ALBANY — Surrounded by family, former Atlanta Braves baseball coach Bobby Dews died Saturday evening at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. He was 76.
Born in Clinton, Iowa, Dews grew up in Edison, where he played high school baseball and basketball and went on to star in both sports at Georgia Tech.
He spent 53 years in professional baseball, including more than 40 years with the Braves organization, before retiring in 2012.
He was also a writer, publishing novels such as “Largo” and “Unpublished Poets,” as well as a collection of short stories, “Legends, Demons and Dreams.”
“Bobby’s passing is a huge loss for our community; actually it is a huge loss for everybody,” Edison Mayor Reeves Lane said. “He’d been a big friend of the Lane Family for years, and he will be missed. The thing I will remember most about Bobby Dews is he always wanted to do for other people.”
Frank Miller who played a Jakin High School was one of Dews’ opponents at Edison High School (now Calhoun County High) and lamented “the great loss for Edison.”
“This is really a shock to everybody around here,” Miller said. “Bobby was the most caring and generous person I knew, and that was his greatest attribute. He was a very giving person, and most of the people who benefited from his generosity never knew it came from him.
“Oh, and he was also a pretty good basketball player, but he was a better baseball coach, a great teacher of the fundamentals of the game. And he knew baseball.”
Dews was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Georgia Tech. He played and managed in the St. Louis farm system before joining the Atlanta Braves organization. Dews began working with the Braves organization in 1974. He managed at multiple minor league levels and served as field coordinator of instruction in the Braves’ farm system.
His career as an Atlanta coach occurred during three different terms: 1979–81; 1985; 1997–2006. After the 2006 season, he retired as the Braves’ bullpen coach to become a roving coach.
“A true Brave who gave his heart and soul to our organization to help create, develop and lead one of the most productive minor league systems ever,” Braves president John Schuerholz said of Dews on the Braves’ web site. “He was a good man and dear friend to his Braves family. He will be very truly missed.”
Former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones agreed, tweeting, “Christian, coach, mentor, writer and friend! He was great at all of them. Braves Country will miss you! Rest in Peace Bobby Dews.”
Dews is survived by his wife of 39 years, Glenda Bolin Dews; his daughter and son-in-law, Dana Dews Gates and John Paul Gates of Richmond, Va.; his grandson and namesake, Robert Dawson Gates; his sister, Patricia MacLean of Trussville, Ala.; his stepsister, Marcia Killingsworth of Edison; stepbrothers Lawrence Killingsworth of Spokane, Wash., and Scott Killingsworth of Atlanta; and several nieces and nephews.