Seth M. Vining Jr., was the embodiment of service.
The late father of Lakeview Academy boys basketball coach Seth Vining served his country in World War II and as a clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served his community of Polk County, North Carolina as a county commissioner, editor of the local paper, chairman of the school board, scoutmaster, Sunday school teacher and Little League umpire and coach.
And thanks to the parents of the boys his son coaches at Lakeview, Seth M. Vining Jr., will continue to serve even in death.
"The night before one of our home ballgames, my parents called a meeting in the classroom in the gym," Vining said. "Sharon (Clarke), the team mom, presented me with money and they said they had collected it in honor of my dad.
"They told me to do what I wanted for youth."
Clarke, mother of senior Tyler Ward, along with Gina Kendrick spearheaded the effort after Vining’s father passed away on Oct. 20 of last year.
"We wanted to do something for coach Vining when his father passed away that would be long-lasting," said Clarke and Kendrick won a state title while playing for Vining at East Hall High School.
"(Vining) and his father both have always worked with children in the community and Vining especially has been an advocate for the underdog."
After mulling over how best to use the funds, Vining contacted Jim Mathis who suggested he speak with Janice Ward, the Senior Vice President of the North Georgia Community Foundation — an organization which encourages philanthropy in an effort to improve the quality of life in this region.
Out of the conversation with Ward came the Seth Vining Youth Foundation, a fund set up in honor of coach Vining’s father that will help support youth in Hall and Polk counties for generations to come.
"I really wanted to take this opportunity and try to have a vision of helping youth in Polk and Hall County," Vining said. "We have donations coming in already and the potential is unlimited.
"It’s just a matter of making the best use of the funds to help as many people as we can."
A portion of the money donated so far will be given to each middle school in Hall County as well as the Hall County Boys and Girls Club as a grant to pay for a child to attend Vining’s summer basketball camp.
"We’re so excited," said Clarke of the foundation. "It’s going to give kids so many opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise."
Vining is also holding court in Polk County where he will put on a basketball camp this summer.
"The camp in Polk County is going to be a neat opportunity," Vining said. "The coaches are donating their time to work it, so the proceeds can help the community buy equipment and stuff they need.
"As the funds come in, we’ll do more and more and more and eventually we’d like to expand to more sports."
Vining noted that a future goal of the foundation is to start a Character Education Speakers Bureau in an effort to teach youth about the importance of being a good person, not just a good athlete.
"Coach Vining has already had such an impact on the lives of youth," Clarke said. "I know he did on mine and my entire (East Hall) team and it’s why I wanted my son to play for him.
"I knew Tyler (Ward) would play to the best of his abilities under coach, but I also knew he would be a better person for having been around coach Vining. He’s just such an incredible human being."
For Vining, the reward comes in an opportunity to provide something valuable for children in the memory of a father who dedicated his life to serving others.
"My father once said that if he had to do it all over again he’d probably be a teacher and a coach," Vining said. "I’m really excited about the opportunity to continuwe to do things like he would have wanted them done.
"It’s been a blessing to have been given an opportunity to do things that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise, and that I can do it in memory of dad is exciting."