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Former HU Head Football Coach John Prock Passes Away at 83
Clifford John Prock, a resident of Searcy since 1960, died at his home Tuesday, July 17, following a lengthy battle with a form of Lewy Body dementia. He was born March 13, 1929, in Hollis, Okla., to the late Lonnie and Lillie Mae Hooks Prock. He was 83.
Prock is survived by his wife of 64 years, Charlene, of Searcy, Ark.; three children – Martina (and Ronnie) Peacock of Rogers, Ark.; Mona Daniel of Sulphur Springs, Texas; and Cam (and Robbin) Prock of Rogers, Ark. Also surviving are eight grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.
Prock was a football coach for 33 years, including 28 years at Harding University. He was honored as District 17 NAIA Coach of the Year in 1969, 1972 and 1976 and NAIA Area IV Coach of the Year in 1976. He was a charter member of the Harding University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Hollis (Oklahoma)/ Harmon County Sports Hall of Fame. He was named to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1991, the Southwestern State University Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
At the time of his retirement in 1987, he was the fifth most successful active coach in the NAIA and Dean of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. He had coached 10 NAIA All-Americans, four Academic All-Americans and 63 All-AIC honorees. His former players gave him a clock with the following inscription on an attached gold plate:
Coach Prock, DUTY, HONOR, LOVE, We learned these from you, Bison Football Players 1960-1987.
His most successful season as a coach was in 1972 when Harding's Bisons were Co-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference champions and winners of the Cowboy Bowl.
When Prock began coaching at Harding in 1960, strength training was a new concept whose critics thought working with weights would cause players to lose their speed and quickness. He had always been able to build just about anything, so Prock scrounged around the maintenance department for scraps of wood he could use to build weights. He eventually built the weight room, and weight lifting became an integral part of training to play football at Harding.
Prock served as a Sergeant 1st Class with the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma National Guard during the Korean War, along with 65 others from Hollis, who were called to active duty in 1950. "We trusted our lives with one another," he once said of Company D. For 24 years, Company D has held an annual reunion, hosted by one of the veterans or family members.
Prock was a man of perseverance. His mom died when he was 2, so he lived with his paternal grandmother until she died when he was 9. He lived with his dad and stepmother until his graduation from high school in 1948. After he and Charlene married, he purchased an old barn for $50, and he and his dad made it into a three-room house – debt free!
Following his military service, Prock attended Southwest Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship and the G.I. bill, completing both a bachelor's and master's degree in industrial arts. He taught Shop at Clinton (Okla.) High School during the years he coached football there.
Prock was an accomplished woodcarver who appeared on two television shows and in several newspaper features. The family's home is filled with furniture and furnishings that he made. He once built a 15-foot ski boat and a 33-foot party barge for family fun. He carved souvenir-sized Santas, ducks, golfers and Indians. He was invited to be a resident carver in Branson, Mo., but chose to stay at home to teach private carving classes in his shop. Always fascinated with log cabins, Prock relocated to their back yard and restored a 150-year-old authentic log cabin from its original homestead in Mt. Vernon, Ark.
Few people were aware of Prock's musical interest. He liked to play the harmonica, he loved opera music and his favorite song was "Unchained Melody." But more than any other interest, he loved sports, especially football. He played football in high school and college. He coached football in high school and college. His son played quarterback for his football team, and his daughters were among the cheerleaders for his team.
The Procks have been long-time members of the West Side Church of Christ, where he was a Sunday school teacher, deacon and elder.
If anyone would like to make a memorial to the Prock family in memory of Coach Prock in lieu of flowers, these may be made to:
Hope Cancer Resources
5835 W. Sunset Avenue
Springdale, AR 72762