Death of up-and-coming Tennessee high school referee rocks community

Death of up-and-coming Tennessee high school referee rocks community


Death of up-and-coming Tennessee high school referee rocks community


Josh Artis (right) embraces Kenwood boys' basketball coach Dennis Pardue during the "Pack the House For Josh" night as part of the Kenwood-Clarksville High basketball game last January. (Photo: George Robinson/The Leaf-Chronicle)

Josh Artis (right) embraces Kenwood (Tenn.) boys basketball coach Dennis Pardue during the “Pack the House For Josh” night in January. (Photo: George Robinson/The Leaf-Chronicle)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.—One of Clarksville’s (Tenn.) most recognizable residents with a reputation for impacting the lives of those he came in contact with died Thursday after a four month battle with cancer at the age of 29.

Artis was surrounded by his family when he passed at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sara Cannon Cancer Center in Nashville. Artis was re-admitted to the Centennial Medical Center on Monday and was moved to the Cancer Center Wednesday, according to Josh’s father, Mike Artis.

“At that point, Josh didn’t want anyone to see him in the physical condition he was in,” Mike Artis told The Leaf-Chronicle Friday morning. “It took its toll on him physically. It was difficult for him. But I’m telling you what, spiritually and mentally … cancer couldn’t touch him. Couldn’t touch him.”

Mike Artis said he and his family are currently working out funeral arrangements.

The overwhelming support and love for Artis has been immense in the past day as thousands of social media posts from Facebook and Twitter have been pouring in since news of Josh Artis’ passing hit late Thursday afternoon.

“He had accepted his fate and was ready,” Mike Artis said. He told me, ‘I’m tired and I’m ready’ I used my time here and it’s time to move on.’

Artis’ effect on the Clarksville and surrounding communities isn’t surprising to those who live in this area. The 2004 Hopkinsville High School graduate worked for three years at the Clarksville Athletic Club and was a quick-rising referee for high school and college athletics around the region.

“I don’t think you could meet a more friendly person,” Clarksville Athletic Club owner, Nathan Deer said Friday. “He knew nearly everyone that came into our Club and he knew their names and about their families. People would come in and tell us their day was better just because he was there. “There are no words to describe this.”

Deer said one of his Club members, who requested to remain anonymous, donated $10,000 to the Artis family to help with rising medical costs as Josh battled the disease. A GoFundMe page was set up last December and it helped to raise an additional $28,000 as of last January.

Deer, who said Josh’s death brought back memories of the death of his 16-year-old daughter in 1999 from a car accident, said he wasn’t completely taken by surprise by Thursday’s news.

“I had a little bit of heads up earlier in the week that he wasn’t doing well,” Deer said. “It didn’t come as a total shock, but his death still had an effect on me. When I called the Club to talk to my wife, because she also works there, everyone in our office was crying. Even now, we’re not ourselves. We’re all just kind of moping around trying to get work done.”

Josh was diagnosed with ALK (a form of lung cancer in non-smokers) Dec. 8 and began treatment almost immediately. Friends flocked from everywhere to offer support while high schools around Clarksville and the midstate held fundraisers at prep games to offer assistance.

“It’s not like he was some big time sports star or some huge entertainer,” Mike Artis said. “It really shows you that no matter who we are, we can always have a positive impact on people’s lives and that’s what Josh was able to do. That’s how people will remember him.”

For more, visit The Leaf Chronicle.


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