Emmett Boyd Wilbanks, 77, of Commerce died Nov. 24, 2011, at home with his family by his side.
He was born Dec. 2, 1933, in Linden to Guy and Ellen Wilbanks. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Commerce and the Adult III Men’s Sunday School class. He was a 32nd Degree Mason and a Shriner. He retired from the Cotton Belt Railroad where he was a brakeman. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and sportsman.
In particular, he lived and loved football and played with some of the big league names of the times (before they became famous). Emmett graduated from Linden High School in 1952 and was named to All-District twice and All-State teams while playing for the Tigers. He then joined the Air Force and played for the Rhine Maine Rockets in Germany where he earned the Outstanding Lineman trophy. He attended Texarkana Junior College and played for the Texarkana Bulldogs and was named the Junior College Little All American and named “one of the best linemen in Texas” by the Dallas Morning News. He finished out his college football career with the East Texas State College Lions (now Texas A&M University-Commerce). Emmett played college football with fellow Lions Jon Gilliam (played in first Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs), and Durwood Merrill (major league baseball umpire).
In the mid 1960s he, along with Richard Colby and Jim Chambers, bought the franchise and founded the Texarkana Titans semi-pro football team where he continued to play as center and guard for several years.
Football was not Emmett’s only sport of choice. He also played first base and catcher for Day & Zimmerman’s (D&Z) men’s fast-pitch softball in the 1960s, He later umpired boy’s little league, pony league, high school and college baseball with the Southern Umpire’s Baseball Association in and around Texarkana, well into the 1980s, along with former football teammate Durwood Merrill.
Emmett is survived by his wife, Ann Wilbanks (they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August 2010); his children, Kim and Jon Cartier of Greenville, Kevin Wilbanks of Dallas, Chris and Jody McCollom of Double Oak, and Pennye West-Laflore of Mesquite; grandchildren Alex Cartier of Greenville, K.C. and Laura West of Forney, C.J. and Jill West of Mesquite and Chance West of Mesquite; great-grandchildren K.C., Kayle and Colby West of Forney, and Tina and Logan West of Mesquite; sisters Mildred “Jack” Surratt and Margie Elliott of Linden and Myrtle Sample of Pittsburg, Texas; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Guy and Ellen Wilbanks; three brothers, Welton Wilbanks, Guy Edward Wilbanks and Oneal Wilbanks; and two sisters, Frances Wilbanks and Elizabeth Vaughan.
Funeral services were at 2 p.m., Nov. 27, at the First Baptist Church in Commerce with the Rev. Johnnie Henderson and the Rev. Michael Ryer officiating. Burial was in Rosemound Cemetery in Commerce.
Jones-Walker and Son Funeral Home of Commerce was in charge of arrangements.
Pallbearers were nephews from East Texas, Guy J. Wilbanks, Austin Wilbanks, Todd Elliott, Tracey Elliott, Greg Boles, Gary Boles, Darrell Vaughan and Dale Sample. Honorary pallbearers were a group of fisherman from Commerce — Ron Johnson, Ernest Hawkins, James Rhodes, Roger Arnold and Larry Towne.
Online condolences may be made at www.jones-walkerandson.com or www.commercejournal.com.
Published on  December 1, 2011