C.E. Francis died this week. His passing is a significant note in Ashe County history because of his influence on generations of young people.
In a quirky turn of events, he left this world only days before he was to be recognized for his service to the community through one of the things he did best, coach young people.
Coach Francis’ biography reads like a history of Ashe County schools.
He graduated from Healing Springs High School, studied education at Appalachian State Teachers College in the 1930s.
Then like many Ashe educators who return top the home they love, he came back and coached basketball at Healing Springs then Jefferson High School then Ashe Central.
He had been teaching 20 years when he became part of the school consolidation to Ash Central.
He continued coaching until 1972, a career that spanned 33 years. That means he easily coached two generations of Ashe athletes and likely touched the third generation.
He did it winning in basketball, softball and golf. He did it showing students how to learn, achieve, strive and succeed.
That means he taught them the little things about character that can be used in all areas of life.
It is a legacy of teaching and coaching unmatched in other professions.
Few areas of labor have the reach to directly touch lives in such basic practical ways in three generations.
Ashe owes a great deal to the C.E. Francises of our community who offer their time and energy to build better people and a better place to live.
On Saturday as the Ashe County Sports Hall of Fame remembers C.E. Francis, we can all know haw he touched the lives of athletes and students who became adults and passed heir lessons from him on to the future.