Funeral, Celebration of Life for Coach Dowling
Submitted on January 8, 2018
It is with a heavy heart that Georgetown College announces the passing of one of its beloved alumni, former coach, and former trustee. Thomas Walter “Tom” Dowling, Jr., Class of 1962, loved all things Georgetown including the football team he helped to revitalize as a player, then as an assistant to head coach. He passed away Sunday after a long battle with cancer.
Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Thursday at John L. Hill Chapel on the Georgetown College campus; a Celebration of Life follows at noon at Georgetown College Conference Center on Crawford Drive.
“We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said GC Director of Athletics Brian Evans. “Coach Dowling left his fingerprints on all he touched. Starting from his time as a student here, leading on the field and in the classroom, all the way to his days as the league commissioner.
“At Georgetown, he helped our teams always be successful and built up young men that have gone on to lead and be very successful in all they do. Following his days guiding Cumberlands (University of the Cumberlands), where he was the staple of building the modern era of that program, he returned to help us look over all the athletes, coaches, and people who have come in contact with Georgetown College athletics to ensure we were inducting quality student-athletes into our illustrious Athletic Hall of Fame. He will be missed.”
Dowling first laced it up for the Tigers during the 1957 season. The team notched wins over Earlham College and Centre College and had a breakout season in 1958. Georgetown went 7-1 that year. Notable wins came against Maryville College, Tennessee-Martin, Centre, and Earlham. The Tigers started it all with a 13-0 win over the Colonels and bookended it with a 39-0 win over Earlham.
Dowling donned the 78 jersey and he is part of the team’s historic locker room legends.
He returned to his beloved alma mater in 1969 to walk the sidelines as defensive coordinator for Coach Lester Craft. In his four seasons as a coordinator, the team had up and down moments, but the one stable unit was his defensive crew – consistently ranked in the Top 10 of all NAIA teams. GC went 18-21 in that span before Craft was replaced by Dowling.
He took the reins as head coach, guiding Georgetown to a 23-14-1 record and national rankings in 1974, ’75, and ’76. He was inducted into the Georgetown College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. He served as a Trustee of Georgetown College from 2003 to 2006.
“Tom was a great leader of people, but especially young men,” said GC coach Bill Cronin. “He has represented the coaching profession as well as anyone in the business. Tom was committed to GC in many ways and will be missed deeply. Tiger prayers go out to his wife, MaryAnn, as she works through this difficult time.”
Dowling departed to coach Liberty Baptist College where he was named Small College Coach of the Year. His next coaching step was to help Cumberland College, now the University of the Cumberlands, reinstate football and serve as the head coach from 1983-95. During his time with the then Indians, now Patriots, Dowling was three times named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year. The Indians won two conference champions, including an undefeated 10-0 regular season in 1988. The team participated in the NAIA National Football Championship playoffs under Dowling, who was also named NAIA District 32 Coach of the Year in ’88. He retired from Cumberlands ranking ninth in total wins among NAIA active football coaches.
Once he left coaching, his love for the MSC continued as he was named commissioner and served from 1995-2002. He expanded the league from seven teams to nine full or affiliate members. For his service, the MSC Administrative Council unanimously decided to name the conference's football championship trophy the Tom Dowling Mid-South Conference Football Championship Trophy.
Johnson's Funeral Home, Georgetown, Ky. is handling arrangements.
Prepared by Jenny Elder, SID