Tom Paris Sr. had bountiful athletic success at Gainesville High in the 1920s.
From 1923-25 he anchored the Red Elephants at quarterback, going 29-0 during his final three seasons. In basketball, he was a scrappy 5-foot, 7-inch forward who was a three-year captain for Gainesville High. Paris was also a state-champion hurdler who won numerous district championships for the track and field squad. He was also captain of the baseball team, playing second base and center field.
Paris, who died at age 92 in 1998, will be inducted with the first class of the Gainesville Athletics Hall of Fame.
Paris finished his high school career with a staggering 16 varsity letters.
However, one day stuck out for Paris, as he recalled later in life. In 1924, Paris led the unbeaten Gainesville football program into a matchup against Athens High for the North Georgia Championship at Sanford Stadium. Despite entering the game as huge underdogs, the Red Elephants jumped to a 20-0 lead on Paris’ touchdown throw to Guy Sanders on a fake field goal. Gainesville managed the hold on to the lead, winning 20-12, for its second straight North Georgia title.
With Paris as quarterback, Gainesville would win three straight North Georgia titles, during a time when there wasn’t a state championship game.
During that three-year run, Gainesville outscored the competition 1,200-63.
After high school, Paris attended the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship, playing football all four years. He played extensively during his career as the Bulldogs’ quarterback.
In 1929, Paris was quarterback as Georgia upset highly-favored Yale, 15-0, in the first game Georgia played at Sanford Stadium in front of a then-record crowd of 33,000.
After college, Paris founded Paris-Dunlap Hardware Co., where he served as president until his retirement. He was named Man of the Year by the Gainesville Rotary Club in 1948, and he was instrumental in the construction of the Chattahoochee Golf Course in 1958. The Rotary Club honored him for his many years of service by establishing the annual Tom Paris Golf Tournament. In 1961, he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and he served for many years on the University of Georgia athletic board.
“My grandfather certainly loved athletics and he was proud of his record at Gainesville,” his grandson, Thomas Paris III (Trey) said. “But what stands out to me was his love of family and community, his business acumen, and the quiet and humble way he conducted himself, always with honesty, integrity and fair play."