Jody Sory

Longtime basketball coach Jody Sory passed away on Feb. 16 at age 75.

After dropping off my nephew after school at his house on Wednesday, I started back to Tyler when my low gas fuel signal flashed.

So I took a right and headed up the Van Highway to a gas station by Interstate 20, thinking I had plenty of gas.

All of a sudden my car stopped about 100 yards from my destination. I usually have about 25 miles or more remaining when the notice sounds, but not this time. I have to get that checked out

With it raining, I started trekking up the road.

To and from, and at the gas station, I had some seven cars stop and ask if I needed help. What a wonderful feeling that folks would take time to check.

When I got back to my car, another young man stopped and assisted me with getting the gas in the tank.

Those Good Samaritans made me think of Coach Jody Sory, who passed away earlier this week at age 75.

Coach Sory was like those Good Samaritans, always offering a helping hand.

Not only was he a great basketball coach, but an educator, a good friend and a kind soul.

He coached around the area in Lindale (taking the Eagles to the state tournament in 1983), Henderson, Center, Mount Enterprise, Troup and Tyler Lee, among other stops.

Everyone had a story about Coach Sory.

“This man helped make me the athlete that I was,” said former Major Leaguer Pat Mahomes, who played for Coach Sory at Lindale. “I am devastated. He showed me tough love and how to get the most out of myself. RIP coach. You were one of a kind.”

Longtime coach Larry Hargett noted Coach Sory was the best man at his wedding and said, “he was the best.”

Former Tyler Morning Telegraph sports writer Burt Henry wrote on Facebook, “A good fellow. Let me use his house one late night to write and file my game story. RIP, Jody.”

Back when Burt and I started our sports writing careers, it was very difficult to find places to send our stories back to the newspaper. You had to find a certain phone line that would connect with our computers. It was nothing like today where the internet is readily available. With deadline approaching, it was always a task to get connected.

Coach Sory, whether win or lose, was always helpful. He reminded me of Coach Tom Landry, as gracious in defeat as well as victory. Coach Sory touched a lot of lives on the court as well as in the classroom.

He was born in Aurora, Colorado, on Dec. 23, 1944. Shortly thereafter his family moved to Nacogdoches, where he attended school, graduating from Nacogdoches High School in 1963. He then attended Stephen F. Austin State University where he played basketball for the Lumberjacks.

After graduating from SFA in 1968, he married the love of his life, Carol Clark Sory. As newlyweds they moved to Center, where he began his career as a basketball coach. He later earned his master’s degree in 1988 from Sul Ross State University.

In 2014, Coach Sory concluded his 44-year coaching career, retiring from Troup ISD.

He was a member of the South Main Church of Christ since 1986, and also served as a deacon.

Memorial services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at South Main Church of Christ in Henderson.

Bro. Bob Payne, Stanley Smith and Robert Gill will officiate under the direction of Crawford-A. Crim Funeral Home. Family visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. until service time at the church.

Coach Sory is survived by his loving wife of 49 years, Carol, his two daughters, Kelli Sory Tillison of Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Kati Sory Newton and husband Spencer of Grapevine; five grandchildren, Kaylie Ann Sory, Averie Grace Wherry, Jack Hayward Tillison, Tucker Mann Tillison and William Hawkins Newton; and his sister Nancy Mullins and husband Jerry of Hideaway. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, and a grandson Samuel Joseph Tillison.

Honorary pallbearers will be Robert Gill, Tommy Freeman, Clay Freeman, Darwin Pauley, William Brown, Charlie Franklin, John Morrow, Joe Mullins, Doug Hopkins, Larry Reedy, Larry Vanzandt, Mike Melton, Shane Colston, Terry Smith, Stanley Smith, Richard Cooper, Steve Miller, Randy Miller, Rickey Dudley, Adren Dudley, Jake Goode, Tyrell Jenkins, Cleveland Brown, Jimmy Watson, Wade Watson, Mark Alexander and Dennis Alexander.

So we say goodbye to another friend, but we can treasure the memories of Coach Sory.


Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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