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Coach Louis Harvey 83 of Benton Harbor departed this life Saturday, November 4, 2023.
Born to the late Wilma and Simon J. Harvey on November 23, 1939 in Earle Arkansas, Lou Harvey was a servant leader who served his community with honor, integrity and pride, alongside his beloved wife and love of his life, Ruth Ann where together for 55 years and raised 3 children…. Tony, Lisa and Stefanie Vandenberg, one son-in-love Kyle Vandenberg, three grandchildren, Kalabrya (Haskins), Kysre, and Grant Kalon-Louis Gondrezick II, and two God-sons Prentice McGruder and Dillon (Angelette) Barnes.
After 45 years, Coach Harvey retired as a Health and Physical Education educator for Benton Harbor Area Schools and coached girls basketball, baseball, track and football. He held a B.S. & M.A. from, both, the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff/AM&N, and Western Michigan University.
A native of South Bend, Indiana, he graduated from South Bend Washington in 1959, where he was later inducted into the South Bend Washington Hall of Fame with accomplished feats as a three-sport, nine varsity-letter winner. He was named All-Conference for three consecutive years and All-State in basketball, baseball, and cross-country where he was a “state-qualifier.” His baseball team was crowned Conference Champions, as he hit 2 homeruns to win the game!
At an unprecedented time, Lou attended college on both a baseball and basketball scholarship where he was inducted into his University’s Hall of Fame, in 2008. Upon graduation from AM&N, he played Double A Professional Baseball with the Missouri HillToppers in 1966. His collegiate career was interrupted by serving honorably in the Army.
Having a passion for teaching and coaching, he became the Head men’s basketball coach at Lake Michigan College for 9 years where he led his team to the Junior College National Championship game with only six players and losing by one point, where he was later inducted into the LMC Hall of Fame. With coaching success at the collegiate level, he was regularly offered opportunities to coach at the Division 1 level; however, after consulting with his abiding wife, they made the deliberate decision to commit and serve the youth and community of Benton Harbor. God always makes rooms for your gifts, and his gift was unconditional love for everyone.
Known for never cutting a player from the team, coach believed “players cut themselves,” in 1989, Coach Harvey became the Lady Tigers Girls Varsity Basketball Coach where he led the program to their first ever Class A State Championship title in 2009. But it was less about winning games and championships, and more about education and life lessons. One of his favorite quotes was “If it pays to be educated, look what it costs to be ignorant.” Education was his mantra and constant campaign. He often told his children that he didn’t have a lot of money, but he did have a lot of time; so, he taught them what he knew in order to earn scholarships to college, which they did. The very same gift he gave to his players.
His humanity reflects a committed oath to empowering youth and families through education and athletics generated an astounding chemistry of success. As an honorable man, he was appreciated by many in his community with the city of Benton Harbor honoring Coach Harvey with the highest form of recognition in dedicating August 9th as “Lou Harvey Day” and renaming a strip of Colfax Avenue, “Lou Harvey Way” in 2020.”
The Band of Brethren honored him as one of the Outstanding Male of the Year Awards and the Man of the Year in 2009, the Sorority of Alpha Kappa Alpha also recognized him as AKA Man of the Year in 2015 and in 2022, Present Pillars recognized him as a Legendary Pillar, one who exemplified the virtues of fatherhood who also filled the void left by others.
Coach Harvey unconsciously role modeled discipline and work ethic for his students, players and others that were around him. It has been expressed that he inspired the lives of many with his grace, humor, wisdom and leadership. He always believed that a real champion is not measured by one’s relentless victories and outstanding recognition; but, for their monumental contributions preserved through the spirit of humanity, community impact, and lives you can inspire to achieve.
Coach Harvey’s record exceeds 350 wins over a twenty-year career. He’s won 13 District Titles, 5 Regional Championships, 2 Quarter-Finals, and 2 Final Four appearances. Coach Harvey was named Coach of the Year 11 times, Associated Press Coach of the Year 3 times, and BCAM Coach of the Year, and has coached the Michigan All-Stars for the All-Star Game, both girls and boys.
Coach is preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, his parents Wilma and Simon J. Harvey, his sister, Erselle Harvey-Butler, his son-in law, Grant Gondrezick, and grandson-in-love, Dwayne Haskins, Jr. He leaves behind a host of sister in laws; Carolyn (Lenny Ray) Oakley, Mary Catherine (Buddis) Guillory, Barbara Ann (Charles) Johnson, Burlie Elisabeth (Micheal) Hanson, Brenda (Edwards), Marilyn Sue (James) Edwards, Edwards, Sharilyn (Edwards) and brother in law, Larry (Laddy B). Special Friends, Calvin (Gwen) Edwards, Paul (LaVerne) Wilhite, Johnny (Barnes) and Larry (Kathy) Klaer, a host of nieces, nephews, extended relatives, community god-children and friends.
In Lieu of Flowers, the family would like for you to consider making a donation to the Ruth Ann & Louis Harvey Benton Harbor Youth HBCU Scholarship Fund at the Berrien Community Foundation.
You can mail your check to the address below:
Berrien Community Foundation
℅ Ruth Ann & Louis Harvey HBCU Scholarship
2900 S. State Street Ste. 2E
St. Joseph, MI 49085