MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) Bouquets of flowers, Lamar School shirts and personal messages on tennis balls were displayed on court nine of Northeast Tennis Complex.
They are all in honor of Bill Autry.
James W. “Bill” Autry died of a heart attack Monday at Anderson Regional Medical Center. He was 56 years old.
Autry was the longtime tennis coach at Lamar School, leading the Raiders to a state championship last spring. Along with coaching at Lamar, Autry taught private lessons to numerous players throughout the years. He also hosted clinics at Northeast Tennis Complex as part of the Laurie M. Autry Memorial Fund for Special Needs Children, named in honor of his first wife, who died in 2002.
Autry graduated from Meridian High School in 198. He went on to play tennis at Meridian Community College for two years before completing his education at Mississippi State.
He was also heavily involved in his church, serving as an Elder and Youth Director at First Christian Church in Meridian and other capacities for many years.
Lamar athletic director Shane Adams described Autry as someone who "always spoke from love".
"Bill was a mentor and friend. Had the most calming voice...a very Godly man that just made you realize how lucky you were to be wherever you were at," Adams shared. "He was a very sincere man and was the epitome of selflessness, always wanting to help others and never thinking of himself."
Autry’s family requests memorials be made as donations to The Laurie M. Autry Memorial Fund for Special Needs Children or to First Christian Church of Meridian, both addressed to P.O. Box 691 Meridian, MS 39302.