Legendary Morgan Academy football coach passes away

Published 10:26 am Monday, May 18, 2020

A high school football coaching legend in Dallas County died Sunday night.

Robert Gartman, a former head football coach at Morgan Academy and Meadowview Christian School assistant coach, passed away Sunday. Gartman, 63, is survived by his son, John Gartman.

Last season, Gartman was an assistant head football coach at MCS under headmaster and head coach Bob Taylor.

Gartman is best known in Dallas County for his two stints as head coach at Morgan Academy.  Between 1985 and 1992, he guided the Senators to six AISA state championships: 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 2003 and 2005. He went 91-10 in his first stint with the Senators (1985-1992) and 55-36 the second time (2001-2008).

Taylor, who worked under Gartman, shared his memories. Gartman was principal at Sumter Academy and Taylor served as coach.

“Robert Gartman’s record speaks for itself, he was an outstanding football coach,” Taylor said. “He touched a lot of kid’s lives from Jackson Academy, Pickens Academy, Sumter Academy, Morgan Academy and with us at Meadowview Christian School. He made a positive influence on a lot of kids, that’s the sign of a good football coach.”

Morgan Academy girls basketball coach Lebo Jones said it was an honor to play for Gartman. Jones played football at Morgan Academy from 1987 to 1990, earning two state titles.

“Coach Gartman lived and breathed football, he was a great football coach,” Jones said.  “He taught us the value of hard work and decidation. I am honored to have played for him and I’m sure countless others feel the same way. He will be missed.”

Robert Armstrong played on the 2003 state title team at Morgan Academy and said Gartman was more than a football coach.

“As a coach football or not, part of your job is to win, but even more than that is to help boys become men,” Armstrong said. “Coach Garman did that as good as anybody.”

Morgan Academy Director of Operations Karim Plummer Oaks remembered Gartman as a track and girls basketball coach. Under Gartman, Morgan Academy won several AISA track titles.

“Gartman will go down in history as the best coach in the AISA,” Oaks said. “He had a way of getting the best effort out of his players. He was tough and hard-nosed, but his players loved him. He taught them life lessons. My daughters played basketball for him. He was tough and had them in shape.”

In 28 years as a head coach at several different schools, Gartman had a 242-91 record with seven state championships. He also coached at Wilcox Academy for five years, winning a state title in 1996.

“He touched a lot of young men’s lives and taught them to be winners,” Marengo Academy headmaster Robby James said.  “His teams were the toughest and best prepared that I ever coached against.”