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14 Ralph Carlisle

Ralph Carlisle
Hometown (Last School)
Lawrenceburg, KY [Kavanaugh School, Lawrenceburg, KY]
1934-35, 1935-36, 1936-37
January 26, 1915

Obituary – REVERED FORMER COACH AT LAFAYETTE HIGH DIES, Lexington Herald-Leader (August 8, 1999) by J. Scott Shive

Ralph Emerson Carlisle, once hailed as the best high school coach in the state by University of Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp, died yesterday at St. Joseph Hospital Hospice Care Center. He was 84.

In 1950s Kentucky, the focus in high school basketball was Mr. Carlisle’s Lafayette High School team. Between 1945, when he started there, and his retirement from coaching in 1961, Mr. Carlisle led Lafayette to three Sweet Sixteen crowns (in 1950, 1953 and 1957), 17 total victories in the state tournament, six regional titles and 11 district championships.

While coaching at Lafayette, Richmond’s Madison High School and his alma mater, Kavanaugh High School near Lawrenceburg, Mr. Carlisle compiled an impressive 488-144 career record.

“He was a drill sergeant in practice and a father figure off the court,” said Bob Mulcahy , a member of Lafayette’s 1950 state champion team and a former state championship coach at Seneca High School in Louisville. “He always pushed his players to be the best players and the best people they could be.”

Mr. Carlisle was named Coach of the Decade for the 1950s in a poll by The Courier-Journal of Louisville. His 1953 state championship team was named Team of the Decade, and he was twice named Basketball Coach of the Year by the Kentucky High School Coaches Association.

“He was a great competitor and asset to professional coaching,” said S.T. Roach, former coach at the old Dunbar High School and one of Mr. Carlisle’s chief rivals on the court.

Lafayette’s gymnasium is named for Mr. Carlisle and Maurice Jackson, another former basketball coach at the school. In 1989, a scholarship was also established there in his honor.

Mr. Carlisle, an avid hunter, fisherman and golfer, was born in 1915 in Ninevah in Anderson County. As a high school basketball player at Kavanaugh, first under the tutelage of Earle Jones and then Paul McBrayer, he was twice named to the All-State team and was named leading scorer in the state tournament of his senior year. Mr. Carlisle earned a scholarship to play at the University of Kentucky under Adolph Rupp. There, he was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team.

After his retirement from coaching in 1961, Mr. Carlisle began working as a manager for insurance company Equitable of Kentucky, where he received several awards for his work. He was eventually promoted to district manager for Equitable Life Assurance Society of New Jersey. He remained active in the insurance business until recently.

He also maintained an interest in basketball until his death, although Mr. Carlisle often found himself overly critical of the modern game. He was a stickler for basketball fundamentals as a coach, and he thought contemporary players did not work hard enough on them.

Mr. Carlisle is survived by his wife of 58 years, Thelma Willoughby Carlisle. His son, the Rev. Michael Emerson “Corky” Carlisle, daughter-in-law Doris Bentley Carlisle, and grandson Absalom Carlisle, also survive.

Contributions are suggested to Central Christian Church, where he was a former deacon and senior elder, or the Friends of Ralph Carlisle Scholarship Fund, 2043 Manor Drive, Lexington, KY 40502. Arrangements are incomplete at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home.

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