Archived Story

‘Doc’ leaves legacy

Published 9:12am Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Dr. Bob Sittason passed from this life on April 9, he left a legacy characterized by a passion for athletics, a helping hand for those in need and a lifetime of support and service to his community.

Ironically, “Doc” died the same day funeral services were conducted for Coach J.P. Cain, a close friend of many years. Both were victims of cancer.

Anybody who has been a Hartselle Tigers sports fan for the past 50 to 60 years knows that “Doc” ranked at the top. He was a charter member of the Hartselle Athletic Booster Club and played a major role in the planning and funding process that led to the construction of the J.P. Cain Football Stadium.

Behind the scenes, his eyes and ears were always open to the needs of young athletes down on their luck and he was always there to pick them up. His generosity toward those in need and his lifelong staunch support of youth and high school athletics led to his induction in the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame. He was serving as a member of the Hall of Fame board of directions when he died.

One of the athletes he befriended was Charles “Boonie” Russell, who gained fame as a member of one of Hartselle High’s two state basketball championship teams and went on to play at The University of Alabama.

“He changed my life,” Russell said when asked to comment about his relationship with “Doc”, as Russell called Sittason.

“I met him when I was a youngster playing baseball,” he recalled. “I didn’t care about going to school or much of anything else. He told me flat out, ‘Boonie, you need to be doing something else. You need to get in school and be a good example for other kids.’

“Fortunately, I heeded “Doc’s” advice,” Russell added. “I went to Morgan County High School and was successful at basketball and in the classroom. I got a scholarship to a junior college and was successful there and then I moved up to The University of Alabama where I was also successful. I owe him for my success.

“It wasn’t important to him for other people to know what he did for others. He did it from his heart.”

“I went by and visited “Doc” a few days ago. The last thing he said to me was, ‘Boonie, I’ve got tickets for the Sports Hall of Fame Banquet. Now, you be ready to go!’”

“Doc” was also a big bream fisherman and was ready to go far and wide to wet a hook when a fishing buddy called.

Charlie Jones was a fishing buddy of “Doc’s” from their boyhood days in Decatur. They’d hit the backwaters of the Tennessee River in their boat with hook, line and sinker regardless of the weather.

The story is told of them fishing in Flint Creek backwater on a cold winter day even after sleet and snow had covered the ground.

One of “Doc’s” friends later mentioned driving by on that day and seeing two fishermen hunkered down in their boat fishing.

“Can you imagine two fools fishing in that kind of weather?” “Doc” was asked.

“Yes, I can,” he replied. “I was one of them.”

Jones said he and “Doc” fished a lot together and became lifelong friends.

“He was the kind of person who always put the other fellow first,” Jones pointed out. “Anytime we went fishing, he’d always make sure my pickup truck was gassed up and we had all of the provisions we needed. He was a very generous man and a dear friend of mine.”

“Doc” was also someone who believed deeply in giving back to the community. He was a 55-year member and past president of Hartselle Rotary Club and a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was an active member of First United Methodist Church, a strong supporter of Boys and Girls Clubs and a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

“Doc’s” funeral was at First United Methodist Church on April 12. He is survived by his wife, three sons, two stepsons, a stepdaughter and their families.

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