NCHSAA Hall of Fame Member Paul Gay Passes at 90

NCHSAA Hall of Fame member and former NCHSAA Board of Directors member, Coach Paul Gay, from Sanford, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 90. 

Paul Gay became one of North Carolina’s most successful head football coaches, primarily at Sanford Central High School (now Lee Senior). Gay came to Sanford in 1960 after brief stints in Lancaster, S.C., and at Raleigh Broughton. From then until 1985, when he stepped down, his teams compiled a brilliant 177-75-10 record. That run included eight conference championships, one state title (in 1973, when he was Associated Press Coach of the Year in the state) and one runner-up finish, and four regional championships when that was as far as a team could go and there was no state championship game.

He was head coach of the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team in 1977 and also coached in the East-West all-star game in Greensboro. Gay was a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Coaches Association and was the first North Carolinian to be chosen as president of the National Federation Interscholastic Coaches Association. Gay was a great athlete at Charles Coon High in Wilson and then earned all-state honors at East Carolina in football. Lee’s football stadium now proudly bears his name.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 3:00pm Saturday (3/19/2022) at St Luke United Methodist Church in Sanford. The family will greet friends in the Davenport Christian Life Center at the church from 1:00 until 2:45pm Saturday.