Family members and close friends of longtime educator and beloved Coach Vance Heard gathered to remember him in a private viewing on Tuesday.
Heard passed way this weekend after a battle with cancer.
The beloved coach's family is grateful for the support coming from far and wide -- former students, fellow teachers and coaches, and people that Heard inspired have all been calling to offer their condolences.
"It's impossible to put a number on it. The number of lives he's touched," said O.J. Heard, Coach Heard's son. "The response, the support that we've gotten as a family, has been, ah, it's nothing that we expected."
"You know, you're talking about people from the 70s. Grandfathers. Grandmothers. Mothers. Dads. Their children," said Michael Goines, Heard's son. "He's touched so many people, so many ways, it's, it's amazing."
Heard's sons knew their dad was loved by many, but they never expected the overwhelming number condolences coming from across the nation from those whose lives he touched.
"Coach Heard was a father to all of us," said Marlon Chambers, a former student of Miller High School, where Heard coached and taught. "Coming out of here playing at Miller, a lot of them had single-parent homes, and Coach Heard was a father. He was a figure that we all knew, and he was always there for us no matter what."
Chambers was one of Heard's students. Besides teaching him to a be good athlete, Chambers said that Coach Heard inspired him to be a better man.
"Man, when I think about Coach Heard, I think about all when I was a freshman coming through Miller gym. He said a man without a vision of life shall perish, and that has always stuck with me, and has always made me dream, and go off to college. Off to college football and basketball," Chambers said. "Like I said, I owe my life to Coach Heard and everything he taught me, and what he told me, and that's why I'm here today."
A public celebration of Coach Vance Heard's life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Oveal Williams Community Center.
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