GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Northwest Guilford High School community is mourning the loss of a beloved veteran, coach and teacher.
Paul Egelston, or Coach E as he was better known, coached cross country and track and taught history. He was also a decorated veteran.
On Friday night, his students planned and hosted a vigil for him at town park and shared their best memories.
Coach E had just turned 59 when he died earlier this month, but he dedicated every day of his life to others, whether it was through teaching or through the Army.
Egleston served in Iraq where he was awarded a bronze star. He retired in 2019.
“With him being the high rank that he was and learning about his time in Iraq and learning about the … 20 plus years he spent, it’s shown me an open eye view of his life there and his life back home,” said student Addison Bryant.
His students also say he was a hero as a coach.
“He truly not only coached us for the sport. He coached us for life, and he made sure we were ready for the world … whether that’s in the classroom or at a job,” said Lockwood Greene, a student.
He started teaching at Northwest Guilford High School in 1995. His love for history was an easy combination with his passion for athletics and getting to make corny jokes.
“He would say, ‘Whoever made their bed this morning is getting candy,’” Greene said.
On Friday night, students shared the legacy Coach E has left with them and what they’ll remember when times get tough.
“Every time I felt like I needed to give up or I was going to give up, he was always there to say … ‘You got this. You gotta keep running,’” said Nina Kuhn, student and vigil organizer.
He enjoyed the beach and fishing. By all accounts, what he loved most was supporting his students who say they’ll never forget Coach E and what he meant to them.
“He was constantly pushing you. He wanted you to be the best person you could be, and he would put himself out there so you could put yourself out there,” said Kara Dell, a student.
“Keep running. That’s all he would tell everybody. Run,” Kuhn said.
The school has offered counseling for students as they process this deep and sudden loss.