BENTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Hundreds gathered at Benton Central Tuesday to say goodbye to one of their own. The school held a funeral for the school's former athletic director and superfan Dick Atha.
For people like Norm Miller, Dick Atha was more than just a name.
"He was Benton County," said Miller.
Atha was born and raised in Otterbein before playing professional basketball for the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons.
After a few years, he returned to Indiana, teaching and coaching students at Oxford High School.
"When he came to Oxford in 1958, it was unbelievable. He coached us in everything. Basketball, baseball, cross country, track," said Miller.
It was Atha's commitment to the students and the sports he loved that gave him his reputation at Oxford and Benton Central.
Steve Graves also played under Atha at Oxford. He said Atha always found a way to put students first.
As much as he did in college and the professional ranks and all that, I mean I found out about that today. I never knew it. He never let us know that. It was always about us, and that was very impactful," said Graves.
Graves said Atha embodied everything Benton Central was about.
"I can't imagine that I was any different than anybody else. And there were thousands that came after me. His enthusiasm was contagious," said Graves.
During his time at Benton Central, Atha served as counselor, assistant principal, principal and athletic director. While in these positions, he always made time to attend games and talk to students.
And though Atha may be gone, Miller said he believes his legacy will continue to live on in Benton County.
"As a person I don't know anybody, anybody, that has affected over three generations of people positively like Dick Atha has," said Miller.
Atha passed away last Thursday. He was 88 years old.
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