Picayune's # 1 Sports Fan

by Carey Meitzler

      If you arrive at a Picayune Memorial High School (PMHS) sporting event, odds are you will

spot Robert Puyper somewhere in the crowd. In fact, if you come early to a Maroon Tide football

game, you will probably notice a quiet, observant gentleman sitting near the top of the stands taking

in everything going on around him. That's part of what makes a Friday night of high school football

one of his favorite events.

     “Getting there early, home or away, gives you a chance to see and feel the excitement, the build up

of the crowd, the teams arriving on the field, watching it unfold is like magic in the air when it all happens.

It's just super. Wouldn't want to miss it for anything, “ says Puyper .

 

               Robert Puyper

 

     “Mr. Puyper”, as he is called by just about everyone, is a Picayune native and a 1948 graduate of PMHS.

He played five (5) years of varsity football, earning a letter in four of those years.  In 1942, Puyper was on the

last team the legendary Dobie Holden coached at Picayune.  Jack Nix took over in 1943 and Picayune won the

State Independent Championship, one not recognized by the Mississippi High School Activities Association. 

He holds the distinction of playing for Holden and Nix who were both inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall

of Fame.

      After leaving Picayune, Puyper chose to enter the United States Air Force where he served for twenty years

and three months earning a retirement.  He returned home and later worked with the U.S. Postal Service for

another fourteen years. Retiring in 1988, Puyper has enjoyed growing a garden, raising cows, rabbits, and spending

time with his wife.  Since his wife passed away four years ago, he spends most of his time around sporting events

at PMHS. He rarely misses any Tide sporting events.

     “I just like the way our teams play. It's like they are always playing for one championship after another. It's the

best sports program in the state and I just love every bit of it,” said Puyper.

       Mr. Puyper does more than just come to the games.  After each Maroon Tide home football game, he prepares

a meal for the coaches and their families to enjoy in the field house after the game.  “I normally start cooking on

Thursday and do the majority of it so I can come out early on Friday.” And cook he does. Lasagna, jambalaya, and

many other great meals.  Assistant coach Donnie Bond had this to say after the Picayune's home game against Ocean

Springs.  “He's just great. Just look at this here tonight,” referring to another great post game meal prepared by Puyper.

       When asked of his fondest memory of Maroon Tide sports, Mr.Puyper immediately smiles and mentions a Tide

football game from a few years ago. “We were going to play Hancock and they were ranked something like #17 in

the state and our boys played an almost perfect game and beat them 40-0. It was like nothing I had ever seen.”

       Mr. Puyper is a big fan for the Maroon Tide sports program and is recognized by many as one of the most

dependable people around the program.  And to some, it goes much deeper in their personal lives.

      “Mr. Puyper is like a father figure to me. I lost my father ten years ago and Mr. Puyper has just been great for

me," said assistant coach Gen Breland.  "He's always got something good to say and he is truly our number one fan.”

     “He is definitely our number one fan in all sports, not just football, but also in baseball, basketball, all our sports,”

says Head Coach Dodd Lee. “When we get our new track built, I'm sure he'll be there for that as well. He just really

enjoys the kids, comes to watch us practice, he is just great to all of us.”

      Mr. Puyper's demeanor is one that exudes all the positives about high school athletics. He is always looking at the

good things around him.

     “I have never heard a negative thing out of his mouth. Always behind the kids supporting them ,“ said assistant coach

Brian Edwards. “We just love to have him around.”