After 36 years as a teacher, coach and administrator — including 26 at Lonoke — Phynaus Wilson is retiring at the end of the month.
Wilson came to Lonoke in the fall of 1987 as boys basketball coach and driver’s education teacher. Prior to that, he coached football and basketball at Clarendon for 10 years.
At Lonoke, he was an assistant football coach for nine years, eventually becoming an assistant principal at the junior high/middle school for six years before becoming head principal at the middle school for one year. During his tenure at Lonoke, Wilson also served as athletic director on two separate occasions.
The previous 11 years, Wilson has been principal at LHS.
“You don’t want to grow too old in this business,” Wilson said Monday. “It takes a lot of energy to be a high school principal. A lot of patience. A lot of late nights. A lot of events. It’s not an old man’s job. I’ve already done it longer than I thought I would in the beginning. It’s time to do something else.”
Wilson said he loves Lonoke High School.
“I’ll miss the kids, the staff … I love the people here,” he said. “I’ll still come to some ball games but it will be in a different role. I’ll be sitting in the corner, out of the way.
“I had a great experience with the adults and the students here in this district.”
Wilson said the students responded well to him as principal.
“I enjoyed going out to duty at lunchtime,” he said. “I’ll miss interacting with them.”
Wilson said he thought about getting into administration in the early 1990s and started work on his master’s degree from the University of Central Arkansas.
“You don’t want to grow old coaching high school either,” he said. “I know some guys do very well at it. You reach a point where you want to do something else and give it to the younger guys.”
Wilson left coaching following the 1997 season when his Jackrabbits lost to Clarksville in the championship game of the Class AAA state tournament at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
“The opportunity came and I got out,” he said. “I did coaching and assistant principal one year (1996-97). It was very difficult, very taxing to do justice to both. I got out at the right time.”
During Wilson’s tenure at LHS, he led the move from the old high school to the new facility, which just finished it’s second year of existence.
“This gave our kids a much nicer place to go to school,” Wilson said. “I think our kids are as good as any in the world. They deserve this building. They have adjusted very well to it.”
Wilson said there isn’t graffiti on the walls in the new school.
“You don’t see where they have torn up stuff,” he said. “They appreciate it. We tell them that in grade-level meetings but that’s not why they aren’t tearing it up. They aren’t tearing it up because they take pride in it, just like we do. They are glad to be in it and appreciate it. It was very rewarding moving over here. Our kids deserved it. Our community deserves it.”
Wilson said he has no real plans for what he’s going to do during his retirement.
“For the first time in my life, I can tell you that I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I know I’m going to fish. I’m going to get back into golf. I’ve got some farm interests in Monroe County that I’m going to look into. But I don’t have any specific things that I’m going to do. I don’t have plans for the next job. It might come but it’s certainly not on my agenda. I’m just going to take life as it comes for a while.
“I’m going to be free and easy for while, at my own pace.”
Wilson said he wants to travel some during his retirement.
“I want to go to Chicago and see Wrigley Field before they renovate it,” Wilson said, referring to the longtime home of the Chicago Cubs.
Wilson said retirement will allow him to visit his daughter Angela, who is living in North Carolina.
Wilson graduated from Brinkley High School in 1972. He received his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education with a minor in science from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1977.
Wilson and his wife Mary met in college at UAPB and recently celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. They have two children — Angela, a 1995 graduate of LHS, and Phyl, a 1998 graduate of LHS.
Wilson said his children both had great experiences at Lonoke High School.
“Lonoke allowed us to be able to do some of those types of things,” he said.