Like all of Warren County, I was saddened to hear about the passing of radio legend Kelly Marlowe. I was fortunate enough to have many conversations with Kelly, almost all of them centered around sports. He also gave me a nickname that has stuck with me for 20 years.
Back in my playing days, I was teammates with Kelly's grandson, Ross Marlowe. We played on the freshman basketball team together and Kelly was always around, supporting the Pioneers with his endless positivity and distinct voice. One game, I was playing and my shoe came off during the action, so I threw it to the side and kept playing.
Before the game was over, I could hear Kelly yelling, "Shoeless Simmons." That was 23 years ago - and I promise you that the last time I saw Kelly, he still was calling me "Shoeless Simmons."
One of my favorite times I heard that nickname ring out was at Collins River Golf Course. I was playing one hole and didn't know Kelly was on the course on an adjacent hole, but I found out quickly he was around when I sent an errant shot flying in his direction. I yelled, 'Fore,' and he yelled back, "Is that Shoeless Simmons sending golf balls my way?" He let out a big laugh when I came to retrieve it and we got to talking about basketball, his family (I was roommates with his grandson my entire stay in Knoxville) and life.
That was Kelly's gift - he could talk to anybody for 10 seconds and it felt like he knew you for his whole life. He knew your family, he knew you and he made you feel like you knew him.
When I go on the radio, do podcasts or jump in to announce games, there's always a thought that crosses my mind: "How would Kelly Marlowe do this?" And I think it's a simple answer - with kindness, honesty and conviction.
Warren County lost a great man last week - one who never forgot to let me know when I lost a shoe.