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Ervin Kulbeth: Fate at the Carlisle City Café

2013 Honorary Alumni Ervin Kulbeth with two All-State Bison football players, Phil Petrus and Tom Ed Gooden
2013 Honorary Alumni Ervin Kulbeth with two All-State Bison football players, Phil Petrus and Tom Ed Gooden

Ervin Kulbeth finished high school in Warren in 1955 and then headed to Arkansas A&M in Monticello.

After finishing his education degree, Kulbeth was hired at Hazen High School as its football coach. His superintendent at Hazen was Howard Miller. When Mr. Miller left Hazen to become superintendent at Strong High School, he took Kulbeth with him.

One day on a drive back to Hazen from Strong, Ervin stopped in at the City Café in downtown Carlisle. He ran into Dr. Bob Inman, the local dentist, who told Ervin that the football job, as well as the superintendent’s job, was coming open in Carlisle. Kulbeth and Miller both applied for their respective positions and came to Carlisle in 1966.

While at Carlisle, Coach Kulbeth oversaw tremendous successes in the athletic programs. In recalling his time here, he says that he feels he was at the right place at the right time. There were Lonoke County Championships and District Championships in both football and track. Several All-State football players came out of Coach Kulbeth’s program and one of his players, Tom Ed Gooden, continued his career as an All-American at Harding University.

Coach Kulbeth said, “To compete for a conference or district championship, you had to beat Carlisle. When we played Cabot, we’d have a car caravan that included almost everyone in town to follow the team. We had some great athletes, but the community was the supporting cast to all of our successes. My assistants, Joe Gasaway, Bob Mathis, Joe Carden and Bill Johnson couldn’t have been better.”

While racking up victories as coach of the Bison, Kulbeth was travelling with Raymond H. Brown to night classes in Little Rock to receive his administration certification. Soon, an opportunity to move into administration became available at Hazen High School and Coach Kulbeth left Carlisle to be their high school principal. He continued his career after Hazen High School at Lonoke Middle School and as Superintendent of St. Charles schools.

When St. Charles consolidated with DeWitt in 1980, the Kulbeth family returned to Carlisle for son Donnie to finish school as a Bison. Coach Kulbeth had retired from education at this point and worked for Edward Brandt at Brandt Manufacturing. Coach Kulbeth says without hesitation that of all the places he’s lived and worked, Carlisle is, by far, the best. It’s a special place. Coach Kulbeth currently lives in Hot Springs Village with his wife Liz. His daughter Debbie lives in Stuttgart and son Donnie, ’84, lives in Conway. He has four grandchildren.

For his dedication to the students and athletes of Carlisle School the Carlisle High School Alumni Association is pleased to name Coach Ervin Kulbeth an Honorary Alumni of Carlisle High School. Coach Kulbeth will be recognized during homecoming weekend, October 11-12.

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