DECATUR, Ala. - A north Alabama sports legend was laid to rest Thursday. William "Junior" Vaughn, Jr. died last Saturday. He was 73. Junior Vaughn grew up on Cherry Street in Decatur. He graduated from Lakeside High School. That's where his love of sports prepared him for what was down the road.
Outside the Westside Missionary Baptist Church Thursday, Junior Vaughn's family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of the man they all knew and loved. "And even though he was of short stature, he had a big heart," childhood friend Adolphus Elliott, Sr. remembered. "And a big desire to achieve and he accomplished an awful lot. And he did just that.
He took his athletic skills from high school on the road. After graduating in 1961, he played baseball for the Indianapolis Clowns in the Negro League. An injury ended his time on the diamond but not his love of another sport where he excelled.
"Very good running back, fast, smart, strong runner," Floyd Jones remarked. Floyd was an offensive tackle on the line and and blocked for Junior Vaughn when they played for the Decatur Rough Riders, a semi-professional football team. "He didn't back down from anybody, a fun loving guy, really good person," Floyd said. "Enjoyed playing with him down through the years." The Rough Rider had a record of 66-2.
Junior Vaughn was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. It was a fitting tribute to a man who loved sports and his community. "He lived a full life, I mean a full life." Adolphus said. "He was involved in so much and touched so many other lives." That included the young men he coached during 22 years in the Pop Warner football League. "I'm going to truly miss him," Floyd added.
One thing we heard over and over before Junior Vaughn's celebration of life took place, he brought a lot of pride to Decatur. He was admired and loved by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Shirley and the rest of the family.