a tough day for those closely associated with the Cullman City Council, but more importantly those who knew Coach Andy Page. 

Cullman mayor Woody Jacobs shared his thoughts on Coach Page as a “genuine man” who was fair. 

“Coach was a genuine man. Coach was fair. And, Coach was my friend. He was a believer first and foremost – devout in his faith. He treated every person he came in contact with with compassion, and he gave his undivided attention to everyone – letting you know that whatever you were going through or whatever problem you might have or whatever idea you wanted to pass along, he truly cared. It was real. So many people confided in Coach, and he never violated that trust.

I heard Bill Curry say one time, ‘Every teacher is not a coach, but every great coach is a teacher.’ Coach Page was just that. He was a teacher, from his younger days up through his later years. From growing up in a rural, small town in South Carolina, to his days as a coach, he knew life was tough and that the only way to succeed was to work with others, regardless of differences.”

He continued, “I use the term, teamwork religiously because Coach knew that the only way we were going to achieve great accomplishments was to put personalities aside and work together for a common goal–a better community. Coach was never too serious. He knew we only had a brief moment on this Earth, and he wanted to enjoy it and lift up those around him to do the same.”

Coach Page loved his wife, Liz, his children Jay and Susie and his grandchildren. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. The Council and myself know that Coach’s spot will have to be filled, but now is not the time to focus on that. Now is the time to reflect back on the life of a great man and leader, to thank God for the impact he allowed Coach to make in everyone’s life, and to grieve with the family. While we selfishly miss Coach, we know he is now home – his Earthly fight fought and his battle won. I am sure that he and Coach Dale Cook are sitting at a table somewhere, drinking coffee and talking football, all while he waits for his bride so that they may dance together once again,” Mayor Jacobs finished.

Many words of condolences were posted to multiple social media platforms Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, including this post from Cullman High School.

“CHS is saddened by the loss of Coach Andy Page. Coach Page has been an instrumental leader in Cullman City Schools and the City of Cullman. Coach impacted so many lives, in the classroom and on the football field for many years.  He has always been a positive influence and will be missed dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Page family.”

Page moved to Alabama from South Carolina in the late 1950s to attend college at Jacksonville State. After graduation, he was hired as a math instructor and football coach at Cherokee County High School. From there, he went to Cleveland High School, then Oneonta High School where he was an assistant football coach who helped lead his team to a state championship. 

Cullman City Council President Jenny Folsom remembers Coach Page as a true team player and one who was out to make the community he loved a better place for all. 

“Coach will be remembered for his philosophy that “teamwork” was the reason positive accomplishments or changes occurred.

From the day he was elected, Coach said the council was a team and it was our responsibility to work together and serve the people. The council valued his experience and opinion. Whenever we had an important or tough decision that did not require an immediate action, Andy would suggest we ‘sleep on it.’ He wanted us to reflect on the pros and cons to allow us to make the right decision.

He took great pride in his council position overseeing Public Safety (police and fire),” Folsom said.

A post from Cullman Fire and Rescue simply read, “We are so saddened by the loss of Coach Page. Coach Page always encouraged a team effort in protecting our community and his dedication to Public Safety and Cullman Fire Rescue will surely be missed.”

Folsom continued, “I will miss Coach as a friend and fellow council member. He loved Cullman and loved public service. His death is a loss for our community and he will be greatly missed.

Coach was serving his fourth term as a council member. Anytime he was asked if he planned to seek reelection he would reply ‘at least two more terms.’ That speaks volumes about how much he enjoyed public service.

I have served 14 years on the council with him and know he always wanted to do what was best for Cullman.

Coach Page loved sports and loved teaching. He taught and coached in the Cullman County School System, at Cullman High School and Cullman Middle School. He taught math at Wallace State College after he retired from the k-12 system. He was as proud of his math teaching career as he was of his coaching career.

He never met a stranger. He loved people and talking with people. His laugh was infectious. He was tremendously proud of his wife, Liz and the family they raised here. His sudden passing is a blow to all of us.”

Coach Page came to Cullman County in 1972 to coach at Fairview, then to Cullman in 1977, where he coached at the middle and high schools until his 1993 retirement. Following a brief stint in the hardware business, Page returned to teaching at Wallace State Community College, where he taught math for another eight years.

Page’s wife, son and daughter have all worked in education. His son Dr. Jay Page is the principal at West Elementary in Cullman.

CCS Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff shared the sentiments of many others by offering condolences to his family and friends. “We are all deeply saddened to hear about the passing of ‘Coach’ Andy Page. He was an instrumental part of Cullman City Schools for years as a coach and community leader,” Superintendent Kallhoff said. “He coached and inspired a generation of students at Cullman Middle School and Cullman High School for decades, instilling the virtues that will continue to carry our community forward. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire Cullman community that will forever miss him.”

Coach Page served on the Cullman City Council for over 13 years.

Rep. Garlan Gudger (former City Council President) said, “Coach Page was known to be a leader that brought people together. Either through his massive smile, dancing or by telling a joke. Coach Page couldn’t hide how much his heart loved life, his family, this community and the Bearcat Nation.”

He served under mayors Max Townson and Woody Jacobs, helping lead the city through the aftermath of the 2011 tornado, 2015 Christmas Day 100-year flood and 2018 hailstorm.  

Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry said, “Coach Page was a great supporter of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement.  I always enjoyed our time together and his friendship over the years. Coach Page will be missed. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Coach Pages family.”

CPD Chief Culpepper said Coach was “a true southern gentleman, with a coaches’ toughness to get it done right.”

He also helped draft the city’s current alcohol ordinance in 2011. During his tenure on the council the City of Cullman:

  • Received over $30 million in state and federal grants 
  • Secured a $14 million federal grant to complete the widening of State Road 157 
  • Grew its Strawberry Festival and Oktoberfest celebrations, while Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism brought in a National Archery Tournament and the 1A, 2A and 3A State Championship Track Meet
  • Built Cullman Fire Rescue Station Two
  • Expanded its industrial economic base

CPRST director Nathan Anderson also spoke on the legacy Coach has left behind, saying, “Coach Page meant so much to all who knew him. He loved his community so much which was evident in his many years of service. We were all blessed by his time dedication to Cullman, and we will truly miss him and the joy he would bring with his stories.”

During the 2020 council campaign, Page said, “I run for council for the children, my children, my grandchildren and those generations to try to make Cullman an even better place.”

Cullman City Councilman “Coach” Andy Page (contributed)

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