Charlie Severance is remembered among University of Tennessee football fans for helping keep Billy Cannon of LSU out of the end zone in the famous 1959 two-point play known as "The Stop."
The Knoxville resident, on the other hand, has not had any trouble getting into a few equally important places through his athletic and work accomplishments.
The latest is the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, in which he will be inducted on Aug. 23 as a 2012 inductee.
"That's probably one of the greatest honors I've ever had," he said recently. "It's wonderful to be in there with a select group. I was truly blessed to wear orange and I had a good career at UT."
Severance had been a standout football player for Tennessee after playing at Central High School until a staph infection forced him to forego his senior season at UT in 1961.
But that did not slow him down athletically, as he went on to enjoy successful local softball and amateur golf careers that also contributed to his Hall of Fame selection.
In softball, he once hit 40 home runs in a season, while in golf, he won the Beaver Brook Invitational twice, was a Beaver Brook club champion, and even led the old Knoxville Open one year.
He also won five driving championships and had five holes-in-one during his career.
"My daddy (Don) was a member of Holston Hills Country Club and I started playing when I was 10 to 12 years old," the 72-year-old Severance recalled. "There were five boys my age and we'd go out and play."
Severance had actually pondered being a rare participant in both golf and football at UT, but he end
ed up marrying his wife, Phyllis, in 1959. As a result, marital duties started taking up much of his time.
But he did sometimes combine the two sports in a unique manner at UT, including hitting a golf ball out of what is now Neyland Stadium.
Severance had been involved in a variety of sports growing up in Knoxville. Besides football and golf, he also played baseball and remembers being shuttled back and forth from Boy Scout camp one year to pitch in Little League games in Fountain City. He also took part in swimming and diving.
What helped him early on in all his sports was his strength, he said. His father had been a city handball champion and had a 50-pound steel bar to keep his arms strong, so Severance began working out with it. He also lifted weights regularly while working at the YMCA in college.
"I got into weightlifting," he said. "I weighed 195 pounds and I could clean and press 200 pounds. I was pretty strong."
He also was known for having a strong presence of mind on the football field. When the Vols played defending national champion LSU at home on Nov. 7, 1959, he provided the initial hit on Cannon on the two-point play, and Bill Majors and Wayne Grubb also made key hits to help stop that year's Heisman Trophy winner just short of the goal line.
"He (Cannon) lined up on the weak side and took the handoff on the strong side," Severance recalled of the play that was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. "I just moved up as a linebacker and was at the right place at the right time."
The Vols under coach Bowden Wyatt went on to win the game, 14-13, in an upset.
Severance also rubbed shoulders with another SEC legend — Alabama coach Paul 'Bear" Bryant. But it was in a much friendlier manner after Severance made some good defensive plays in a 7-7 tie against the Crimson Tide at Birmingham's Legion Field earlier in the 1959 season.
"Bear Bryant came up and put his arm around me and told me what a good game I played," he said, cherishing the memory.
Severance believes that UT football players in those days were even more local celebrities than today and had plenty of positive interaction with the public. He also remembers all the camaraderie the team had.
Severance has gone on to enjoy a diverse business career in sales and other work and also served in the Tennessee General Assembly as a state representative, never missing a vote or meeting in 14 years.
He later became assistant commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Conservation and Environment in the 1990s. In that position, he had a chance to meet another "bear" — "Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus — when the state was developing the Bear Trace golf courses.
But Vols are those with whom he most enjoys associating. He has continued to stay connected with UT as a member of the Letterman's Club board and has not forgotten all the opportunities he received.
"I was blessed to play for the Orange," he said. "I was also blessed to play in front of hometown people and I was blessed to be involved in that play against Billy Cannon."
John Shearer is a freelance contributor.