‘He was a giant to us’: Pike Co. Boys & Girls Club director dies
PIKE CO., Miss. (WLBT) - A man who devoted his life to children in Pike County has died.
Randy Tate suddenly died of natural causes on Monday at his home.
Tate was the first and only manager and chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Mississippi for over 30 years.
One of Tate’s friends and former club board members, Frederick Magee, said the sudden news sent shockwaves across Pike County.
“This is heartbreaking... I just left the club in McComb. The kids - the staff - everybody’s crushed.” Magee said. “He was a giant to us, like a president. He was our Barack Obama.”
Magee, also Tylertown’s Ward 4 alderman, said Tate didn’t just oversee the two Boys & Girls Clubs, but he’s responsible for starting up each after-school location.
“He found out how to bring the Boys and Girls Club here; then he spent years going through training, getting licensing and everything that was needed,” Magee said. “He started the one in McComb first, then later did the same thing in Tylertown.”
The two clubs in Southwest Mississippi are one of the thousands of clubs nationwide chartered by Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The voluntary organization prides itself on “changing and saving lives” for more than 160 years.
But in the small town of McComb, with a population of less than 13,000 and around 2,000 in Tylertown, Magee said Boys and Girls Clubs are a second home for many kids.
“It keeps our kids out of jail and off the streets, and they look forward to going to the club,” Magee said. “It’s not just an after-school program; it’s a family. We teach them how to carry themselves as young men and women, how to pursue their dreams, and we keep them motivated by rewarding them for their behavior and achievements.”
The club focuses on character and educational development, health and life skills, the arts, and fitness. It also places special emphasis on at-risk youth with alcohol and drug intervention programs.
Since opening in 1990, the Southwest Mississippi Boys and Girls Clubs have served more than 30,000 young people.
And this Thanksgiving, one of the young people from the club returned home.
“This is the place that made me, made who I am. Like, this is the reason why I’m in the NFL now,” Ward said.
Ward and volunteers from The Boys & Girls Club and McComb High School distributed turkeys and fresh produce to 290 families.
“I love my hometown, and I’m making a tradition from now on to give back every year. I mean, I just love my people, and I want to give back to them,” Ward said.
Unaware it would be his first and last time on camera, WLBT interviewed Randy Tate, who said the NFL player “grew up around the Club,” and he’s glad to see Ward give back and inspire other kids.
“I’m hoping it gives them an opportunity to also see that they could be the same way,” Tate said last week.
The club released a statement saying, “With utmost sorrow and profound sadness, we officially announce the demise of our company’s CEO, Mr. Randy Tate... one dedicated to the success of his club and the life of his club’s members.”
This week, counselors are on-hand to talk with children about Tate’s death and how to process it.
It’s a complicated reality even for adults to wrap their minds around, but Magee hopes the seeds Tate has planted will find a way to grow.
“This is a heartbreaking moment for us, but Randy trained the staff well; how to take his legacy and move it forward.”
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