Gary and Dreisa Sherrill


After several years of declining health in his retirement on the South Carolina coast, legendary South Iredell High School coach Gary Sherrill passed away at age 85 on Wednesday.

Gary was a pillar of the community in so many ways. In addition to 32 years in the classroom and 37 years as a coach, he was also a steadfast, dependable father, brother and husband, doing whatever he could to make people around him happy, his wife Dreisa said.

Coach Sherrill

Dreisa met Gary in 1979, spending the majority of her adult life by his side. They shared “many wonderful times together and great adventures,” and stuck together through a few rough times, she added.

“We cared deeply for each other. He would help with any harebrained notion I had and be supportive of me.”

After Gary was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022, his friends never forgot him, and Dreisa found wonderful care, services, and attention to make his final years comfortable.

Dreisa said that what she will remember most about Gary is his overall presence and his determination to do things the right way.

“He coached hard, and he wanted the young men he coached to be good men when they grew up,” she said. “He was a good role model and left his players the legacy of striving for excellence in whatever they do.”

“He contributed so much of his energy in life to helping others and being a mentor. He may only have two biological kids (daughters Lisa and Salem), but also he has hundreds of other ‘adopted’ children that he influenced through teaching and coaching. He was extremely well respected by all.”

Gary also liked to have a good time. He loved to play golf and watch Westerns. He was an avid “Desperate Housewives” fan and would never miss an episode.

“He also loved being on Lake Norman on his boat and going to Appalachian State and Davidson football and basketball games,” she said.

Gary began his teaching career at Troutman High School in 1966 and then joined the staff at the new South Iredell High School when it opened in 1966. He and Bill Mayhew coached football together, and Gary also coached men’s basketball and started the golf program at the school.

Coach Sherrill draws up a play.

Gary’s “blood ran blue and gold,” Dreisa said. “His life was happiest in that gymnasium at South Iredell High School, and we all came along for the ride.”

Even after he retired from the classroom, Sherrill continued teaching drivers education. When the South Iredell basketball coaching position came open a few years after his retirement, Sherrill returned to coach the team and continue building and supporting the program he loved.

In 2021, the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education presented Gary with a plaque, honoring his over 50 years of service to the school system.

Gary was a charter member of the Monticello Methodist Church. He was also a member of and past president of the Statesville Kiwanis Club and a lifetime member of the Statesville Jaycees.

“There was not too much that Gary was not involved in. Being a service to the community was important to him, and he had to do a good job on whatever he was working on,” said Dreisa.

Gary’s other passion was helping mentor young women in scholarship pageants. He was a founding member of the Carolina Dogwood Festival and its past president, founded the Iredell County Junior Miss Pageant, and was a Miss North Carolina Pageant field director and pageant judge.

Dreisa said that Gary loved working with the young women in the pageant world and seeing them succeed and achieve. He helped them work on their interview skills and build other life skills through their participation in the pageant organization.

Gary and his daughter Salem

“He had a balanced life that people may not be aware of. He gave equal attention to both the young men on the court and the young women in the pageants, just in different venues.”

Distant cousin Chuck Gallyon played basketball for Coach Sherrill during his freshman year of high school, and Sherrill also coached Gallyon’s sons.

“He was a unique individual and one of the best basketball coaches Iredell County has ever had,” Gallyon said. “So many of the kids he coached went on to play in college.”

Gallyon said Sherrill was “a giant in many ways. He had really good teams and should’ve won several state championships. He was a great coach and person, and I’m glad he was in my life because of the person he was.”

“He was tenacious and wanted to win. He coached and took the talent he had and made it work, putting great teams on the court every year.”

Longtime friend Bill Brater called Sherrill “a man of his word. He never took the easy way out, and he was a good, loyal friend and excellent role model who spent years of his life mentoring others.”

“I don’t know how many lives he affected, but every single one was in a positive way because you learn life’s lessons in athletics, especially when you’re a young teenage guy or girl,” Brater said. “You are learning about teamwork, listening to instructions and carrying them out, and have someone else’s back.”

After he retired, Sherrill worked at a local funeral home with Brater. “I would always have him to drive the family to the funerals because he got along so well with people. Of course, he knew about everyone in the county.”

“He was a guy we need more of — just a good, truth-telling, honest, straight-forward guy. If you look over your shoulder, he’s right there behind you. I always enjoyed being around him and working with him, and he always had a good story to tell.”

Brater always admired Sherrill’s coaching ability, saying it was no easy task to develop so many players to go on to play college basketball from what was then a small high school in Troutman with a small pool of athletes to pull from.

Many of these kids would not have had an opportunity to go to college without Sherrill’s coaching expertise. “Athletics opens a lot of doors because it teaches life lessons that apply to their lives and future jobs.”

“That’s a crucial time in life when you are a teenager. That’s a tender time when you can learn good or bad things real quick. He loved his coaching work. It was his passion.”

Chip Weddington knew Sherrill as both a rival basketball coach and as a colleague when he later became Sherrill’s principal at SIHS. Weddington coached men’s basketball at North Iredell and said that they were fierce competitors, but when the games were over, the pair were good buddies, talking later about the game and the players’ performances.

“He was a great coach. He always got the most out of the talent that he had on the court. I won games and lost games to Gary, but they were always good games,” Weddington said.

“If I lost a tough game, I would often find a message of support afterwards, and it was so nice to hear from him.”

When Weddington later became Sherrill’s principal, he still felt Sherrill’s full support. “We respected each other, respected each other’s opinions, and he respected my decisions. I can say nothing but good things about our relationship over the years. We had lots of fun and fussed sometimes, but he was always my friend in the end.

“It was just evident that Gary loved what he did,” he added. “He loved the kids. He loved to coach. It was just an honor to be associated with him.”

Kenny Miller knew Sherrill as both a student-athlete and later as teaching colleague and travel buddy.

“He was a unique guy, an old-school, stern traditional coach when he was a young coach in high school. We were all pretty scared of him but knew he was a good guy underneath.”

After he graduated from college and became an educator, Miller coached at South with Sherrill and learned that the stern persona that he had when coaching hid a more caring side.

Miller said that Sherrill helped many kids over the years attain college scholarships, and players often returned to visit because Sherrill demanded their best and their respect because he loved them.

Although he was hard-nosed as a coach, Sherrill had a softer, caring side as well. He once took in a homeless student to live with his family for a while until the young man was able to get on his feet. Miller said Sherrill helped a lot of people that nobody really knew about.

Miller’s wife, Lisa, was best friends with Dreisa, so the two couples took many trips together to destinations such as the beach, Dollywood, and Washington, D.C. They made many stops at Cracker Barrel in their journeys because it was Gary’s favorite restaurant. He loved the country decor and the home cooking.

Miler remembered a humorous incident that happened on a trip to Washington about 20 years ago. As the couples entered the Holocaust Museum, Gary buzzed when he walked through the metal detectors. He told the guard that he had a pocket knife with him, but when he pulled it out, the blade was about four inches long.

The guard asked, “You aren’t from around here are you?” The guard politely asked Gary to take the large and forbidden knife back to his car 10 blocks away.

Miller said that Sherrill always considered Troutman his home even after he moved to the beach to enjoy his retirement years.

“He’ll be missed. He had a good heart and was always there if you needed him. He was a great friend.”

Pictured (from left) are Gary’s son-in-law Terry Gannon, granddaughter Maddie Gannon, grandson, Jake Gannon, daughter Lisa, wife Dreisa, and Gary.

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