- Cullman, Alabama

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January 12, 2014

LOCAL SPORTS: Longtime Seminole Reddick reflects on Florida State playing days

CULLMAN — They don’t make ’em quite like Ernie Reddick anymore.

The Florida native — and now-permament Cullman resident — has led quite a fulfilling life over the course of 85 years.

Although Reddick will quietly and humbly tell anyone who asks he’s traversed a rather “simple life,” a closer look into the claim would likely convince anyone otherwise.

In fact, one thing Reddick can hang his hat on is something all boys who grow up in sleepy towns across the country dream about on a nightly basis.

That dream?

Playing college football.

Reddick, however, wasn’t your typical gridiron warrior growing up. He was a player on one of Florida State’s very first football teams from 1948-1949 — and has been a Seminole at heart ever since he graduated from the Tallahassee-based university.

But to really know Reddick, you’d have to start all the way at the beginning.

After graduating high school in 1946, Reddick enrolled at Emory Junior College in Valdosta, Ga. He spent four quarters there before transferring to Florida State in January of 1948.

The university had previously only admitted female students but evolved to include males following the end of World War II to ensure returning veterans a chance at an education.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life.

It was there he met his wife, Joan, through mutual friends while working at a small student cafè called the Sweet Shop and, in July, they will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary together.

Shortly after their ceremony in 1950, Reddick and his wife took to Guantanamo Bay as civilian employees for two years. He served as an athletic director and math teacher, while Joan was a do-it-all elementary teacher for the dependent school on the premises.

Upon his return, he spent two years based in Jacksonville in the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Unit.

In 1957, Reddick was tasked with managing the newly opened King Edward Cigar Plant in Cullman. He spent 25 years at the plant before closing its doors in 1982. He then returned to Jacksonville, Fla., where he worked for nine more years.

Reddick retired in 1991 and has lived in Cullman ever since. He was elected into the Cullman Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 for his wonderful work as a coach, referee, umpire and official.

Despite the many years that have passed, Reddick hasn’t forgotten the joy and fulfillment his days with Florida State brought him over those two seasons.

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