Trace set the standard for all aspiring coaches to follow in that he had the innate ability to teach kids the finer points of sports, yet at the same time have fun. He did this relentlessly and it was always heartwarming watching him talk to a youngster on the sidelines. One did not need to know what was said as the beaming smile on the kid's face said it all as he trotted back to his position.
His legacy for the community will be his genuine concern for our children, especially those who he so skillfully redirected away from the path of potential harmful activities, and that he taught, gave and laughed with young people who learned, grew and were supported and inspired to reach their greatest potential -- with sports as the great instrument of his work.
There are many such stories of his going above and beyond the call of duty to help a kid in need. In fact, I was literally deluged with phone calls by parents and players who wanted to share their experiences with him. There simply could not be enough space created in the newspaper to recount all of them.
Trace was the owner of Handy Concrete for many years. He was recently hired full-time by Jostens, but his insurance benefits had not yet taken effect when he became ill.
He is survived by his mother, Charlene Hammond Taylor; wife Barbara Ann Ogles Handy; three stepsons, Josh, Daniel and Andrew Brandon; and two brothers, James Bradley Handy and Terrance Benton Handy.
Tragically, he and his immediate family were one of thousands of victims of the recent economic crisis facing our country. Trace's passing creates an enormous strain on Barbara, who is disabled and in the process of obtaining disability benefits. In the interim, they have no income. The family is in dire need of immediate financial assistance.
A fundraiser will be held for the family on Jan. 24 at the Bedford County Agriculture Center on Midland Road. A chili supper will start at 3 p.m. and a silent auction 3-6 p.m., followed by a conventional auction 6-8 p.m. Individuals or businesses wishing to donate items to be auctioned at the event, or wanting to volunteer to help with the activities, should call organizers Chris Thomas, 703-6946; Chuck Glover, 580-3306, or Mike Wilson, 205-7103.
An account has been set up at Peoples Bank, North Main Street, for those who would like to contribute directly. Payments may be made to the Trace Handy Benefit Fund.
We must try to not allow this tragedy -- a tragedy that could just as well have struck any one of us -- to slow our pace or end Trace's purpose. We must, as so many who knew him well have said, gather inspiration and continue a good man's honorable work using whatever talents we can share with those around us, on and off the playing field.
It is unbelievable that time will ever ease the pain of Trace's passing, but we can take solace in watching his legacy live on in his family, his friends and the youths whose lives he touched so profoundly. We are blessed to have had the privilege of being a part of his life, albeit for far too short a time.
For that, we are eternally grateful. His sudden passing is a shock to us all, but our memory of him as a coach, mentor and friend will always remain with us.
Godspeed, coach Handy. Rest in peace until we meet again.
Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.