Obituary of Gary "Coach Mac" McPherson
Gary Dan McPherson, 82 of Morgantown, WV passed away Wednesday, December 5, 2018 with his wife by his side as she has been since they married 60 years ago. He was born on July 5, 1936 in Cass, WV, son of the late Lyle and Audra McPherson.
Upon his graduation from Green Bank High School in 1954, he was awarded a football scholarship to attend Washington and Lee University where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. The football scholarship was changed to basketball when the University ended its football program. He graduated with a teaching degree in 1958 with a specialization in History.
Following graduation, he married his sweetheart, Peggy Sheets from Green Bank, WV whom he’d known since seventh grade. They married on August 9, 1958 and one week later, began their 60-year journey into the world of teaching and coaching. They moved to Chase City, VA where Gary began his first job as a history teacher and as the Bluestone High School football and basketball coach, where he was given the nickname, Coach Mac. From Bluestone High School, he moved on to Ferrum Junior College as their football and basketball coach.
In 1964, Gary was hired as the Head Coach of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Keydets Basketball team, where he stayed until 1969. During the summers, he worked as a staff coach at Camp Wahoo Basketball Camp near Charlottesville, VA, where he instructed future bestselling author, Pat Conroy. In fact, in Conroy’s book, “My Losing Season”, he specifically mentioned Coach Mac. They remained lifelong friends.
During his tenure with VMI, Coach Mac attended summer classes at the University of Virginia to earn his master’s degree in education in 1964. While at VMI, he considered his greatest coaching achievements to be his victories over the West Virginia University Mountaineers, VMI’s Southern Conference rival.
Gary joined Sonny Moran’s WVU staff in 1970 and stayed until 1974. After moving on to Alderson Broaddus as Head Coach and then to Cincinnati as Gale Catlett’s Assistant Coach, he returned to WVU as Assistant Coach with Catlett in 1978. Following 15 seasons at WVU, he left coaching to work with the Mountaineer Athletic Club (MAC) bringing countless friends and financial supporters to WVU Athletics. He held membership in the National Association of Basketball Coaches and attended almost every Final Four. He was a tremendous storyteller and had a great love for the Boston Red Sox. Basketball, coaching, and life in general never produced a finer gentleman!
In addition to his wife, Peggy, he is survived by his daughter, Melissa “Missy” McPherson of Jacksonville, FL; his daughter in law, Patty McPherson; brother in law, Charles Sheets and wife Carolyn; sister in law, Jeanne Carter; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He is also survived by his neighborhood grandchildren, Elizabeth Gallon Howley, Nick Gallon and Emily Gallon Burnside, and great-grandchildren, Kaedon, Mary and Collin Howley.
In addition to his parents, Gary is preceded in death by a son, Chris McPherson and sister, Patty (McPherson) Gibson.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gary’s memory to Coach Gary McPherson Basketball Scholarship, Virginia Military Institute, Attn: Donnie Ross, PO Box 932, Lexington, VA 24450, The Mountaineer Athletic Club Basketball Scholarship, PO Box 877, Morgantown, WV, 26507, WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center in Memory of Chris McPherson, 1 Medical Center Drive, Morgantown, WV 26506, or Suncrest United Methodist Church, 479 Van Voorhis Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.
The family would like to thank the many special friends who assisted Gary during the last few years.
Hastings Funeral Home in Morgantown has been entrusted with arrangements. Friends and family will be received at Suncrest United Methodist Church, 479 Van Voorhis Rd., Morgantown on Tuesday, December 11th from 2-8 PM and again on Wednesday, December 12th from 10 AM until the time of the funeral service at 11 AM with Rev. Mike Estep and Rev. Junius Lewis officiating. In keeping with his wishes, cremation will take place following the service.