Coach Wes Shifflet gone but not forgotten; memorial service set for June 5 at Little League Park
He was a big guy with an even bigger heart.
Destin’s Wes Shifflet, known to most as just Coach Wes, died May 21 at the age of 75.
A memorial service for Coach Wes will be at Dalton Threadgill Little League Park in Destin at 6 p.m. June 5. Everyone is invited to attend.
There is also a GoFundMe page to help provide for those family members left behind.
Shifflet wore several hats with the Destin Little League across a span of 40 or more years — from coach to league president to umpire.
He coached against and alongside Bill Shirah for a number of years.
“We had a good time together,” Shirah said. “I always let him take care of the pitching and I took care of the hitting.
“He trusted me and I trusted him. We were in it for the kids,” he added.
Prior to joining up with Shirah to coach the Capt. Dave’s team and later Destin Bank, Shifflet coached the American Legion and LJ Henderson Construction.
Cliff Atwell, now a boat captain, played for Coach Wes in 1976 on the LJ Henderson Construction team.
“He was one of the best coaches that ever coached me,” Atwell said. “He was always willing to spend some extra one-on-one time coaching and helping any player he saw needed a little extra coaching. He would spend time with the best players as well as the ones with the least ability. Always encouraging no matter how good or how bad you were.
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“He would greet us with ‘Hey gang. What do ya say? What do ya say? We ready to play?’,” Atwell said.
Tommy Lee Browning, who played on the American Legion team in the '70s, described Shifflet as the “most patient and kindest coach.”
“He played everybody, whether you were good or not so good. And I was one of the not so good,” Browning said.
Shifflet’s oldest daughter, Candy Shifflet-Houser said, “He loved his years in Little League. He loved them as much as he loved his own kids.”
Wes and Judie Shifflet had four children: Candy, Cheryl, Kim and Kurt.
“He had such a big heart. He was the most giving and selfless man. He’d give you anything … and never asked for recognition,” Candy said.
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Candy said she’ll remember his laugh and big hands. “He would help anybody with those big hands and big heart.
“He was such a community guy … and loved by so many,” she added.
Dennis Lawson, who coached against and with Shifflet, as well as umpired with him, called him a friend and brother.
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“If I ever asked him for help with something, he was right there,” Lawson said, noting their friendship dated back to 1980.
“And when I needed an attitude adjustment, he gave me one,” he added.
Shifflet never seemed to have a bad day, and if you did, he could make you forget it, Lawson said.
“He had that type of personality that could make you forget about your problems just with his chuckle and laughter,” he added.
Rick Moore also played for Coach Wes on the American Legion team back in the day.
“He coached so many boys. He was dedicated to the kids and coaching,” Moore said.
Moore said Coach Wes even coached his son.
“Just a lot of Destin people played for him,” he said, which was evident from all the Facebook posts after his passing.
One of the things Moore said he remembers most about Coach Wes was him always sitting on a bucket and him wearing suspenders.
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“Even during batting practice, he was sitting on a bucket,” Moore said. “He would come in from work, grab a bucket of balls and we’d start practicing.
“I never heard him cuss, I never heard him talk mean. … He was a tough coach, don’t get me wrong, but he never was disrespectful to the players or anybody. Even in my adult years, I never heard him be disrespectful. He was just a good all around man.
“Destin was blessed to have him as a mentor to the young men,” Moore said.