Robert Guthrie and all the Guthrie boys of Fannin County inherited a gene pool of athletic excellence that was rich and deep. Family patriarch Travis Guthrie was a standout basketball player at Fannin County High School in Morganton and then at Young Harris College. His four sons, Leon, Carlton, Robert and Jerry more than carried on the family tradition.
Robert Guthrie has been elected to the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding athletic career. His brother, Carlton, was elected to the FCSHOF as a member of the inaugural class of 2013, so Robert will become the second member of the family to be so honored.
Robert played football and basketball at West Fannin High School from 1961-1965. His talent for athletics was never in question, but his body put up a formidable roadblock to be overcome before his talents could be displayed. As a youngster, he was afflicted with a condition of the bone called osteomyelitis. He had several surgeries on his right foot in the ankle area culminating in a procedure around end of his elementary school years that put him in a cast from hip to ankle for some time.
The surgeries, the extensive rounds of physical therapy and, most importantly, the indomitable courage of Robert Guthrie, made it possible for him to compete in basketball and football when he arrived at West Fannin High School in the autumn of 1961. He was not very big, standing around 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” and weighing in the neighborhood of 150 pounds during his playing days, but he earned spots on both the football and basketball varsity squads during his sophomore year of 1962-63.
Robert Guthrie became the starting quarterback at West Fannin High School in the fall of 1963, his junior year at the school. The football program had struggled through the two previous seasons with records of 3-7 in 1962 and 3-5-2 in 1961. With Robert at the helm, however, the 1963 football squad would rebound by winning 6 games, losing three and playing the Murphy Bulldogs to a thrilling 20-20 tie.
The 1963 football season was certainly a high point in Robert Guthrie’s athletic career. From the quarterback position, he finished 4th in Region 3AA in rushing with 717 yards. He was second in the Region in scoring with 78 points, including 12 touchdowns. He also passed for 8 touchdowns and two PATs during that season, meaning, of course, that he had a hand, or more appropriately feet or arm, in 20 of the team’s scores.
He was selected as the team’s most valuable back in 1963 and was named to the Class AA Honorable Mention All-State team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the end of the season. He was also selected to the Atlanta Constitution Prep Stars of the Week for his performances vs Murray County, Murphy and Dalton in 1963.
Perhaps Robert’s most memorable individual performance during his high school career occurred in the game with Polk County on the night of October 4, 1963. In that game, he rushed for three touchdowns on runs of one, 45 and 78 yards. He also threw a 45-yard pass to Phillip Hackney and a 16-yarder to Tom Turner for two more touchdowns as West Fannin defeated Polk 45-7 in what was expected to be a close game.
As a senior in 1964-65, Robert was selected as a co-captain of both the football and basketball teams. Although the Jacket teams of that year were a bit sub-par, Robert continued to play at a very high level. He had another leg operation during the offseason, the after effects of which slowed him most of the football season and caused him to miss entirely the season opener against Lakeview. The high point of the football season for Robert, and West Fannin, came in the final game of the season. In that game against arch-rival Copper Basin, Robert rushed for 126 yards, scored a touchdown and, most importantly, kicked the PAT after the second Jacket touchdown leading West Fannin to a 13-12 upset victory.
He was again selected as the Most Valuable Back of the football team and was awarded the basketball Sportsmanship Award for the 1964-65 season. He was also selected as the team Most Valuable Player by the Copper Basin Jaycees.
Robert’s size and injury history precluded him from continuing his athletic career at the college level. He continued to compete, however, and was elected the most outstanding athlete in the boys’ intramural program as a sophomore at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia. After Reinhardt, he continued his education at North Georgia Technical College where he studied electronics.
After college, Robert Guthrie embarked on a career with Delta Airlines in Atlanta. He remained with Delta during his entire career that spanned just over 30 years. He enjoyed hiking, hunting and fishing in his spare time.
Robert Guthrie passed away at the age of 65 on February 27, 2013. He is survived by his wife of more than 20 years, Becky Lanning Guthrie, and two adult children, Jason Guthrie and Lisa Mimbs.