GREENSBORO — The Dudley High School community has lost one of its coaching legends.
William “Bill” Boyers Jr., 82, died Monday night.
A teacher and coach at the school from 1956 to 1995, Boyers is a member of Dudley’s Hall of Fame. The track at the school was named in his honor in 2013.
“It’s hard to put into words the feelings I have for Mr. Boyers,” said Stahlé Vincent, a Dudley alumnus and Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame member. “This is a somber time for the Dudley family.”
Boyers was a coach for Dudley’s football team for 35 years. He was the school’s track coach for 34 years, the wrestling coach for 20 years, a basketball coach for five years and a baseball coach for a year.
He coached Vincent, who went on to play college football at Rice University and became the first African-American to play quarterback in the Southwest Conference.
“He was a tough man who competed until the whistle blew, and he expected his players to be the same way,” Vincent said. “... Our practices were very hard. In fact, the toughest practices I had during my entire football career were the ones during my first year at Dudley. Mr. Boyers would tell us afterward that he was getting us ready to face a world that was hard and not always fair.”
Boyers also coached tight end Charlie Sanders, who went on to play for the Detroit Lions from 1968 through 1977 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Boyers introduced Sanders to the crowd an October day in 2013 when Dudley unveiled a plaque honoring the player. Sanders saw other plaques honoring Boyers, Jonathan McKee and William Furcron.
Sanders was moved.
“I was astounded,” said Sanders, who died in 2015. “My first thought was: ‘Your life was touched by greatness.’ Those three men were instrumental in my life. ... It was a tough time back then for young black athletes. The coaches were fundamentally sound and stern. Rarely did you see a soft side of them. They had to project that tough image.”
It was just an image with Boyers, who dedicated his life to children. He was a foster parent and a member of the Children’s Home Society.
“He was the type of man that you wanted your children to be around during their teenage years,” Vincent said. “He was a surrogate father for numerous students. He made the whole concept of working hard, setting clear goals and doing things the right way very plain and logical. His approach was tough love with a healthy dose of compassion.
“I do not know of anyone who knew him who did not respect him. He had a great sense of humor and an astonishing memory.”
Boyers grew up in Milwaukee. He earned a bachelor’s degree at N.C. A&T, where he earned All-CIAA and All-America honors playing football. He is a member of A&T’s Hall of Fame.
Boyers served two years in the army before taking a teaching job at Dudley in 1956.
A memorial service honoring his life will be held Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 812 Duke St., Greensboro. Visitation begins at 11 a.m. with the service at noon. Arrangements are by Perry J. Brown Funeral Home.