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Remembering Pete Thierry

By Jeff Holt

Published in The Burg December 9, 2021

Sometimes, I like to go games as just a fan and leave all my sports writer stuff at home.

Last Friday night, I did just that at John Thiel Gymnasium. The Silver Streaks hosted a tough Moline team and the gym was packed.

Maroon guard Brock Harding, though, quickly, stole the show. He could make an average low-post player look like an all-stater, with beautiful bounce-passes to the post for easy buckets. The 6-foot Harding made one move with the ball that left me speechless. He went behind-the-back on a move to the hoop and finished with his opposite hand (like the picture above).

I was like wow!

Harding finished the night with a game-high 26 points in a 77-59 win over Galesburg. I mentioned to Silver Streak fans Troy Morrison and Tom Harrison that Harding made a move like Pistol Pete Maravich. It doesn't surprise me that The Burg sports writer John Ring also made reference to Maravich in his article above.

But this column goes out to Galesburg's own Pistol Pete - the late Pete Thierry.

Super fan Ray Pickrel - sitting in his usual spot in the front row of the gym last Friday night - took some time to reflect on Thierry before the start of the varsity game.

"We miss Pete very much," said Pickrel. "He was probably my very best friend. We never had any squabbles all the time we took trips. We met a lot of different people. I have never seen anybody who disliked Pete. He was a great man."

Continued Ray, "I could always depend on him. We'd take turns driving to ballgames. We'd even go out to golf and follow the kids out on a cart - well over 20 years with him."

I waited several months to write this column about Thierry until basketball season started. He passed away a little over a year ago on December 19, 2020.

So here goes ...

His top-10 boys basketball players were - Byron Thierry, Lawrence "Bumpy" Nixon, Joey Range, Jimmy Carr, Otis Cowan, Doug Mills, Dale Kelley, Mike Campbell, Scott Kelley and Marv Harris.

He said his nephew Byron was ahead of his time. He thought Bumpy Nixon was the best "big man" he'd ever seen at GHS, and Range was one of the all-time best.

Pete said Carr and Cowan were the best guard tandem in GHS history. The sharpshooting of Mills and the "most beautiful jumpshot ever with Dale Kelley.

And about Marv Harris ... "oh, what could have been."

Pete had over 50 years of watching Silver Streak sports in the front row and I got to know him more as a good friend. He was famous for always having those orange slices and those Red Twizzlers. He'd even give Hersey chocolates and packs of gum to the basketball teams and the Silver Streak baseball teams.

If a kid needed a new pair of shoes, Pete would also help out.

"This kid can play, Jeff," he'd say to me.

I once asked him what he would do if he won a million dollars.

His reply: "I would fix it so that no former Silver Streak athlete would ever have to pay to get into an athletic event at GHS - always been a dream of mine."

Pete had a sense of humor and he made you laugh. He'd also talk about getting his haircut for 20-plus years by Steve Abron at 427 South Henderson Street.

"The barbershop was the place to go to catch up on all the town gossip," he said. "Some fantastic lies."

Pete's top-10 for girls basketball ... Tiffany Sibley, Molly Watson, LaToya Wright, Sarah Larson, Stef Mitchell, Megan Pacheco, Amanda Guenther, Ashley Shepherd, Bonnie Apsey and Jenna Bicego. Not too bad of a list!

Pete also said - at that time - that GHS grad Kelly Ricketts would rank as the greatest female athlete to ever come out of Knox College for volleyball and basketball.

For Silver Streak football ... Pete also mentioned his top five players of all time. He put brothers E and A Kimbrough as a tie for the No. 1 spot. He said Larry Stewart was all state, All-American and tough. T.J. Stiles was the fastest man he ever saw on the football field and Fred Ripple was just a tremendous football player. Last but not least ... he mentioned Mark Reed as the best quarterback to have ever played at GHS.

Looking back on Pete, I probably didn't quite have it in me to write a big column right after he passed away a year ago. Pete would have loved to have seen that Moline-Galesburg game last Friday night even though the Streaks lost.

But I'm sure he was looking down on it all and watching that rim-to-rim action.

Point to ponder: Pete said his proudest moment of his life was when it was posted on the gym wall that he made the Galesburg Silver Streak basketball team.

That's awesome!

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