Sports Legends: A Life Well-Lived
Bud Asher loves sports and business – and he succeeded at both
Thirteen years ago, in the Legends column of Georgia Trend, you may have read about the amazing life led by Atlanta-born and -bred Baron Henry (Bud) Asher. But even if you did, to paraphrase the Al Jolson, “You ain’t read nothing yet.”
There were the sports – organizer, promoter, coach, quarterback and placement kicker for the University of Georgia semi-pro All-Stars. After moving to Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1954, at the age of 31, he became a head football coach in every league from Pop Warner to professional (the Jacksonville Sharks).
Then came the recruitment of caucasian football players to what was then an all African-American team at Bethune-Cookman College.
He became head football coach at one time or another of every high school in Volusia County, Fla.
To recap his other interests, there were the businesses – two oceanfront motels, a nursing home, parking lot and nightclub.
There were the politics – four-term mayor of Daytona Beach, four-term city commissioner, director of the Florida League of Cities, vice chairman of the Volusia County Planning Commis-sion. Sounds impossible, no? Not for Bud Asher, my brother.
What has not been told before is the story of his early life in the depression years. Our dad was lucky to have a job selling menswear at Klein’s Department Store from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week, in the old Peachtree Arcade, Atlanta’s first shopping mall located on Whitehall Street near where the Five Points MARTA Station is today. His salary? $25 a week.
My mother helped as much as she could. She talked her way into a cashier’s job at Kreiger’s corner grocery store for which she was paid in food.
Later she talked her way into opening a cosmetics counter at Taylor’s pharmacy, which became the Plaza Pharmacy at Highland and Ponce de Leon Avenue. Her pay was $10 a week.
Enter Bud Asher. At the age of nine, he was selling Liberty and Saturday Evening Post magazines door to door. One year later he was delivering daily newspapers, first the old Atlanta Georgian and then the morning daily, the old Atlanta Constitution. He brought home five dollars a week, half of which he put in the family pot.
Not believing in loitering, in his spare time he brought home mon-ey from sales at his Coca-Cola stand.
At the age of 12, he sold peanuts, cigarettes and Baby Ruth candy bars at old Ponce de Leon Park, home of the Atlanta Crackers. He brought home as much as four dollars per game.
A gang of hustlers once tried to oust him from his souvenir-selling place at Grant Field. It was Asher against six. The toughs came at him from every direction with fists, knees and brass knuckles. But Asher put four of the six on the deck before giving ground. He was a champion prizefighter at old Tech High School.
When the depression ended, Dad left Klein’s and became a manager at an upscale Atlanta men’s clothing store.
And when World War II started, no one showed their patriotic colors more than the Asher family. Bud joined the Naval Air Corps and became a tail gunner on a torpedo bomber. Mother joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and her son-in-law joined the Navy supply corps.
Dad became a neighborhood air raid warden, and the Marine Corps recruiter told me to come back when I wore long trousers. The Corps was not accepting any 13 year olds.
When Bud got a two-week leave after valor in combat in the Pacific, he came home and took me on a train ride to Miami to see the 1945 Orange Bowl game. We saw Tulsa University trounce Georgia Tech on the passing of All-American Glenn Dobbs and the blocking of one-armed guard Ellis Jones. Although disappointed in the outcome, we did see a stellar performance from our friend Maurice Furchgott.
Today, as I write these words, I am sad. Sad because Bud’s prostate cancer has returned and spread to the lymph nodes.
Before this is printed, Bud may be gone. On the other hand, he has overcome every obstacle he has faced in his life. Those who know him think he will overcome this, too.
So do I.