OBITUARY: Danny Tharpe, 78, Passes Away Nov. 20, Among Brevard’s Greatest Athletes

By  //  November 27, 2020

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Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee

ABOVE VIDEO: One of the most versatile and greatest all-around athletes in the history of Brevard and of the state of Florida, during Danny Tharpe’s four years as a Cocoa High Tiger, he earned 15 varsity letters, leading to his induction into the Florida High School Activities Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Danny Tharpe, 78, passed away at his home in New Boston, Texas, on Friday, November 20, 2020, surrounded by his family.

Danny was born September 3, 1942, in Claxton Georgia, the third son of the late Willie and Myrt Tharpe. He was the youngest of seven children, all graduating from Cocoa High School.

Danny was an exceptional athlete and coach being inducted into five Hall of Fames in Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

He was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

He led Cocoa High School to their first state basketball title, led Western Carolina University’s basketball team to runners up in the NAIA Championship and is known as the university’s “greatest” all-around athlete in the school’s history since he was a starter on their basketball, football, baseball and tennis teams.

At Cocoa High School,  he received 15 varsity sports letters, was named to Florida’s football all-state team, plus played baseball and tennis.

Danny is survived by his wife, Reb; sons Danny Jr, Jimmy, Chad, and Colt; daughter Candice; sisters Charlotte and Sue; brother Roy; Nine grandchildren; many nieces and nephews and first wife Janet Sewell.

He was predeceased by his parents; sisters Ouida and Bobbie; brother Willie and daughter Tammy; plus many cousins.

As an athlete, teacher and coach, Danny told his brother Roy that his greatest accomplishment was helping kids, students and adults.

He was very proud of his Little Dribblers basketball program and his famed Tharpoletes in Florida and Texas.

A celebration of life will be held in Texas and Florida at a future date.

Danny Tharpe, 78, passed away at his home in New Boston, Texas, on Friday, November 20, 2020, surrounded by his family. One of the most versatile and greatest all-around athletes in the history of Brevard and of the state of Florida, during his four years as a Cocoa High Tiger, he earned 15 varsity letters, leading to his induction into the Florida High School Activities Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

ACCOMPLISHED IN MANY SPORTS

Sports legend Daniel Tharpe set the bar very high when it comes to high school sports in Brevard County.

Danny Tharpe is a member of the FHSAA Hall of Fame, was s high school All-American and earned 15 high school varsity letters.

Tharpe’s performance and records in multiple sports will always be remembered in Brevard County and at Cocoa High School. And to this day, some of those records are yet to be broken.

Danny Tharpe received no less than 15 varsity letters, leading to his induction into the Florida High School Activities Hall of Fame.
Danny Tharpe received 15 varsity letters, leading to his induction into the Florida High School Activities and Space Coast Sports Hall of Fames.

Most of the people who remember Tharpe from his playing days want to talk basketball as Tharpe, as a 6-foot guard, led Cocoa High School to a 1960 state basketball championship, but Tharpe was incredibly accomplished in many sports.

One of the most versatile and greatest all-around athletes in the history of Brevard and of the state of Florida, during Tharpe’s four years as a Cocoa High Tiger, he received 15 varsity letters, leading to his induction into the Florida High School Activities Hall of Fame.

He earned a four year basketball scholarship to Western Carolina University where he was inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 after he started in four sports and was chosen as the greatest athlete in WCU history. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports)
Danny Tharpe earned a four-year basketball scholarship to Western Carolina University where he was inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 after he started in four sports and was chosen as the greatest athlete in WCU history. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

ALL-STATE FOOTBALL, 12 NO-HITTERS

A four-year starter in basketball as a point guard, Tharpe was a two-time First Team All-State selection, and in his senior year was an All-American.

Tharpe still holds the school, county, conference and state records for the best free throw percentage, consecutive made, career made and his state tournament record percentage of 100 percent (29 for 29) has never been equaled.

As a four-year starting pitcher and second baseman, Tharpe threw two perfect games – one in which he struck out every batter in the game against Melbourne – and tossed a combined 12 no-hitters in his junior and senior seasons, eventually being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in his senior year.

He was a two-year starter in football, earning All-State honors as a senior, playing both offense and defense.

In tennis, Tharpe was the number one singles and doubles player for four years, winning 71 straight and never losing a match except in doubles where he went 70 and 1. Tharpe was ranked in the top 25 nationally in tennis for three years.

As a four year starter in basketball at point guard, Tharpe led the Catamounts to three 20 win seasons, a Carolina’s conference championship, and the championship game in the 1963 NAIA National Tournament. He averaged in double figures in all four seasons. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports)
As a four year starter in basketball at point guard, Danny Tharpe led the Catamounts to three 20 win seasons, Carolina’s conference championship, and the championship game in the 1963 NAIA National Tournament. He averaged in double figures in all four seasons. (Image for Space Coast Daily)

GREATEST ATHLETE IN WCU HISTORY

He earned a four-year basketball scholarship to Western Carolina University where he was inducted into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 after he started in four sports and was chosen as the greatest athlete in WCU history.

As a four year starter in basketball at point guard, Tharpe led the Catamounts to three 20 win seasons, a Carolina Conference championship, and the championship game in the 1963 NAIA National Tournament. He averaged in double figures in all four seasons.

He was a regular on the WCU tennis team for two seasons, led the 1964 baseball team in hitting, started at linebacker for the 1964 football team before suffering a mid-season injury. Tharpe also excelled in the classroom with a 3.0-grade point average, double majoring in biology and physical education.

YOUTH, HIGH SCHOOL & COLLEGE COACH

After leaving WCU, Tharpe gave back to the Brevard community where he coached basketball and tennis at Cocoa High from 1965 to 1969 and started the first “Little Dribbler” League for children 6-12 years of age in Brevard County.

Tharpe later returned to WCU where he became an assistant coach and then a coach at East Texas State.

Danny Tharpe’s athletic accomplishments are legendary and he is undeniably one of the greatest all-round athletes in the history of Brevard County.

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