JWC Founding Member: Coda Baugher

by Thom Van Vleck

Coda Baugher, circa 1930's, part of the first generation of the JWC

The JWC traces it’s roots back to 1928.  This is not to say it’s been a continuously run organization during that time.  There have been good times, and bad.  There was a time in the mid 60’s where there were over 30 dues paying members and two team state championships in Olympic Weightlifting in Missouri and many State Champs.  One thing I can say, is that there has been at least one member of my family continuously training with weights since 1928!

One of those early members was Coda Baugher.   He was my Great Uncle and Brother-in-Law to JWC founder Dalton Jackson.   Coda passed on in 2007.   He pronounced his first name “Cody” (don’t ask my why) and the “Baugher” was pronounced “Bah-Er” or something close to “Bower” (again, don’t ask me why).  Coda and Dalton liked to share stories about training.  My understanding was they became friends when Coda would chaperon the dates Dalton had with my grandmother.  No wonder, my grandfather was 22 and my grandmother was 13 when they started dating….times have changed!

They fixed up some metal poles and filled buckets with cement to make their first weights and lifted things around the farm like anvils and stones.  They would lever sledges for grip and basically got creative with anything they could find.  They could barely afford a magazine….if they could find one in rural Missouri buy….and often made a lot of early mistakes.  One in particular was the grip they most often used.  They weren’t sure early on how to grip the bar so they would grip it with an underhand, or curl type, grip!   If you look closely at the photo above you can see it.

I have no idea how much Coda could lift.  Those numbers are lost to time.  As a matter of fact, this is the only known photo of him lifting weights!  He became a cattle rancher, taking over the farm my Great, Great, Great Grandfather started and it’s still owned by my cousin, his grandson and it’s a Missouri Century Farm.  This distinction goes to farms that are owned over 100 years by the same family.  My family always specialized in Black Angus cattle.  He also was a member of  Providence Baptist Church.  This was a Church founded by my ancestors and is now the oldest continuously attended Baptist Church in Missouri and when I attended Coda’s funeral there, they credited him with saving the Church in hard times over the years.

Basically, Coda was one of those guys that did his job, paid his bills, went to Church on Sunday, and took care of his family and friends.  I wish I would have asked him more about the type of training he did, but I do know he basically trained for the same reasons that Dalton trained for;  To keep his body in shape to fulfill his obligations as a man, not to win titles or trophies.  It is also because of the groundwork that he laid and Dalton laid that the future generations of the JWC could win titles and trophies and enjoy the luxury of lifting competition in general.  For that, I thank him and hope this article gives the man his due!

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