Charles Ragan Sr., 79: Former Murphey Candler Park coach

After a long day at his commercial plumbing, heating and air business, Charlie Ragan spent countless hours mentoring youth at Murphey Candler Park.

A football coach for 16 years at the park, Ragan taught more than the game: He imparted life lessons.

“My biggest take-away from that time was that you had to work for something that was difficult to achieve,” said Chuck Trense, who played for Ragan. “And it was because of the dedication and commitment of people like Coach Ragan that I went back to try and do the same thing they did for me.”

When Ragan and his wife bought their home near the park in the ’60s, the youth football league was just getting started. Joyce Ragan said her husband of more than 57 years played football in his younger days and didn’t hesitate to share what he knew with the kids.

“He gladly went over there, but it wasn’t just him, it was a whole family effort,” she said. “But he was good at coaching, and he loved it.”

Doug Bennett, who coached with Ragan in the ’70s, said the coach had a pleasant disposition that was appreciated by players, parents and other coaches.

“Kids in that era were looking for people to look up to,” he said. “And Charlie definitely filled that bill, no question about it.”

Charles Ragan Sr., of Roswell, died Friday after a brief respiratory illness. He was 79.

A memorial service is planned for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Roswell Funeral Home, which was also in charge of cremation arrangements.

An Atlanta native, Ragan had only been retired since August. For 50 years he, and for a long time he and his brother, ran Ragan Mechanical Contractors. In the ’60s, when Ragan’s father was ailing, he and his brother took over the family plumbing business. Over the years the business expanded and eventually included heating and air services.

Mechanical engineering wasn’t something Ragan dreamed about as a kid, but it was his brother’s major at Georgia Tech, so he figured he’d try it too, his wife said. Ragan graduated from Tech in 1956 and the next year he was off to the Air Force. After his service he returned to Atlanta and worked for an architectural company before taking a technology job that moved his growing family to Virginia. After two years the Ragans moved back to Atlanta and settled in to stay.

Lovingly called Big Daddy by his seven grandkids and eventually his children as well, Ragan was a provider for his immediate and extended families, Leslie Bennett said of her father.

“And the extended family included employees and the kids he coached,” she said. “If he could help someone, he would. And he was able to do that through his business a lot of times, but he didn’t talk about it.”

The only thing Ragan would brag about was being on the track team during his senior year at Sylvan High School, his wife said.

“In 1951, the relay team that he ran on for Sylvan won the Birmingham relays,” she said, with a laugh. “It has always been a joke in the family because any time and anybody would talk about anything, he’d bring that up.”

In addition to his wife, daughter and grandchildren, Ragan is survived by sons Charles Ragan Jr. of Cobb County, Russell Ragan of Smyrna and Troy Ragan of Roswell; sister Dorothy Cook of Tucker; and brother Waymon Ragan of Marietta.