Bobby Pope

Quite a career for Joe McDaniel

Joe McDaniel, middle, retired from Musella Baptist Church on June 11.
Joe McDaniel, middle, retired from Musella Baptist Church on June 11. The Telegraph

Revered Joe McDaniel has hung up his preaching robes. The 70-year-old McDaniel retired as the pastor at Musella Baptist Church on June 11 after seven years in that position.

He assumed that role after serving as senior associate pastor at Mable White Memorial Baptist Church for 25 years. He had a three-year break from Mable White between 2002 and 2005 when he served as public information director and chaplain for the Mid Georgia Ambulance Company.

But McDaniel didn’t start out working in the church related field. The 1964 Willingham graduate attended Georgia Southern, where he earned a degree in physical education, which was a prelude to a coaching career that spanned 10 years.

His first coaching job came at Greene County in Greensboro, where he served as the basketball head coach and a football assistant coach. In his only season with the Tigers, they finished with a 15-7 record in basketball. One of his players at Greene County was Tony Barnhart, also known as as Mr. College Football.

After his lone season at Greene County, McDaniel returned to Macon and was the Macon Bibb County recreation department’s athletics director for one year. After that year, he returned to public education and was on the first faculty at Southwest after the school came into existence with the merger of Willingham, McEvoy and Ballard Hudson.

He worked at the Ballard A building and served as eighth-grade head football and basketball coach and as assistant to varsity baseball head coach Edgar Hatcher. McDaniel’s top player on his football and basketball teams was Walter “Stinky” Daniels, who was his quarterback in football and point guard in basketball. Daniels led Southwest to a GHSA Class 3A basketball championship and earned a scholarship to Georgia, where he became an All-SEC performer.

After two seasons at Southwest, McDaniel took over as the basketball head coach at Mount de Sales and was there from 1972-78. Among the players he coached with the Cavaliers were Larry Lawrence, who went on to play at Dartmouth and for 19 years in Europe, and Charles Harris, who played at Iowa State and started as a freshman.

McDaniel left Mount de Sales to go into the admissions department at Mercer, where he worked from 1978-82, serving as director from 1980-82. He left Mercer and got in the ministry at Mable White, working with college students and senior adults.

One the highlights of his career was carrying the Olympic Torch for Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games. He was the first of 22 Maconites to carry the torch in Bibb County. While at Mable White, he also assisted as a track and cross county coach for his son Chad at FPD for eight years.

Most of McDaniel’s participation in sports while in high school came in church leagues and recreation ball. He was a standout on the 1964 Macon team that won the Georgia Parks and Recreation state basketball tournament. While he played basketball for Willingham up until his junior year, he never earned a varsity letter. Ironically he made the freshman basketball team at Georgia Southern.

McDaniel is an accomplished speaker and writer. He has given eulogies at several funerals that I have attended, and I have never heard better. He also wrote the very entertaining and informative book “31206,” which chronicles the lives of 25 ultra successful students who attended Willingham.

I know I used the expression in a column about Ray Cutright that I never met a man who didn’t like him, and that goes for McDaniel, as well. He is about as good as they come.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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