Walt Snelling was woven into the very fabric of Gainesville High athletics, as much a part of Big Red as The Rock, City Park or any number of the illustrious athletes and committed coaches to have graced the playing field.
Not many high school public address announcers receive recognition from a Governor, but Snelling earned just that in 2013 when Nathan Deal honored the longtime Red Elephant during his final call from the press box at City Park that now bears his name.
While the rolling, rich tones of Snelling's public 'attaboys' ceased some time ago, no one who heard him will forget him. And the athletes -- both Gainesville and opposition -- who earned his praise knew they had done something worthy. And Snelling made it a point to recognize anyone, regardless of jersey color.
Snelling passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81 following a short illness, and a piece of Gainesville history went with him.
Snelling would only allow that he was a great tackling dummy for the 1951 Gainesville team that reached the state semifinals -- or that he played at the same time that future masters champion Tommy Aaron quarterbacked the Red Elephants -- or that he was a senior when eventual legendary coach Bobby Gruhn joined the program as a little-known assistant.
Yet his voice supplied a veritable sound track for so much of northeast Georgia's athletic achievment, and all who heard it were better for it.
Reflections: Our own Katie B. Davis describes what made Snelling special...
We captured a small part of Snelling's encyclopedic local sports memories on video following his final call in 2013, and present here a slice of what made Snelling such an icon for not only Gainesville High but for all of youth sports and the entire community.