CARY — Sandra Kay Yow, 66, of Cary, N.C., died peacefully Saturday, January 24, 2009, after a courageous and inspirational battle with cancer.
The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Colonial Baptist Church, 6051 Tryon Road, Cary NC 27518, with Pastor Mitchell Gregory. The burial will take place 10 a.m. Saturday, January 31, at the Gibsonville City Cemetery, 1208 Springwood Ave. Gibsonville, NC 27249.
Born on March 14, 1942, in Gibsonville, N.C., to Hilton Lee and Elizabeth Cora Scoggins Yow, she was the oldest of four children. She received her Bachelor degree in English, with a minor in library science, from East Carolina University in 1964 and her Master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro in 1971. She was a member of Cary Alliance Church.
For more than four decades, she was a basketball coach, a teacher and role model to the players she coached at Allen Jay High School in High Point, N.C.; Gibsonville High School; Elon College and NC State University. She taught them to be fiercely competitive in the game she learned to love from her parents, yet accept both their wins and losses with grace and dignity.
She won eight NCAIAW state championships at Elon and NC State, guided the Wolfpack to four ACC Tournament titles and was honored as the state, ACC and national coach of the year on multiple occasions. In 1998, she took the Wolfpack to the Final Four, the pinnacle of her 20 trips to the NCAA Tournament.
On December 14, 2008, in her next to last game on the sidelines, she became just the third coach in history to coach more than 1,000 games at the same school. In 38 years as a college coach, she compiled a 737-344 record.
In 1986, she led the United States to gold medals in the World University Games and the Goodwill Games. In 1988, she was the head coach of the United States that won an Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea, just 10 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2002, she became just the fifth woman in history to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, for her national and international success as a coach and her pioneering efforts to grow women’s college basketball.
Her greatest victories, however, came not on the basketball court, but in her public battles with cancer, the disease that claimed her mother, Lib; her hero, Everett Case; and her friend, Jim Valvano. First diagnosed in 1987, she lived cancer-free until 2004. Over the last five years, she waged a gracious fight, never complaining and always maintaining a positive outlook in the face of painful and arduous treatments. “When life kicks you,” she said, “let it kick you forward.”
She was a role model to millions, a friend to many and a kind, smiling companion to strangers.
Kay found her strength and courage through her relationship with Jesus Christ, whom she accepted in 1975. She studied His words in the Bible, and lived them on a daily basis. She found peace and comfort in her final days, knowing that she had done good work here on earth and her next place would be at her Savior’s side.
She is survived by her brother, Ronnie Yow of Greensboro, N.C.; sisters, Deborah Ann Yow and husband, Dr. William Bowden of College Park, Md., and Susan Lee Yow of Charlotte, N.C.; nephews, Jason Andrew Yow and wife, Melissa Ann, Zachary Lee Yow, and James Dylan Yow; and one great- niece, Isabelle Kay Yow.
A public viewing will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Friday, January 30, at the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and mailed to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, 106 Towerview Court, Cary, NC 27513, Phone: (919) 380-9505 (Toll free 1-800-4JimmyV), https://www.jimmyv.org/support-us/donate-now.html or Cary Alliance Church, 4108 Ten Ten Road, Apex, NC 27539, (919) 467-9331.
Audio and written condolences may be sent to the family at www.brownwynne. com