Local residents and Famuans from across the country gathered at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church Wednesday to remember the man they all called “Pops.”
Costa “Pops” Kittles, remembered by many for his quick wit and caring heart, died Friday after suffering an apparent heart attack. He was 75 and lived in Tallahassee for the last 43 years.
“From looking at the people here today, you can see what kind of individual he was, the kind of educator he was,” said former Rattler baseball player Robert Lucas.
Kittles played baseball and football while in college and coached the Rattler baseball team after his mentor, Oscar A. “Chief” Moore, retired in 1960. During his 23-year career, he amassed a 401-128 record, along with eight Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles, six National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics playoff titles and a national tournament championship.
He retired from coaching in 1982 and continued to teach in the health, physical education and recreation department until he retired as an associate professor in 1985.
Former colleagues and pupils spent time Wednesday sharing their memories of Kittles.
“If you weren’t listening, you might have missed something important,” said Albert Chester, a former Rattler football player. “And even if you were, you probably didn’t understand until you left.”
Rev. David Seullau said he remembers Kittles’ benevolence.
“Every Sunday he was out there, and he had little gifts,” Seullau said. “This is the only church I came to where I got a gift.”
Eddie Jackson, former vice president for university relations, said the $50,000 donated to FAMU by Kittles and his wife, Emma, was one of the highest amounts donated to the school by alumni.
Jackson said he also remembers quitting his job as sports information director, only to regret the decision. Coach Kittles helped him get it back.
“I told him I moved too hastily,” said Jackson, who retired from FAMU in 2002.
“He changed my life in a special way.”
There will be a memorial service at Lee Hall today at 11 a.m. to honor Kittles’ accomplishments.