CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Ben Fendley, who was a football star for the Austin Peay State University football team from 1947-50 and member of APSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame, died Sunday. He was 84.
Funeral services will be held noon, Wednesday, at Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Chapel with Rev. Skip Armistead officiating. Burial will be in Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-West in Hopkinsville, Ky. Visitation will be held 3-7 p.m., Tuesday, and 10 a.m. until the hour of service, Wednesday.
A native of Dora, Ala., who did a little of everything on Coach Dave Aaron’s best football teams form 1947-50, Fendley helped lead the Governors to 8-2, 8-2, and 5-2-1 records his last three years as a 182-pound halfback.
The Governors won the Volunteer State Athletic Conference title in 1948. Fendley held most of APSU’s rushing records before John Ogles arrived on scene in the mid -1960’s. He gained 1,856 yards on 326 carries and totaled 2,548 yards in total offense. For a long time he owned APSU’s single-season (6.8 ypr) and career (5.7 ypr) rushing average marks.
The versatile Fendley also kicked extra points, punted, kicked off and was the kickoff return man. He totaled 666 yards in kickoff returns and 186 points on 25 touchdowns and 36 points after. He gained 201 yards in punt returns and scored 67 points in one season.
In fact, he was so successful at APSU, Ole Miss attempted to poach him from the roster, being offered a scholarship to the SEC school. However, he elected to finish his career at APSU, where he graduated in 1951. He also captained the Governors baseball team. He was inducted into APSU’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979.
After graduation he was a Marine Corps veteran, serving in the Korean War. After his military stint, he began his teaching and coaching career at Stewart County High School in 1954. In 1957 he began coaching at Clarksville High School until 1992.
He began his CHS career as an assistant football coach. However, Fendley took over as head Wildcats basketball coach in 1959 and held it for 34 years until his retirement. It included a 29-2 record and No. 1 state ranking in 1963 and a state runner-up in 1964. He finished with 667 victories.
He is survived by his wife, Geraldine Gray (Geri) Reed Fendley of Clarksville, two sons, Mart Grayson Fendley (Alice) and William Benjamin (Bill) Fendley (Teena) of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla,, and Clarksville, respectively; sister, Mary Jo Melvin of Birmingham, Ala.; eight grandchildren, Elizabeth Anne Fendley Hahn, Benjamin (Ben) Grayson Fendley, Jacob (Jake) Walter Fendley, Catherine Amelia Fendley, Krista Nichole Wilbon, James Clayton Grubbs, Taylor Alexsis Warren, and Stephanie Ann Ripley; and eight great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ben Fendley Athletic Scholarship Fund at APSU.