Arthur “Coach Art” Blevins, 62, passed away peacefully Friday morning after a short but tough battle with pancreatic cancer.
While the cancer may have taken his body, his spirit never gave up the fight. He was an angel among men, so we know that God was eagerly awaiting his arrival.
Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, Blevins spent the majority of his life in Winston-Salem. After graduating from Parkland High School in 1976, he began his nearly 40-year career with the Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation department, starting at Forest Park Summer Playground in 1978. He then moved to Skyland Recreation Center (1979-82), Rupert Bell Park (1983-84), South Fork (1985-1992), and finally Hanes Hosiery Community Center (1992-2017), where the gymnasium is named in his honor.
Over the years, Blevins coached and mentored thousands of children and teens throughout the city. From creating and hosting the annual “Hang the Net” celebrity shootout every summer; to coaching basketball, baseball, and flag football teams; to taking his players to unlimited pizza night at Cici’s Pizza, he went above and beyond in everything that he did for his “kids.” He taught them that competition wasn’t all about winning - it was about showing respect, trying your hardest, and being a good teammate -- all while having fun.
In addition to coaching some of the most competitive teams the state had ever seen, Blevins continuously went above and beyond to serve his community. He always made sure every child who came up to “the Hosiery” had a meal to eat and a shirt to wear. Even after his retirement in 2017, Blevins spent his free time taking youth to Wake Forest sporting events through the Coach’s Kids Program and buying Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas presents for those in need. His official time with the city may have ended in 2017, but his service to this community continued well past that.
Blevins received many awards for his work throughout Winston-Salem, including being named the City of Winston-Salem Employee of the Year in 1993 and the Winston-Salem Journal’s “Our Community Hero Award” in 2002. He was also inducted into the Winston-Salem Forsyth County High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and the inaugural class for Parkland High School’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. While the accolades are numerous and the recognition well-deserved, he always insisted he didn’t deserve it. He lived by the Golden Rule of treating other people how he wanted to be treated, and he demonstrated this in every aspect of his life.
Blevins is preceded in death by his stepfather, Kenneth Ferris Sr. and his father-in-law, Richard M. Gooley. He is survived by his incredible wife of nearly 30 years, Ruth Anne, whom he lovingly referred to as his “Trish;” beloved daughter, Kayla Stewart and wonderful son-in-law Bobby Stewart; mother, Ann Ferris; mother-in-law Mary Anne Gooley; brothers Kenneth Ferris Jr. (Joanna) and Joel Ferris; sister Mary Lou Greene (Ronnie); sisters-in-law Mary Beth Yates (Tim) and Susan King (Greg Sr.). Also surviving him are his nieces and nephews, Matt Yates (Sarah); Andrew Yates (Victoria); Phillip Yates; Steffie King; John Yates; Cole Greene (Lauren); Greg King Jr. (Devin); and Dylan Greene; and his great niece and great nephews, Sara Yates; Grayson and Austin Yates; and Jackson King. His four-legged companions Gio and Ty, and his grandkitty Zeke, are already missing his presence, as we all are.
Due to the pandemic, there are no services planned at this time. At a later date, when it is safe to gather, there will be a larger-than-life celebration for the larger-than-life man who blessed this world for 62 incredible years.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to Dr. Michael McCormack Jr. and staff at the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center for all they did to support Art during his illness. They would also like to thank the wonderful staff at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home for showing such kindness and compassion for Art and the family during his final days.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Art’s memory. And, in the spirit of Coach Art, take some time this week to do something nice for someone else. Be kind. Call a friend. Make a poster. Tell someone you love them. Leave the world a better place than when you found it - Art Blevins certainly did.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Arthur T. "Coach Art" Blevins, please visit our floral store.