Peal had big impact on many

It is with the greatest of sadness that I learned of the passing of Dr. Jeff Peal last week. I offer my sincerest condolences to Renee and the family. I know there will be many tributes written but I wanted to add mine in the mix due to my deep respect for this giant of a man and for what he meant to me. I first met Dr. Peal in the fall of 1987 when he came to a football practice for the Mulberry-Fairplains Ruritan football team. He was inquiring of the eighth-graders on who would be coming to North Wilkes the following year. I will never forget him asking me where I was going to high school as he was leaving. I said North Wilkes. He pumped his fist and said “Alright!”

Little did I know then the massive impact this man would have on the rest of my life, starting in that fall of 1988. I was blessed to play for four years on the football team at North Wilkes with him as my line coach. I also decided to wrestle at his urging during my senior year. That is a decision I will always cherish as everything came together for me as I learned to be a man. Jeff Peal was the man that taught me so much about what it is to be a man. He was such a positive influence. My parents loved him. He pushed me to do more and to be something greater than I ever thought I could be. He gave me my first shot at coaching and helped set the stage for me in what has been a wonderful, fulfilling career.

Anyone who was lucky enough to come across him during those days at North Wilkes from the late 1980s to the late 1990s was truly fortunate indeed. You might not always have liked what he told you, but he was going to tell you the truth exactly when you needed to hear it. I, for one, am forever thankful. He made champions and men where once stood boys. I can think of nothing better than a life lived in such a pursuit. He lived it well. He had retired from education, but who was surprised to learn of his untimely passing while chaperoning a trip with kids to a wrestling camp? Helping kids to the end. Building men to the end. Thank you, coach. You made a difference in this world. I am proud and honored to say that, along with so many others, I loved you too.

DALE ELLIS, ED. D Superintendent, Montgomery County Schools, Troy, N.C.

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