Former Tornado Rea joins La. College Hall
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 3:12 AM
It's been a while since Philadelphia High School alumnus Jimmy Rea played football at Louisiana College.
But he never forgot the good memories of his college days in the late 1950s. And Louisiana College fans apparently never forgot Rea as he was recently inducted into the Pineville, La., college's sports Hall of Fame.
"I was very pleased when the college's athletic director called and told me that I had been selected," said Rea, who now lives in Brandon. "I enjoyed going back and seeing some of my former teammates. We have a very good time and it was a great day."
Rea was a running back. He graduated from Philadelphia High School in 1956 after playing on the Tornado team under coach Bill Jerrell. He went on the East Central Junior College and played two seasons there under coach Clayton Blount.
"We had a good team at Philadelphia during my senior year but we didn't win the Choctaw Conference championship," Rea said. "Canton beat us. We finished second in the conference and had a good year.
"I went on to play at East Central for two years. We had fair teams but the biggest thing I remember is beating East Mississippi twice. We beat them in a game played in Meridian at Ray Stadium. Then we beat them again at East Central. Bull Sullivan was their coach."
Rea considered going to Mississippi College but Louisiana College was giving football scholarships and that drew him to Pineville, La.
"A lot of Mississippi boys were going to Louisiana College back then and I was one of them," Rea said. "It was a good Baptist college. My roommate at East Central got a scholarship there and he got me to come."
Rea played in the 1958 and 1959 seasons at Louisiana College. He recalled that the 1958 team played in the Stuttgart, Ark., bowl and took a victory over Arkansas Tech. They didn't go to a bowl during the 1959 season.
"That was a great season," said Rea. "We beat Mississippi College 66-0 that year. We also played Memphis State, Livingston State and Southern Arkansas State. It was a great year."
His Hall of Fame plaque read: "Jimmy played an important role. It (the 1958 team) was the best football team Louisiana College ever had."
Rea said 14 of his 50 former teammates had passed away. He was pleased that 22 members of the team had returned to the school for homecoming.
"We had a good reunion," Rea said. "There were a lot of stories told."
After receiving his degree, Rea returned to Mississippi where he coached and taught school at Moss Point and Greenwood. He returned to Philadelphia after five years in education, and bought a used car lot. In 1976, he purchased the Ford dealership in Philadelphia and at one point, had ownership in a used car dealership, a new car dealership and a car auction company.
In 1979, Rea sold his interest in the car dealerships. He moved to the Jackson area where he opened a car auction company. Today, he, his brother, Kenny Rea, and son, John Rea, own and operate Rea Brothers Mid-South Auction. They have had two previous locations in the Jackson area, and are now located in Pearl. The business is built on 59 acres of land.
"We go through about 700 cars a week," Rea said. "We pick up cars from dealers and lease companies.
"We will have six lanes going at one time. My daddy was in the car business and he got me into it."