Howard McGehee "Red" Whittington

Coach
Inducted 1991 (charter class)

Howard McGee Whittington was born January 25, 1908 in Marshallville, Georgia. His father was a circuit riding Methodist preacher and his early childhood consisted of frequent moves from one town in south Georgia to another. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1927. He was an outstanding player in basketball, football and baseball.

In 1927-28, he attended Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. The yearbook that year stated that he was one of the best quarterbacks in Virginia, the guard on the basketball team who could consistently hold his man to a few points, and was the outstanding catcher on the baseball team. 

"Red" entered The Citadel in the fall of 1927. As a freshman player he achieved nationwide attention by gaining 420 yards for eight touchdowns while having his hands on the football only 10 times. This feat was noted in "Ripley's Believe It Or Not." He was the high scorer on the basketball team and the catcher on the baseball team. He lettered in four sports during each of his four years at The Citadel, and was the captain of the football team his senior year.

Upon graduation from college in 1932, he became the assistant coach at Palm Beach High School. In 1933, he became the head coach of the football, basketball and baseball teams. He held these positions until 1941 when he was called into the Army. After a tour in the Army, he returned to Palm Beach High School as the athletic director, head football coach, and varsity baseball coach and then was appointed principal in 1955 at Riviera Beach High School.

On June 14, 1935, he married Roberta Davis (deceased in 1976) and they had two children – Caroline and Howard, Jr.

While coaching football he achieved a record of 93 wins, 55 losses, and 10 ties. He had several outstanding teams of note. Over the years many players achieved the notoriety of All-State and All-Southern honors. Among them was Burt Reynolds in 1953.

Accurate win-loss records for baseball have been difficult to obtain. However, in his 17 years of coaching baseball he took his teams to the state tournament 13 times. He won three state titles and was state runner-up once.

On December 5, 1956, at the age of 48, Whittington suffered a massive heart attack in his office at Riviera Beach High School. He passed away on December 7, 1956.

Judge James R. Knott, writing for the Palm Beach County Historical Society, wrote the following in the Palm Beach Post on May 22, 1983:

"By any measure the No. 1 character in Palm Beach High School sports was H.M. "Red" Whittington. No player on any team could ever forget the demanding discipline which got results, first in the win column, more importantly in contributing to the transition of youth from carefree students to solid adult citizens."