Gary Dan McPherson, age 82 of Morgantown, passed away Wednesday, December 5, 2018, with his wife by his side as she has been since they married 60 years ago.
Born July 5, 1936, in Cass, he was a son of the late Lyle and Audra McPherson.
Upon his graduation from Green Bank High School in 1954, Gary 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, 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, Virginia, 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 its football and basketball coach.
In 1964, Gary was hired as 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, Virginia, 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 parents, he was preceded in death by his son, Chris McPherson; and a sister, Patty McPherson Gibson.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Melissa “Missy” McPherson, of Jacksonville, Florida; 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.
The family would like to thank the many special friends who assisted Gary during the last few years.
Funeral service was held December 12 at Suncrest United Methodist Church in Morgantown with Revs. Mike Estep and Junius Lewis officiating. In keeping with his wishes, cremation took place following the service.
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.
Online condolences may be made at www.hastingsfuneralhome.com. In addition, the family would appreciate that memories or special stories about Gary be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org