“A Laker to the bone” Reflecting on the legacy of Flash Wilson

It says something about who you are when people know you by one name.

That couldn’t be more true right here in Russell County for the man that was known by everyone as Flash.

Larry “Flash” Wilson passed away early Thursday morning at a Lexington hospital, leaving a community mourning the loss of a man who impacted a number of lives.

Flash was something of a legend around the Russell County athletics community. Flash was actively involved with Russell County Athletics for nearly 50 years, starting in the early 1970s, and his passion, dedication, and loyalty were second to none.

“There are very few people who have been around the sports programs that long,” Russell County Lakers Baseball Coach David Rexroat said. “He was always there for us when it came to athletics.”

“Everyone knew Flash,” Keith Ellis said. “You mention Flash though, and anyone within 10 counties would know who you’re talking about. He was just always around. Flash was simply a Laker to the bone. He was a Laker through and through.”

Ellis has coached a number of sports through the years and has served as athletic director within the school district, and said Flash’s servant attitude is something that never went unnoticed.

“You’re not going to beat him in dedication and support,” Ellis said. “He had a servant attitude that made him such a special person.”

“He always wanted to help out and always wanted to know what he could do to contribute,” Ellis said. “He’s always been a big help to everyone. We talk about people being supportive, but his dedication went way past support.

Whether it was video recording, keeping a shot chart or stat book, running a clock or scoreboard, or setting up benches and getting ice before a game, Flash was someone that could be relied on to do whatever was needed and be glad to do so.

“It didn’t matter,” Ellis said. “Whatever you needed him to do, he would do it. He was as dependable as they come. You never had to worry when it was game day and there was a checklist of things to get done because Flash would take any part of that checklist and get it done. That always meant a lot. Having someone who is willing to do whatever is needed to help out is just invaluable.”

“You never had to worry about having someone who could work the scoreboard or keep the book or announce games,” Rexroat said. “You just knew he was here and could do it and do a really good job with it.”

Flash was a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats and the Cincinnati Reds. However, nothing else matched his passion for the Russell County Lakers.

“He liked those teams,” Ellis said. “But he loved the Russell County Lakers. You just don’t see people with that level of dedication. He was just a special guy in a lot of ways and he’s going to be sadly missed. I admire him greatly.”

“Flash was one of those guys who just absolutely loved Laker athletics,” Russell County High School Athletic Director Michael Carpenter said. “He was always willing to go above and beyond to do whatever he could.”

And while some people have their favorite sports, Flash was special in that he was a fan of every sport the Lakers participated in.

“He loved everything about Russell County athletics,” Ellis said. “Whether it was basketball, football, softball, baseball, swimming, whatever it was. Flash was the biggest fan.”

“It didn’t matter the season,” Carpenter added. “It was all the sports. He wanted to be involved with all of them.”

Rexroat added that beyond his love for sports, Flash loved being around people.

“If it was football season, Flash was excited about that, and when basketball rolled around, he was right there, and then baseball,” Rexroat said. “It was just a cycle for him. He loved the sports, but more so he loved the people who were around those sports. He loved all the coaches, the players, the families. We’d talk a lot about all the various players throughout the years. That was his passion. At the end of the day, he just loved those kids.”

His dedication to Laker athletics led the school district to name its mascot after him. “Larry the Laker” was introduced in 2017 with a ceremony that Flash attended. Carpenter said that was one of his favorite memories with Flash.

“He was really excited when we brought that out because he knew it was named in honor of him,” Carpenter said. “That was a really exciting moment for him and I’m glad we were able to do that.”

Larry “Flash” Wilson poses for a picture with the Russell County mascot, named Larry the Laker in his honor. Photo courtesy of Russell County Schools.

Flash was a huge fan of each of the student-athletes too, and his support was something that truly made a difference for many student-athletes who came through Russell County.

“He was definitely their biggest cheerleader,” Ellis said. “It didn’t matter if they played well or played poorly, he was always right there for them. I had four kids who played at Russell County in all different sports, and he was always their biggest cheerleader. It didn’t matter what the team’s record was or whether you were winning or losing, he was right there and I believe that made a big difference for a lot of kids.

A lot of times we evaluate them on how good they are or how good the team is. To Flash, it didn’t matter. If you were a Laker, no matter the sport, Flash was all about it. He was going to support you and cheer for you. That meant a lot to people.”

“He cared about all the kids tremendously,” Carpenter said. “He just loved every Laker student-athlete. He was as loyal and dedicated to all the student-athletes as one could be. It didn’t matter if they were a student-athlete that excelled or not.”

Carpenter said Flash’s dedication extended beyond Russell County as he would continue to follow student-athletes who played at the collegiate level.

“He would try to go watch those kids play at the collegiate level,” Carpenter said. “He wanted to make sure to support them even after they graduated.”

“He was like an encyclopedia in a lot of ways,” Rexroat said. “He knew everyone it seemed like, and the way he kept up with those players after they graduated, even if they didn’t play sports, he knew where those people ended up with their careers.”

And Flash’s recognizability extended outside of Russell County. He was known state-wide.

“You could go into about any sporting event in this state, and if you went in with Flash, he probably knew more people there than just about anybody,” Carpenter said.

Outside of sports, Flash played a role in his church at Welfare Baptist. Carpenter said he attended church with Flash growing up and had fond memories of Flash giving the morning announcements on Sunday mornings and leading prayers.

“He always played a role in the church,” Carpenter said. “He would lead everyone in prayer. He was someone that hardly ever missed church and he was always inviting people to come.”

Rexroat said he and Flash often had conversations, usually catching up on how the Reds were doing or a variety of topics that would come up.

“I consider him a true friend,” Rexroat said. “He cared a lot about other people and that’s really the bottom line. He just cared about everybody.”

The man known as Flash left behind an incredible legacy that will continue to live on through the memories of those who were lucky enough to know him.

“It’s truly a sad day for Russell County,” Rexroat said. “This hits hard for a lot of people.”

*** Funeral arrangements for Larry “Flash” Wilson are not complete at this time. We will release those arrangements when they are made available.

About Zac Oakes 5417 Articles
Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.