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Copperas Cove’s Sunny Avenue renamed Joe Lombardi Way



Cove Leader-Press 


A crowd of approximately 100 gathered at the corner of Easy Street and Sunny Avenue on Wednesday morning to celebrate the renaming of Sunny Avenue to remember “Big” Joe Lombardi. 

Copperas Cove City Manager Ryan Haverlah opened the ceremony with a few words, calling Lombardi a fixture in the community, based on the attendance that morning. 

“He was the voice of the Bulldawgs, and he had a great influence not just in our community, but actually worldwide. I have received messages from across the nation, thanking this community, and thanking our city council for renaming Sunny Avenue to Joe Lombardi Way,” Haverlah said. 

Copperas Cove Mayor Dan Yancey, as well as city councilmembers Joann Courtland, Fred Chavez, and Mayor Pro Tem Vonya Hart were in attendance, as well as a number of Copperas Cove city staff and department heads, to include Director of Public Works Scott Osburn, Fire Chief Gary Young, Chief of Police Eddie Wilson, and Library Director Kevin Marsh. 

Yancey said the street renaming was one of the easiest decisions made since he has been in office. 

James Harrison, who served as general manager of KOOV radio, said the station decided to carry Bulldog football games on the air, because nobody else was doing it.

He said Lombardi was selected to call the play by play for the games.

This was a tradition that spanned the next four-plus decades. 

Harrison called Lombardi’s wife, Sherry Hoffpauir, the “wind beneath (Joe’s) wings” because she was the one to make sure that Joe was “volun-told” what to do when it came to being emcee at functions all over Central Texas, big and small. 

Former Bulldawgs Coach and Athletic Director Jack Welch served in those positions from 1994 until his retirement in 2018. Welch currently coaches at Texas A&M Commerce and made the trip to Copperas Cove for the street renaming, as did his brother, Tracy Welch, who also coached at Copperas Cove prior to his own retirement. 

Welch thanked the city officials for taking the stand and taking a “positive step” by renaming the street that leads fans to Bulldawg Stadium. 

“On any given city council agenda, you make decisions that will impact the city for many years. Things like renaming streets or having streets named for people who have made a difference. You need to be applauded. And I applaud you.”

Welch called Lombardi a community supporter, a Bulldawg supporter, a great friend, and a family man. 

Welch said that with Lombardi’s game calling, he worked with nine coaches over those 45 years, and announced total of 478 football games. Welch said that he himself was sixth in the lineup of coaches. 

Welch said that one time, he saw Joe had a cut. 

“I swear to you it was blue and gold that ran out. His was blue and gold – what I call a true blue friend to the Bulldawgs.” 

Whether it was the soap and towel scrimmage, or the collecting jars of peanut butter, Welch said that Lombardi and Hoffpauir showed support.

“The bottom line is, anything that the school needed, fundraising or anything else, Big Joe was there to help,” Welch said. 

He recalled that Lombardi was very superstitious about games, wearing the same clothing and repeating the same behaviors prior to every game. 

Hoffpauir herself took a few moments to thank all who made the renaming possible. 

“You sent emails, sent letters to the editor, you signed a petition. You wanted something and the city stepped up. So I know he'd be happy and humbled, as Russ said, but I'm just grateful for all of you that came today. And thank you for supporting Joe. We just didn’t want him forgotten.”

The Copperas Cove city council voted unanimously on May 21 to approve changing the street name of Sunny Avenue to Joe Lombardi Way.

The only address in the city that bears the address is 702 Sunny Ave., Copperas Cove Junior High School and Bulldawg Stadium. 

Lombardi was well known as an area radio announcer, having met more than 100 flights of deployed soldiers returning from Desert Storm. He volunteered regularly, emceeing events for the local United Way, announcing at venus like Texas Thunder Speedway, and more. In Copperas Cove, he was also known as the “Voice of the Bulldawgs”, announcing for thousands of CCISD athletics games over the four decades. 


Copperas Cove Leader Press

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Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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