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Gilmer coach remembered as one of the good guys

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

GLENVILLE -- David Jaffre was one of the good guys.

That is how Glenville residents and co-workers described the 46-year-old Gilmer County High School teacher and baseball coach following his death.

Jaffre suffered an apparent heart attack Tuesday afternoon during a baseball game in Clarksburg.

Those who live and work in the small community of Glenville expressed shock, disbelief and an overwhelming sadness Wednesday afternoon as they slowly came to terms with the tragedy.

"It is so sad. He was so young," said Louise Galenza, director of the Gilmer County Public Library.

Although Galenza didn't know Jaffre personally, she was well aware of his reputation.

"He was extremely well respected in the community and a good educator," Galenza said.

It is evident the town is in mourning.

Residents were quiet and reflective as they went through their day, remembering Jaffre and his contributions to the community.

"He had you laughing all the time," said library aide Pat Spalding.

Spalding has three sons enrolled at the high school and her daughter graduated last year.

Her daughter Kristy ran track and has fond memories of Jaffre being the highlight of athletic banquets with his quick-witted sense of humor, Spalding said.

"All the kids, even the ones who have graduated, are taking it hard," Spalding said.

Administrators and co-workers in the educational system were also reeling from the loss.

"He was with us 22 years," said Superintendent Rick Butler.

"When someone of his quality and character is lost, it leaves a big hole that the community will feel for a long time," Butler said.

Butler worked with Jaffre at the high school for five years when Butler served as principal.

"He was probably the best social studies teacher I ever saw operate. He made it interesting and fun," Butler said.

Jaffre was popular with the students, said school board Director David Bishop.

He was repeatedly voted favorite teacher by the senior class when they chose senior superlatives, Bishop said. "He was able to get kids excited about history."

Jaffre not only spurred student's interest in social studies, but also in athletics.

He had been the baseball coach for 12 years and also served as an assistant football coach at the school for 15 years until the 1999 season. He was an assistant coach for the seventh-and eighth-grade team in 1999.
"The boys always wanted to play for him. He was a class act," said attorney Paul Woodford, who has three boys who all played sports for Jaffre.

Woodford was present at the game Tuesday afternoon when Jaffre collapsed. His son Lance, one of the team's pitchers, was on the mound when it happened.

"I'll always remember he had a quick wit and got along well with the boys," Woodford said.

The team is in shock but were scheduled to practice Wednesday evening.

"I think the best thing to do is to try and get them back out on the field," Woodford said.

Counselors and ministers were at the school on Wednesday helping students cope with their grief, according to Butler.

An assembly is planned for students this morning at the school, Butler said. "It will give the kids time as a group to acknowledge this and pay respect."

As the town absorbs the loss of an educator, coach, friend, co-worker, husband, and father, the outpouring of love continues from those that knew him.

"His basic character could allow nothing but excellence, in terms of what he expected from himself and from his students. They loved him," said Butler.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1443.

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