A well-known 88-year-old Gilmer man died in a Longview hospital late Tuesday of injuries suffered in a broadside auto-pickup collision in rural Gregg County near Longview that evening, said the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Earnest (Sonny) Hamberlin was pronounced dead by a staff doctor at Longview Regional Medical Center at 11:07 p.m., the DPS said.
Hamberlin was a passenger in a 2009 Kia Rio driven by 82-year-old Longview resident Ophelia Warrick, who was taken to the hospital with minor abrasions and contusions, the DPS said. Driver of the 2002 Dodge Ram pickup, 24-year-old Stephen Rowe of Longview, escaped injury, the department said.
The 10:33 p.m. accident occurred when Ms. Warrick stopped, attempted a left turn from U.S. 259 onto Henderson Lane, and pulled in front of the oncoming pickup, the DPS said.
Hamberlin was wearing a seat belt, but the department’s report on the accident did not show which direction the respective vehicles were traveling, a DPS spokeswoman in Tyler said.
Gregg County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Chuck Willeford said the intersection where the crash happened is less than a mile north of Longview city limits. DPS Trooper Robbie Dillard investigated the accident.
Hamberlin, a retired dairy farmer, was quarterback of the 1941 Gilmer Buckeyes High School football team, which went 12-0 and surrendered only six points all season in winning its regional championship, the highest honor attainable then.
Teammate Joe Blount, who went on to become a head football coach at several East Texas high schools in the 1950s and 1960s, recalled Hamberlin on Wednesday as “the most honest, mannerly, polite, respectful person you would ever meet.”
In a phone conversation they had just three months ago, Blount said, Hamberlin was able to recall exact details of the winning touchdown pass the then-quarterback threw to Ray Reid in Gilmer’s 7-0 bi-district win over Van during that season nearly 72 years ago.
Not only did Hamberlin remember “what pass pattern it was,” but “He said, ‘You know, I had all day to throw that ball,’ ” said Blount, now 88 and of Diana. Blount played defensive tackle and end on the late Coach Leonard Pickitt’s 1941 team.
Hamberlin went on to coach Pee Wee boys’ baseball in Gilmer in the 1960s. His graveside service was held Friday morning at Sunset Memorial Park in Gilmer under direction of Croley Funeral Home.