The quarterback of the Young Thundering Herd back in 1971, Reggie Oliver, recently passed away this past Tuesday at 66 years of age.
Marshall athletics issued a release on the passing of Oliver Tuesday evening. They extended their sympathies to the friends and family of Reggie. The statement went on to say how he was one of the true Marshall legends and the entire Thundering Herd family will feel his absence.
Oliver went to the hospital in Huntsville Alabama, last week. He had suffered a severe head injury during a fall.
Friday saw the Marshall community come together at the Marshall Memorial Fountain by the Memorial Student Center. Those gathered held a candlelight vigil for Oliver including the athletics staff from Marshall, the head coach, Doc Holliday, along with the entire football team.
Mike Hamrick, Marshall athletic director also gave his condolences to Oliver’s passing, saying it didn’t seem fair.
Holliday learned about the passing of Oliver after the team’s session on Tuesday.
Holliday thought back to his time with Oliver, saying he was a great guy and Son of Marshall. He had done so much for the program in a variety of ways.
Vigil for Reggie Oliver Honors His Memory and All He’s Done for the Herd
The vigil was held at the same fountain Oliver gave a powerful speech back in April to the Marshall patrons during the annual Spring Foundation Celebration. There, they turned the fountain on just before the annual Green-White Spring Scrimmage.
Holliday said Oliver’s passion was evident the moment the players first met him. Holliday reflects that no matter what was going on, he always seemed to have a smile and a positive attitude. Each word he spoke had so much passion no matter what the subject.
Tim Stephens of the Herald-Dispatch fondly remembered the white suit and green tie Oliver had worn that evening. During the event, he had sung the 1970 hit “Patches” by Clarence Carter. The song told the story of a boy raised in poverty in Alabama.
Oliver had recalled people telling him not to go to Marshall; otherwise, he would be made a wide receiver.
Not only did Oliver become the Young Thundering Herd’s quarterback, but he also went on to become an influential icon of the program.
Back at the end of September of 1971, Reggie Oliver connected with fullback Terry Gardner on a 213 Bootleg Screenplay for a 13-yard touchdown on the final play of the game as Marshal upset Xavier 15-13. The Fairfield Stadium in Huntington housed an estimated 13,000 fans that evening. This game was the first home game since the 1970 Marshall plane crash of Southern Airways Flight 932 for the Herd.
Since then, Oliver worked as an assistant coach for the Herd alongside Sonny Randle. Oliver also helped at Huntington High as a teacher. Later, the quarterback moved to Columbus but needed to return to Alabama to care for his mother recently.