The Phoenix Union School District isn’t just home for T.C. Dean, it’s where his heart is.
Dean, 84, a two-time Grand Canyon University Sports Hall of Fame inductee, hasn’t lived outside that district’s boundaries since he first arrived in Phoenix as a child from Memphis, Tennessee in 1941.
He’s the last surviving member of Phoenix’s now-shuttered all-Black Carver High School’s two-time state champion boys basketball team, and graduated from there in 1954.
Dean was an educator and principal for 40 years in the district after he was GCU’s first Black student to receive an athletic scholarship in 1955 and graduated in 1959.
Dean’s late friend, George Greathouse, one of the Valley’s greatest high school football players, was also at home in Phoenix.
Dean and Greathouse first met after Greathouse moved with his family from his native Tollette, Arkansas to Phoenix’s predominately Black “Westside” enclave in the south Phoenix area in 1942. Greathouse lived there with wife until his death April 17 at age 84.
The former Carver Monarchs basketball and football teammates remained close throughout their lives.
Greathouse died at Amarsi Assisted Living facility on 58th Avenue in Glendale, just three blocks away from Dean’s house, located along 59th Street near Maryvale High School in Phoenix.
Greathouse was a three-sport star athlete in basketball, football and track and field (hurdles). He was three-time All-State football selection as a sophomore at Carver and his second high school, Phoenix Union, for his junior and senior years.
“George was part of what I consider the greatest high school backfield in the history of Arizona: George Greathouse, Charles Christopher, Lafeyette Windro and Bill Warren,” Dean said about his former Carver football teammates.
Greathouse was a freshman in 1952 when he replaced fullback Billy Warren (younger brother of Morrison Warren, Phoenix’s first black councilman, Arizona State football legend and longtime professor) who suffered an injury. Greathouse took charge immediately and led Carver to the last two of their three consecutive Class B state titles between 1951 and 1953. As a freshman, he earned All-State honorable mention honors for his team-high 11 touchdowns that year. He scored 36 touchdowns by the end of his sophomore campaign.
Dean and Greathouse played on the Carver Monarchs basketball and football teams together before Phoenix schools were desegregated in 1954 and Carver subsequently closed its doors that same year.
The 6-foot-4 Dean recalled his inability to take down the 5-foot-9 Greathouse’s prodigious speed and power during a football scrimmage.
“We played football and basketball together and I blocked for George as an offensive lineman,” Dean said. “The funny thing about me and George is in practice, the coach had told us to tackle George, the only way you can bring him down was tackle him low.
“So, George bust through the line and I grabbed him by the head and was going to bulldog him down. He carried me 10 yards before someone else tackled him and I could turn him loose.”
Greathouse made an immediate impact at the predominately white and much larger Phoenix Union, where Carver’s student population was absorbed after it was shut down.
The Coyotes won football state titles in his final two seasons there. They were undefeated in 1954 and his 63 high school career touchdowns were a state record until 1986.
He was inducted to the azcentral High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
“When they integrated the schools I really didn’t want to go Phoenix Union,” Greathouse said to the Arizona Republic. “I was brainwashed severely to think that white people were better than me. I was happy where I was in my matchbox stadium at Carver. That’s all I knew. That’s all we had, and I was happy with that.”
Greathouse also played for two seasons at ASU before he left the team and began his career as a barber in 1963. He’s widely known by Black Phoenicians for helming his Esquire Barber and Beauty Salon, one of the local African American community’s beacons in downtown Phoenix between 12th and Jefferson streets, for 52 years until he retired and closed the shop in 2016.
“For 52 years he was a barber. And our relationship there (at Esquire) was he adopted my school because I was principal at (Augustus Shaw Jr. Montessori elementary school) because Gus Shaw was George and my (Carver) football coach,” Dean said. “If my kids didn’t have enough money for haircuts, he would cut their hair (for free). But he charged me,” Dean said while laughing.
When the Republic published its commemorative article about the Carver High sports boys basketball dynasty on March 19, Dean said he and Greathouse called each other and were excited to relive memories of all their former teammates pictured in the story.
It was one of the final interactions the two shared.
Dean and Greathouse were honored together at the Phoenix “Westside” 50-year community reunion in October 2019, and Dean eulogized Greathouse during his funeral in South Phoenix Missionary Baptist Church.
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