I have just learned about Coach Purcell's passing away. You may remember that I spoke with him and you several years ago after I had met my old friend and high school QB football teammate, Jim Estes, in Honolulu. I told Coach that Jim and I had finally completed a pass that was overthrown in an MPHS game some 30 years earlier. He was amused and somewhat surprised that this had stuck with us so long! But, most importantly. I used this occasion to tell Coach Purcell how much he had meant to me and how much I had learned from him -- as my football and swimming coach -- and how much he had influenced my life, for which I remain grateful to this day.
I was intending to call Coach again this past weekend after I had completed an annual swim race across the Potomac River to let him know that 50 years after we won the NC high school swimming championship, with him as coach, I was still in the water. I finished first in my age group -- although I should add there were only 3 in my age group of 65 plus! I thought he would enjoy this story. And it would give me another chance to say thank you.
Then i learned that this great coach, and wonderful man, how passed away. My sincere regrets that I had not heard earlier and been in touch with you then.
But, as they say, it's never too late to do the right thing and it's never too late to send a condolence message for a special person in your life. I have no doubt that in the stadium of heaven, God has placed Coach Purcell on the 50 yard line.
With my warm regards to you and your family.
MPHS Class of '64
Gus Purcell was not just an outstanding coach, he was a great teacher. Few people realized that, although his offense consisted of a multitude of plays, Coach Purcell gave his quarterbacks freedom to create plays by calling pass patterns in the huddle for all of the receivers individually -- just like Sid Gillman did in pro football. That trust is the essence of being a great teacher or parent -- give your students all the knowledge you have to prepare them and allow them to make decisions on their own. Letting go is the most difficult yet the most rewarding challenge in life.
To sit in one of his quarterback meetings was like a Master class in Life. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Coach Purcell was a Master indeed.
He will be missed, but will remain in our hearts forever.
I played against Gus Purcell, and Myers Park Mustanges at Garainger High in Charlotte, and Gus chose me to play in the 1960 Shrine Bowl.
Truly a man ahead of time, and inspired many of us. God Bless his family during this time. Glenn Fogle Sr.
When I was a young boy we lived 2 doors from offensive line coach Jack Sink. My dad was a big fan of MP under Purcell though we lived in the South Meck district. I loved going to the games and once was a water boy for a scrimmage against West Charlotte at Memorial Stadium. Another time I rode the team bus there for a game against South. I did attend MP, and Gus left coaching after my sophmore year and I never knew him personally, but he was always in the stands at the games and would talk to my friend whom he knew. Another friend I knew worked at the fish camp. For sure his offenses stood out to me even when I was so young. The team I remember the most had Pike Jones and John Davis in the backfield.
Celebrating a life well livled. Cherish the memories forever.
I missed this notice back in March. My condolences to the Purcell family. Mr Purcell was a man you never forgot. MPHS was lucky to have him.
I will always remember Coach Purcell. He was truly an innovative coach. It was an honor to play for him. All of us Mustangers will miss him.
Please accept my condolences during this time of sorrow.
He was my homeroom teacher at MPHS and such a nice guy. I am glad I happened on the obituary today while I was searching for my cousin John Poole in Hamlet.
Coach Purcell was not only one of the legendary High School football coaches of North Carolina, but he was forward thinker long before it was fashionable; He was one of the original doers who taught the term "out-of-the-box," and because of Coach Purcell and his mentoring to me during my younger years, I have been able to think out of the box when it comes to business; I will be forever grateful to have met a man who always brought the best out in a person by making them know until you try, you never know what you can achieve out of life; truly the passing of a great legend of a man ....
Mrs. Purcell and Family:
When I saw the obit this morning for Gus Purcell, I said to myself, this has to be Coach Purcell from my old Myers Park High School days. I remember him fondly. He was always one of my favorites at the school; very kind and never too busy to listen, just an all around great coach, teacher and friend.
Please accept my condolences and know that you and your family are in my prayers not only today, but in the days ahead.
Tahelia E. Wardlaw
MP Mustang at Heart ('60's)
I remember Gus Purcell Day Camp in fact I was talking about it just the other day, coincidentally. I was such good wholesome way to spend a summer in the '70's. The end of camp spend the nights were definitely a highlight.I learned so much especially treating your fellowman and good citizenship and soprtmanship.God Bless Gus Purcell and Family
Leora Price, Fort Mill,SC
I was never a star football player, but Mr. Purcell was a star human being! A great man. I will never forget my time playing for him or the lessons in life he taught me. God speed, coach.
I am very sorry to hear about Coach Purcell passing.
What a wonderfully Coach he was.
Lucy ur father was very proud of u.
Magdalena Flores Hague
I was in Coach Purcell's gym class at Myers Park.(class of '80) I think this was the first year that they had boys and girls together and he just wasn't sure what to do with us girls. When it came time to do weights he would tell us we could go play ping-pong. He will be missed by everyone he taught.
To the Purcell Family,
Your father's day camp was one of the highlights to my summers as a child. I loved at the end of the time that we'd have a sleep over and all the stories that were told. I learned what poison ivy was along with all the different types of trees were with the nature classes, arts & crafts (which my mother saved and I still have a few items), archery, riffle shooting with a be be gun (all of which can't be taught nowadays), and swim lessons (which I still have my badge levels). What a great experience and I feel so lucky to have had it thanks to your father.
My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
My daughter attended day camp and loved it. We're so grateful for the opportunity and the healthy environment.
Linda Christopher, Charlotte
Dear Bonnie and Family,
My association with Gus was through his day camp. My girls attended several summers and I was the Arts and Crafts teacher (and van driver) for two summers. Those were special days for us and for all the young people whose lives (hundreds, maybe thousands) were touched by Gus through his coaching and camps. He will always live in the hearts and minds of those whose lives he touched. May you be comforted with the awareness that we are all better people for having known, respected and loved him.
Jane Gibson Seawell
Emely and Frances
I don't know if you remember me, but we lived next door on McAlway. I'm so sorry to hear about Mr. Purcell. My thoughts are with you.
To the Purcell Family,
Coach used to visit our office every weekday to pick up our bank deposits. He was such a gentleman and kind human being. As a member of Park Meridian Bank's board, Gus became the example of excellence in how clients should be treated.
It was obvious that Gus always gave 100 percent to any job he took.
Thanks for touching so many lives in such a consistently positive manner. Thanks Coach.
Coach Purcell was wonderful teacher and coach. Recall in gym he gave us a pillow to carry pretending it was a baby then run and fall foward into a barrell roll while protecting our "baby". He gave me 24 football game films of MP. Hope someday to convert them from 16 mm to DVD. He coached my brother Harris so well to be selected all county, all state and who played on MP undefeated team which led to full scholarship at Univ of South Carolina. God bless.
I would like to offer my condolences to your family. Mr. Purcell sounds like an extraordinary man. During this time of grief it is good to know that God will be for you "a refuge and strength". (Psalms 46:1)
Dear Purcell Family - I just received word of Coach Purcell's death. I had the wonderful experience of working at the Day Camp as well as knowing Coach at MPHS.He taught us many life lessons - the most important being his belief in us as we struggled through those tough teen years.Thank you for sharing him with so many of us. Nicky Nicholson Wallace, Class of 1962
DEAR PURCELL FAMILY, I WAS FORTUNATE TO PLAY FOR COACH 56-58 SEASONS . HE WAS A GREAT COACH BUT EVEN BETTER MAN.. WE TOOK MANY OF THE LESSIONS HE TAUGHT US AND PLAYED THE GAME OF LIFE TO ITS FULLEST. BILL WALLACE MICCO, FL
Dear Bonnie, Lucy and Gary,
I was not one of Coach's football protege's, however he did teach me to swim and coached me for many summers at MPCC. I have many fond memories as do so many others. From watching his coaching career, to eating at his fish camp, to hearing all about his golf game and always asking about my sister, Pam! My tears are falling with yours and hope that you will find comfort in all of your happy memories. Pam and I share in your grief and send you our love. Brent(Barnett)Libasci and Pam Barnett
Dear Purcell Family:
My family's prayers are with you. Coach Purcell played at Carolina (1946-49) along with my late father (Kenny Powell). I was fortunate enough to have known Coach from that relationship, then later in life after my years at Myers Park. Although I never played for Coach Purcell, I can say he inspired many here in Charlotte. We are all thankful and privileged to have known such a good man. God Bless.
Myers Park Class of 1977
I put my life in his hands and he made me the man I am today. God bless you coach. God bless you Bonnie.
class of 66
I worked at the quarerback camp & day camp in 1978. Coach Purcell was one of the sweetest and kindest men ever. I enjoyed that summer and have many fond memories of working for and with Coach Purcell. Thank you. My love to his family. Sebia Midyette Petrovich
Dear Bonnie and family,
I worked the camp for Gus
He was a beautiful soul and I willmiss him greatly. I am sure he is in heaven with other members of our staff like Charlie England and Eliot Possible. I miss them all every day.
Dear Purcell Family,
I worked for Gus at the Day Camp (and drove a bus too!) for three summers. I have wonderful memories of my time there. I was also at Myers Park graduating in 1965. My sister told me today on Facebook that Gus had passed. I will be praying for you as you miss this wonderful man.
Francine Milam Graham
Dear Bonnie, Lucy, and Gary,
Coach will live on - not only in you guys but in the lives of the many of us he influenced every day of his life. He is on a very short list of the most influential people in the formative years of my life; I am very fortunate that I was able to receive his gifts almost every day for 3 1/2 months each year for three years in a row, 1958 - 1960. He was a true giant of a man in the highest sense of the word. There are lots of us who grieve and celebrate with you.
MPHS Class of '61
It's a sad day for us all. I wanted so much to come down and play a couple of rounds with you and "Coach" but I continued to work until last year and had been looking forward to seeing you all this spring.
When such an honorable, kind and gentle man leaves us, the world loses a piece of its civility.
You have my deepest and sincerest sympathy.
MP Class of'52
I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your husband and father. Coach Purcell gave many of us a chance and then helped us succeed. There are no amount of words that will make up for your loss but please take comfort in knowing that he was a great man that made an impact on us all.
I remember Coach Purcell from going to his day camp in 1963 and later in my years at Myers Park. A very kind man. My sympathies to his family.
Gus - I am certain that Porter Gibson was standing at the gate to welcome you to Heaven. Two very good men with unbelieveable amounts of honor and integrity. It has been a long time but I never forgot.
Curt Seawell, Laurinburg High School 1943-1947 I was probably the sorriest player you ever laid eyes on.
Thinking of you now, and wishing I could be at the service that celebrates Gus' life. I know it will be a very special memorial.
How do I begin to say thank you to a man who had such a positive impact on so many young lives including mine. I will never forget the wonderful times spent at Gus Purcell Day camp as a camper and a counselor. Coach Purcell was never too busy to stop and speak to every camper and if anyone had a problem he was there to help. Lucy you were my BEST friend every summer and I will never forget the great times we had together. Your father touched many lives. He will be missed but his legand will live on. My deepest sympathy to Mrs. Purcell, Lucy and Gary.
You are in my thought and prayers.
Wynne Dickson Stegall
Coach Purcell was a great friend and mentor. He was loved and respected. He will be missed. Tim Hassard Myers Park '78.
My prayers and thoughts are with you.
Myers Park 1977
You are in our thoughts and prayers. Although I never got to personally meet Gus, he was always on the cutting edge when I grew up in Charlotte.
He was way ahead of his time, installing the pro-set, passing out of the shotgun offense, etc. His Mustang teams used an aerial circus to crush everybody and I can remember when my school, South Mecklenburg, beat him for the first time before 14,000 fans at MemoriaL Stadium (28-14, 1965) -- what an exciting game.
And his positive influence on his players and students is legendary. Plus, he helped prepare his nephew, Bobby Purcell, who is now the executive director of the NC State University Wolfpack Club. What a great legacy.
God bless you Bonnie. Gus will be designing plays in heaven!
Dear Purcell Family,
So many of my happiest childhood memories are impacted by your family through my summers climbing aboard the bus to head to your camp where you loved me and my friends all day, and my lifelong friendship with Lucy. Gus Purcell led his family and friends to greatness in everyday significant ways that I will always admire and appreciate. With love, Mary Beth Saltzgiver Edens and family
Dear Bonnie and Family:
Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Myers Park High is so appreciative of the 30 years of service you and Gus contributed. The Mustangs are who they are in large part to coach Purcell's vision and high standards. His induction into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame is both fitting and proper. A man of great honor and integrity who lived well. Thank you Bonnie for sharing coach with so many.
Greg Clewis, CAA
Myers Park High
Gus was a warm, caring, generous person and he will be missed in our family. We have fond memories of getting together with Gus and Bonnie during our visits to Laurinburg. You all are in our prayers!
Thomas, Kristie and Anna
Ten thousand words would not be enough to include all of the great stories and memories that I have of Coach Purcell. To have had the distinct pleasure of being a Mustang QB under the tutelage of the most innovative coach of his age is beyond description. Thank you Coach for all of the wonderful opportunities and lessons that you provided for me. I love you.
I played football on Gus's first two football teams at Myers Park H.S. in 1951 and 1952. Great teacher, friend and builder of men with character. He taught me that there was no "i" in "team". He proved to us that even if we were small and new to his system, we had good brains and needed to use them. It was the best of times.
We all went to his and Bonnie's home the night their son was born and came home. I am one of so many to have had the honor and pleasure of being part of Coach Purcell's legacy of excellence.
Class of 1953
Everyone has their favorite teachers they remember and mine was Coach Purcell. He was such an inspiration. May he rest in peace.
Though I never knew Coach Gus Purcell personally, I always had a great amount of respect for him. I played for Harry P. Harding High School under Coach Dave Harris and Myers Park was one of our biggest rivals. May the family know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.
Coach Purcell helped me become a champion. Like he was a champion. I loved him. Bobby Vandiver
Dear Purcell Family,
I am very sorry for your loss. Coach Purcell taught me that there are more important things in life than winning at all costs. My only ejectment from a game came after being hit in the head with a kick off ball; too much after the whistle contact. It was a close game with West Charlotte. Coach didn't get mad at me, he understood. I offered to change jerseys and he said "I don't play that kind of football." Coach Purcell played my kind of game. We tied West Charlotte because the kicker had been kicked out of the game. I appreciate everything Coach did for me.
" Coach Gus Purcell made it his business to personally welcome me to Myers Park when I transferred there from East Meck.( 78' ) He was a warm and personable man with a heart for teaching young people.
Thank you Coach for daring to dream . "
To the surviving family I offer my deepest condolences .
Ricky Hoey ( Gaffney , SC ) MP Class of 1980
As a H.S. Coach from Va. I worked the Gus Purcell Qb School from 1984 thru 2008 when the camp ended. Gus would call you up in Dec and make you feel like you were the most important part of his school. We had 150 Qb,s from all over the country. Each and every Qb was important to him as well as other staff members. Gus knew all of the big names in coaching. He could make one phone call and that Coach would be there ready to work in the hot sun. I have great respect for Gus. Thanks for letting me be a small part of this elete School. Bonnie, we will all miss this remarkable person.
I am saddened by the news of Gus's death. My prayers go to you Bonnie an to your wonderful family. To Lucy and Gary, I hope you will honor your father by the life he taught you to live, To all his Chldren, grandchildren, sisters and brothers, Son-in Laws and Daughter-in Laws, heaven just got another Angel to watch over us.
Bonnie, I'm sure you won't remember me, but I met you and Gus at the train station in Greensboro in early January, 1997. You were returning from a reunion trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. We shared photographs and newspaper clippings about the trip. In fact, I'm looking now at the note and photograph that you sent me. In the picture, which was taken by Gus, are Charlie and Sarah Justice, Leah Overman, you and me.
I can't begin to express my sadness when I saw in this morning's paper that Gus had died.
All of the UNC players from that era were my heroes growing up and they are still my heroes to this day.
In November, 1988, Charlie Justice wrote a letter to his teammates, thanking them for a special weekend they had in Chapel Hill. He closed the note with the following:
"I hope that when you form that team in your next gathering place above, you will pick me on your team at that time."
Charlie was selected for that team in October, 2003. Gus Purcell joined Charlie and many other teammates on Friday.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, Bonnie...may your memories bring you comfort.
4609 Brookhaven Dr.
Greensboro, NC 27406-8334
Bonnie and Family, When I pulled up the Charlotte Observer this morning I was distressed to read about Gus. In life we are never ready to lose our loved ones and the only comfort has to come from our Faith in the Sovereignty of God and the manifested concern of caring friends. Please know we are thinking of you and will hold you in our prayers. I will email this obituary to some of your old Lee Edwards Friends. Joe & Zunita Clark