'The Candy Man Can'
- Lon Austin
- Central Oregonian - Features
>Local resident and long-tie volunteer coach Don Purkerson died Sunday"The Candy Man Can" was a song from the 1971 version of "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The song was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and performed by Aubrey Woods in the movie.
In 1972, the song was sung by Sammy Davis Jr., and went to number one on the charts becoming Davis' biggest hit. The song goes, in part, "the candyman can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good."
Prineville had its own version of the candyman. For years Don Purkerson was a fixture at local basketball games and practices. He acted as a volunteer coach and counselor for more than 20 years, touching the lives of many Crook County High School students athletes, parents and even coaches. Purkerson had diabetes and carried around a bag of hard candy to help control his blood sugar level. And he was quick to pass out that candy to players, coaches and parents alike.
Purkerson always had a smile on his face and always treated players with respect and a great deal of patience. And whenever he passed out candy, it was indeed mixed with love and made the world taste good. For years he did everything that he could to make Crook County basketball better. He spent hours in the gym passing basketballs to shooters, passing out kind words and candy, and always being positive and supportive.
Purkerson exemplified the best of everything related to athletics. Win or lose, he was there doing what he could to make players feel good about themselves and the game. He wanted to win, but winning wasn't what made him tick. He truly was there for the kids.
As spectators, we could learn a lot from how Purkerson conducted himself on and off the court. He was always positive and never complained about coaches, officiating or anything else that happened. He spent his life trying to build others up, instead of tearing them down as so many others seem to do.
Recently Purkerson was having health issues and was not as actively involved in athletics as in the past.
Sadly, early Sunday morning Don passed away. Prineville has lost perhaps its number one fan. He will be remembered and he will be truly missed.