Blast from the Past: Brother Bobby Stout

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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By C.Y. Peters
      Bobby Stout was born to Godly parents Ed & Maggie Stout, on January 17, 1944, in Avery County, North Carolina. He and his family moved to Hampton from Avery County in 1945 when Bobby was one year old. He attended Hampton High School, where he played basketball for the winningest basketball coach in Tennessee history, Walter “Buck” VanHuss. “Coach,” as we’ve heard Bob affectionately call him many times, had a positive impact on Bob’s life and became his “father figure” after his father’s death.
Bobby played on the 1960 State Championship Basketball team for Hampton and was selected Mr. Hampton High School and Best All-Around by his graduating class of 1962.  Bobby was saved as a junior in high school at a baptismal service by a pond in 1961. Upon graduating from high school, Bob went to work at Beaunet Fibers. He met Janice Potter in high school and they were married on July 26, 1962.
     On August 23, 1966, at an old fashion camp meeting being held by Brother Curtis McCarley in Nebo, North Carolina,  Bobby was called into the ministry.   Bobby says “that this was the greatest day of his life.” The sermon Brother McCarley preached was “The 10 Gates of Nehemiah”.
Bobby preached his very first sermon at Victory Baptist Church in Roan Mountain on September 4, 1968. Bobby preached his first message at Pleasant Beach on September 8th, 1968.  Bobby was elected pastor at Pleasant Beach Baptist on March 30, 1969.
When he began at Pleasant Beach, there were approximately 60 members. The membership grew to well over 1,000 members on roll, with an average attendance of over 300 every Sunday morning.
     Bobby’s family has always been very important to him. He and Jan have been blessed with three children, Tawana Holland and her husband Gordon, Ladonna Boone and her husband Steve, and Bobby Jr. and his wife Mandy. They also have five beautiful grandchildren, Israel and Emory Boone, Audrey Holland, and Charlie & Jake Stout. Record attendance marks for the church during Brother Bob’s ministry are 502 on May 27, 1973, and on May 10, 1987, the most ever was 694.
Community leaders have recognized Bobby over the years. In October of 2006, the County Commission presented a proclamation that the last Sunday in October is designated as Pastor Bob Stout Sunday. The City Council of Elizabethton presented Brother Bob with a proclamation commending him on his years of service to the community and proclaiming May 16, 2009, Pastor Bobby Stout and Janice Stout Day. The War Memorial presented Brother Bob with a plaque recognizing him for his help with the War Memorial and his participation in various ceremonies that have been held for our military.
     “Playing for Coach Van Huss was the good ole days,” Bobby said. “If it hadn’t been for sports and coach Van Huss I don’t know where we would have wound up. Buck gave me an old basketball with a knot on the side. I had taken a five-gallon bucket, cut the bottom out of it, and nailed it on the old woodshed for a goal. That was where I learned to shoot a basketball. They called us the Little Men from the Mountain.”
         “When in Nashville, every day we ate at the S&K Restaurant and that is where they had the trophies for the state tournament. Each day after the game, we would pick out the one we were going to get with each win. Coach Van Huss gave each of us a dime before we ate and it was for a tip. We didn’t know what a tip was, but we had this server who took our trays and carried them to our tables from the cafeteria line. The things Coach taught us, we never knew about tipping.” Bobby would get another chance in the state tournament in 1962. Hampton played in the 1962 state tournament losing in six overtimes 46-44 to Knoxville East.  They won the first game over Summertown 57-48.  Jerry White scored 26 points in that game and 19 in the loss.
     “We were going to Science Hill to play a scrimmage game. We went by to pick up Bill Wilkins, who became a coach later at Science Hill.   We were going to scrimmage in their new gym. As we were driving alone, Coach Van Huss and Bill were in the front seat and I was in the back. As we drove on the way, we were near Happy Valley School when Bill said, “Coach, what does it take to make a good basketball player.” I leaned in close from the back seat because I wanted to hear this. Coach Van Huss said, “Bill, only one thing makes a great ball player, “Desire,” a boy has got to want to play; he has just got to want to.” I learned that day that you have to want to. Yea, that day, I learned a lot.
  Bobby added, “I was out of high school two years before I found out that those spots on my face weren’t freckles. I had played for coach Van Huss and he chewed Beechnut chewing tobacco. Well, you know what happens when you get close to someone who is talking while chewing tobacco. Elizabethton pastor, Rev. Bobby G. Stout, made history by being the first person to give the prayer before the Tennessee State Senate through a pre-recorded video.  His life in service to our Lord has been a blessing to us all,” said Senator Rusty Crowe. “We in the Tennessee Senate are proud of his wonderful and long-standing legacy. He is indeed a great Tennessean.”

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