Final Thoughts

  • Scotty’s Irrepressible Spirit Lives Among Us

    John "Buddy" Fisher '46

    “He was the only absolutely irrepressible student this writer ever taught. Completely uninhibited, he would leap to his feet in the middle of a quiet class, shouting with the enthusiasm of a moment’s thought,” wrote James E. Hitt in a description of Scotty Probasco ’46 in his 1971 history of Baylor School, It Never Rains After Three O’Clock. Mr. Hitt was head of the English department at the time and had taught several thousand boys at Baylor over a span of 30 years. However, Scotty’s indomitable spirit and enthusiasm did not begin, nor did it end, during his six years as a Baylor student.

    At the age of five, Scotty and I were predestined to sit next to each other on the first day of the new year in the Sunday School Primary Department at the First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga. Never having laid eyes on each other before, Scotty said he wanted to show me something and promptly picked up my unsuspecting little hand in his prankish little hand and firmly bent my middle finger back to the breaking point and excruciating pain. To this day this was the first real pain I can recall. Scotty got my attention that day and has never lost it!

    Becoming close friends with Scotty over the next six years as classmates at Bright School and another six years at Baylor was a blessing. Weekend visits in each other’s homes, his on the banks of the Tennessee River in North Chattanooga’s Riverview, and mine on the banks of the same river downstream at Baylor School, not only solidified our friendship but also acquainted us with each other’s families. Mrs. Probasco was a stately, gracious, lovely, and confident lady endowed with impeccable taste and social graces, valuable assets in her role as the wife of a prominent Chattanooga banker and the mother of two daughters and a son. Mr. Probasco was a dignified, distinguished, and rather reserved gentleman for whom I felt a sense of awe. I often wondered if their son’s exuberance and overthe-top enthusiasm, sometimes bordering on being reckless, gave his parents some concerns about how he would fulfill his legacy. For example, Scotty ate his meals unreservedly. On spaghetti lunch day at Bright School, he was known to come home regularly with tell-tale tomato sauce all over both sleeves of his short-sleeved, white Buster Brown shirt. Did his mother wonder if she would ever teach him table manners? Scotty drove automobiles fervently, and they had to be replaced frequently. Headmaster (H.B.) Barks grounded Scotty when Mrs. Barks reported he almost ran her off the Baylor Road. Did his father ever have doubts about being able to make a banker out of this kid?

    Yet this “completely uninhibited, irrepressible student,” would be a recognized force in providing unparalleled leadership in so many facets of his community, state, and nation. In the trustee’s biographical section of his 1971 book, Hitt outlined Scotty’s six year record of accomplishments and numerous activities as a student from 1940-46, which included military honors, drama, Glee Club, Round Table, Officers’ Club, business manager of the Baylor Notes, golf team captain, and many others. He went on to add these observations of Scotty as a young 43-year-old banker and business leader: “Scott Livingston Probasco, Jr., a gregarious, dynamic, and enthusiastic young man in motion, endowed with broad sympathies and expansive good will. Mr. Probasco has been prominently representative of what (Chattanooga) Times journalist Charles Pennington once called ‘an emerging new breed’ of young men. These young men have in common a pragmatic, yet enthusiastic attitude toward their community. He honors tradition and the memory of his father, but he is an independent thinker who is receptive to new ideas and who acts boldly when action is indicated.”

    One might ask, “Is Scotty gone?” No, Scotty is not gone. Scotty’s God-given spirit and his endowed personal traits of love for others, generosity, and personal faith leave behind a legacy that will always be in the memories and hearts of all who knew him or were encouraged by his famous mantra of “Great Work!” As Henry Wadsworth Longfollow wrote in his poem, “A Psalm of Life”: Dust thou art, to dust returnest/Was not spoken of the soul.” Scotty’s soul is alive in Christ. He lives in spirit among us.

    “Great work!” Simple but profound, my friend!

<em>For alumni and friends of Baylor School</em> | SUMMER 2015

For alumni and friends of Baylor School | SUMMER 2015

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