CHARMCO, W.Va. — The student body at Greenbrier West High School lined U.S. Route 60 on Friday when the funeral procession of Russ Gilkeson passed by, honoring the coach, trainer and school supporter who died suddenly last weekend.
Greenbrier West principal Amy Robertson told MetroNews about 100 students attended Friday’s funeral including the senior football players who served as pallbearers. She said the show of support from the rest of the students was emotional.
“After we left the church the entire school came out to Route 60 as the funeral procession passed by. I kept it together all day long until I saw my kids standing there,” Robertson said.
Gilkeson spent decades in the community coaching different sports. His death came just two days after he and his wife were given the keys to a new house in Rainelle, which was built on their property by the Appalachia Service Project following the June 23 flood.
Coach G’s death, some two months after severe flood damage, has made for a difficult time for the community, Robertson said.
“It shows just how much we care about each other and how much he meant to this school,” she said.
Gilkeson’s memory was honored at the Greenbrier West football game Friday night. Flowers were placed on the golf cart he used at the games. His memory was also honored in a post-game ceremony. Coach G was a veteran and Friday night was the annual Veteran’s Appreciation Night at Greenbrier West.
Senior football players said one final goodbye to their friend and mentor at Friday’s graveside service.
“After the family was given the flag, all the boys came by the casket and touched the casket,” Robertson said.