Memphis, TN-On December 12, 1983, Memphis State head football coach Rex Dockery, his offensive coordinator Chris Faros, Tiger freshman defensive back Charles Greenhill and pilot/Highland Hundred member Glenn Jones lost their lives in a plane crash in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. The four were en-route to the Lawrenceburg Quarterback Club season ending luncheon.
In late December of 1983, the Memphis City Council approved the naming of the playing surface at Liberty Bowl Stadium as Rex Dockery Field in honor of the late coach. Now, on the 30th anniversary of that tragic event, a ceremony is being held on Wednesday, October 30th, prior to the Tigers’ game against Cincinnati, to install a commemorative plaque in remembrance of those individuals who gave their all.
Dockery, a native of Cleveland, Tenn., and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, had come to then Memphis State University in the spring of 1981, after serving as the head football coach at Texas Tech University for three years. Inheriting a football squad that had suffered three consecutive losing seasons, Dockery and his staff began their task of reconstructing the program.
After two consecutive years of showing consistent improvement through outstanding recruiting classes and excellent on-field coaching, the 1983 season became a coming out party for the Tigers. The opening game against backyard rival Ole Miss turned into a rout with Dockery’s Tigers winning 37-17. The goalposts at Liberty Bowl Stadium were torn down by the students and Dockery was carried off the field on the shoulders of his jubilant players.
More football victories would follow that fall with Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Tulane, Cincinnati and Louisville becoming victims of the rapidly improving Tigers. The 45-7 Thanksgiving weekend victory over Louisville on the frozen turf of Cardinal Stadium marked the team’s sixth win of the season and boosted Memphis’ overall record to 6-4-1. The Tigers were tabbed by the national media as the second most improved team in the nation for 1983, and Dockery and his staff set about the task of landing yet another outstanding recruiting class.
Little did anyone know that night, just 18 days later the Memphis athletic program would be rocked to its foundation with the solemn news of the loss of Dockery, Faros, Greenhill and Jones. Now, 30 years later, Wallene Leek, the former wife of Rex Dockery, Pam Russell, the former wife of Chris Faros, Sylvia Greenhill, mother of Charles Greenhill and Marty Dobson, the former wife of Glenn Jones, are returning to the football stadium where so many memorable games were played during Rex Dockery’s tenure at the Tiger helm.
With the unveiling of the plaque, donated by the Highland Hundred booster club and placed at the Tiger Lane entrance to the stadium, it is hoped that all who pass this way in the years to come will see and understand the legacy of these four Memphis Tigers.