Apr 15, 2011
Students at Apex High School and Salem Middle School were in mourning Thursday after the death of a popular teacher and coach.
Gene Daniels, 47, of Apex, died suddenly Wednesday night at his home.
Daniels was the athletic director and girls soccer coach at Salem Middle School, and was also the junior varsity girls soccer coach and varsity assistant coach at Apex High School.
Apex High athletic director Del Phillips said the school is grieving.
"I don't know what in the world you could say about what he meant to the school and the community," Phillips said. "I think more than just Apex High School, Gene was important to this entire community."
Daniels son, who is a student-athlete at Apex, found his father unresponsive on Wednesday night, according to Phillips. Paramedics attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful.
Phillips said some of the girls soccer players at the school have been coached by Daniels for nearly seven years.
"He was their coach at Salem, and obviously here for four years," Phillips said. "The girls are really hurt right now."
Students started a Facebook page for Daniels.
"I have some very fond memories of you and my time playing for you," one person wrote on the Facebook page. "You touched my life as well as the lives of so many others."
Daniels was a physical education teacher at Salem Middle School in addition to his athletic duties.
"Gene Daniels' impact on students and families in the Apex area can never be measured," Salem Middle School Principal Allen Ellzey said.
Daniels is the only athletic director to serve at Salem Middle School since it opened in 2004.
"He has become the very heart and soul of this Salem community and his shoes will never be filled," said Ellzey. "The untold impact he has had on the futures of students and student-athletes will live on forever."
Wake County Public School's Senior Director of Athletics Bobby Guthrie interacted with Daniels in his role as the athletic director at Salem. Guthrie said he always got a positive vibe from Daniels.
"The AD meetings he was in, he was just so energized and positive," Guthrie said. "I remember thinking to myself, this is the perfect kind of guy for middle school athletics."
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Thursday at the Apex High School stadium.
Visitation will be held from 1-3 p.m., at Apex Baptist Church on Sunday. The funeral service will follow.
"He has left an incredible legacy for not only his family, but countless families in Wake County," said Ellzey.
Apex was slated to play Lee County in girls soccer tonight, but those games have been postponed.
All afternoon activities for students and staff were canceled at Salem, and the school dance scheduled for Friday has also been called off.