FISHERSVILLE, Va. (WHSV) -- Hearts are heavy in Augusta County this week. Longtime Wilson Memorial High School cross country and track coach Gary Kessler passed away Friday at 64-years-old.
"His demeanor and just the way he worked with his student athletes at Wilson," Wilson Memorial varsity baseball head coach said.
"Just a calm demeanor and a great personality and he really did a good job with that."
Kessler led the Green Hornets to multiple state titles, including a cross country title in 2013 and the girls outdoor track title in 2018. According to Wilson Memorial athletic director Craig Flesher, Kessler led the boys indoor track team to its first title ever in 2019.
Spencer Tuttle, now a freshman at Virginia Tech, was a member of the 2018 team.
"He's the best mentor in the world and I know even if you weren't one of his athletes, you saw him in the school," Tuttle said. "He knew every single kid in Wilson Memorial high school and he cared about every single student he had interactions with."
Kessler had coached at Wilson Memorial since 1992 and there is no doubt he made a significant impact on the entire community.
"My main memory of him wasn't from coaching track or cross country, it was actually from me working bus duty," Flesher said. "He would wait for his granddaughter to get off the bus. And he would wait for her every single day, until she got there, and he would have a moment with her and his wife, who was our longtime receptionist, before he would head off to whatever practice he was going to that day."
A memorial has been set up at the flag pole at the school.