Catawba College Alumnus Larry Beightol '64 of Fayetteville, Ark., wanted to do something special for his friend of close to 50 years, Charlie Little '64 of Salisbury, and he knew it had to be something to do with Catawba College. It was Catawba College after all that cemented Beightol's friendship with Little, a friendship that was born back in their home state of Pennsylvania.
Beightol and his wife, Marian '66, decided to establish a scholarship at the College in honor of Little. Preference for the Charles E. Little Scholarship Fund will be given to an offensive lineman of good character, ability and team leadership, in short, a student who exhibits many of the same qualities Beightol's friend did when he was a student athlete at Catawba.
"The reason we are doing this is that Charlie does so much for the school and for the athletic teams that I felt like somebody needed to stand up for him," Beightol said. "He's done so much for football and the Chief's Club, which takes care of all of Catawba's athletic teams, and he's been a dear friend for well over 40 years.
"We are from the same area of Pennsylvania and played in the East-West Pennsylvania All-Star Game together. We were in same [graduating] class, had many of the same friends, we loved our coaches, and we love Catawba."
Beightol describes Little like this: "He's a big old bear of a guy, but he has the heart of a lion – he wants to help and give. He's a terrific, terrific person."
Ask Charlie Little what he has to say about the scholarship established in his honor and he grows quiet. He is a modest man, more comfortable with the focus placed on others, rather than on him. He simply says news of the scholarship made him feel "very humble." But stop talking scholarship and start talking about football and his fellow players and friends, and Little is his normal talkative self, explains his wife, Phyllis '66.
Larry Beightol and Charlie Little were two of a half dozen young men from western Pennsylvania who saw football and the college education it allowed them to pursue as a way to stay out of the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania. Although their hometowns were only 50 miles apart, they dreamed similar dreams as high school football players -- Beightol hailed from Windburne, Pa., while Altoona, Pa., was Little's hometown. Both Beightol and Little were recruited to play lineman at Catawba and their team was the only group that won a conference championship in the 1960s.
"Catawba's a wonderful place, I mean to tell you," Beightol explains. "I loved my teammates and loved my coaches – Stratton, Moir and Maphis – all men of great character whom we idolized. And I love the guys I played football with – Bucky Pope '64, Bill McDevitt '64, Ron Nicewonger '64, Charlie Little '64, Bryan Applefield
'66, Roy Diviney '64, Butch Moore '64; Andy Peretin '64; Charlie Belcher '64; Joe Zapotoczny '64, Gene Appler '65 and David "Soupy" Campbell '66."
Both Little and Beightol came to Catawba on scholarships, earned degrees, enjoyed successful careers, married North Carolina girls, and are now enjoying retirement. Little, who majored in physical education, spent a long and productive teaching and coaching career, mostly at Salisbury and Burlington Williams High Schools. Beightol enjoyed a long and productive career working first as a college football coach at William and Mary, North Carolina State University and Arkansas, and then later in the NFL as an offensive line coach with the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins, the Houston Oilers, the Green Bay Packers, the San Diego Chargers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Detroit Lions.
"When you get into the coaching business, especially in college," Beightol noted, "there's a lot of travel and it does take away from your family sometime because you're moving. My wife Marian and my daughter, Kristin, supported me with the moves. Marian also managed to have her own successful teaching career, teaching students in six different states. I call the NFL the "not for long league," but I feel like the 23 years I had there was a good run."
Although Beightol and his wife return to Salisbury for Catawba home games as often as they can, they know their good friends Charlie Little and wife Phyllis are keeping tabs on everything Catawba in their absence. Little started the Catawba's Gridiron Club which assists in non-budgeted projects for football; he was one of four individuals who spearheaded a grassroots effort to raise funds to light the renovated Shuford Stadium; and he assists in the painting of the Catawba "C" on the field before each home football game.
"What you have with Larry and Charlie is a wonderful example of a Catawba friendship that has withstood the test of time," explained Catawba Senior Vice President Tom Childress. "The scholarship Larry and Marian established not only honors Charlie, but makes sure that there's a Charlie in Catawba's future who will also have a chance to pursue a college education while playing their beloved game of football."