[su_spacer size=”20″] A familiar and always welcome face has been missed at the Georgia football team’s spring practices. Robert “Bobby” Towns, a former UGA multi-sport letterman and a football official for more than 30 years, died in February at age 76.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The son of the late Forrest Grady “Spec” Towns, for whom Georgia’s track is named, Bobby was a two-way player on the football team in the late 1950s, as well as a hurdler, like his father, who won a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Bobby spent 30 years as a college football official in the SEC, also working the national championship games in 1985 and 1986.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Once Mark Richt took over as Georgia’s football coach 14 years ago, Bobby was part of a small group of officials at most of the Bulldogs’ practices. The officials were brought in to monitor practices as they would games, flagging the Dogs in practice for mistakes so hopefully the yellow won’t fly on Saturdays.
[su_spacer size=”40″] For many years Bobby worked with Bill Yarbrough, Paul Yarbrough, Bill Ashley, Will Jones, Jim Blose, Bill Palmer and Ron Stein. The gentlemen are honoring their late friend and colleague this spring by wearing a small black patch with “BT” embroidered in white letters.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “Bobby was a leader for a long time as far as helping us secure officiating during practice, which is so crucial,” Richt said. “So it’s neat to see the officials honoring him in that way. Bobby was a great husband, a great father, a great Bulldog. And he really blessed us by being a great official as well.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Bill Yarbrough has one of the patches inside a glass case, resting on the familiar black and white stripes of an official’s shirt. He said Bobby’s widow, Mary, and their children will receive receive one.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The small plaque inside the case reads: “Worn by UGA Football Practice Officials. In Memory of Bobby Towns, (HMFIC). Our Friend, Our Mentor. We will miss him.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] The initials “HMFIC” stand for, at least in the PG version: Head Military Figure In Charge. Towns retired from the army as a colonel and also had a long career with AFLAC.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “We just thought that would be something we needed to do,” Bill Yarbrough said, “and all the people we talked to about it thought it was a great idea.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] Bobby, Bill Yarbrough and Jim Blose worked Georgia’s practices from the time Richt began using them.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “Before that, Bobby was a good mentor to me, while he was in the SEC and I was learning (to officiate) high school ball,” said Yarbrough, who has been officiating for 30 years. “It’s a big loss for us because he was the one that was the contact person, getting us there on time and keeping us up on changes within the NCAA rules, as compared to high school.
[su_spacer size=”40″] “He was just a great person all the way around.”
[su_spacer size=”40″] The Bulldogs’ G-Day Game is at 2 p.m. Saturday, at Sanford Stadium. Admission is free and fans are encouraged to bring canned goods for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. Donations will be accepted at gates 2, 4, 6 and 9.