March 01, 2024

Clifford George “Chig” Mainous carried the football to the end zone for the final time on February 27, 2024.

Chig was born on Bell Avenue in Appalachia, Virginia, to George and Elizabeth, in the middle of nine siblings: five sisters (Oma, Elizabeth, Glenda Jean, Nora, and Doris) and four brothers (Bill, Vernie, Pete, and Carl). They lived in a variety of places in Appalachia, including Boggs Ave, Old Bottom, Redbird, and Pennyroyal Hill, and Chig walked to school every day. In high school, he followed in his brothers’ footsteps playing football for the Appalachia Bulldogs and held a record for the longest kickoff return – endzone to endzone. He was described as being “faster than the word of God”, and when asked why he was so fast, replied, “Those other boys are bigger than I am, and I didn’t want to get hit!” He went on to play football at Hiwassee College in Tennessee, where he met his future wife, Jackie, who lived in Big Stone Gap. He often spoke of hitchhiking from Appalachia to Big Stone to visit her during school breaks. They earned their Associates Degrees at Hiwassee, and continued their education at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Chig played football there until an injury ended his football career. Shortly after graduating from Emory and Henry with his Bachelors’ Degree, Chig married Jackie and began his teaching and coaching career. They lived in Council, Virginia for a short time, then moved to Gate City, where they taught and coached for several years. They then moved to Illinois and earned Masters’ Degrees before returning to Virginia to teach and coach at John I. Burton High School in Norton. Chig helped to lead the Burton Raiders to a state football championship in 1972 and was named head coach in 1980. Upon retirement, Chig was a fixture at the Lonesome Pine Country Club, playing golf nearly every day, weather permitting, as long as he was able. In 2015, Chig was inducted into the Hiwassee Football Hall of Fame, and in 2023, he and Jackie were inducted into the John I. Burton Hall of Fame.

Chig enjoyed travelling, from family road trips to Daytona Beach, FL for Spring Break, where he “wrestled alligators” in the hotel pool, to spending winters with Jackie in Texas near his son, David, daughter-in-law, Rosie, and his two grandchildren, William and Leslie. He and Jackie also travelled many times to Christiansburg, to help his younger daughter, Mary, with her house, and visited his older daughter, Martha and her partner, Sally, in Richmond on numerous occasions.

But what Chig liked best was to be at home. He loved Appalachia, and often told stories about growing up there. He loved the mountains surrounding the area, often commenting on their beauty. He loved just riding around, looking for birds and other wildlife, and admiring the scenery. He could often be found feeding the ducks in Big Stone or Wise. He preferred to be outside – teaching neighborhood kids how to play kickball or badminton, or teaching his own children how to catch a ball or ride a bike. Later, he kept busy with his yard, mowing or raking leaves, and he always had a garden, even if it was just a few tomato plants.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Hagy & Fawbush Funeral Home in Norton. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to John I. Burton Football Team (109 11th St, Norton, VA 24273) or the Witt-Parks Scholarship Fund (The Holston Foundation, P.O. Box 900, Alcoa, TN 37701).