HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WNC) — The Hope Mills community is grieving after one of the town’s prominent leaders passed away.
Eddie Dees, 62, was a former mayor and state championship softball coach.
Debbie Jones, who owns Hope Mills Plaza Florist, said “I bet you probably three quarters of Hope Mills, he’s probably taught them or taught their children.”
Dees was an educator, three term city mayor and renowned softball coach. Dees taught high school English for nearly 40 years in Cumberland County schools.
Robert Jones, 24, is one of Dees’ former students.
Jones said “we all knew just what his legacy was in the sense that this is a state championship winning coach, now we have him as a teacher.”
Dees coached softball throughout Fayetteville for over 30 years.
In 1993, the South View Tigers won the state championship under Dees’ leadership.
This past May, Freedom Christian Academy also became state champions with Dees as their head coach.
Dees died early Monday morning after battling cancer. Months ago, Debbie Jones partnered with other business owners selling t-shirts for Dees’ medical care.
Jones said “I went to the house two different occasions to bring money that we raised from the t-shirts and you can see that he was overwhelmed by the amount of people that he really touched.”
Jones says they’ll continue to sell the shirts and the proceeds will go to Dees’ family.
The coach is survived by his wife Susan and twin daughters Casey and Carey. He also leaves behind a strong legacy of leadership, strength and courage.
Tiffany Falgioni said “He was the kind of guy that would give his shirt off his back to you, it didn’t matter who you were, he’d help with whatever you need.”
Robert Jones said “I’ll remember him as a phenomenal guy that any time I talked to him, he made me feel better about myself, made me strive to be a better person.”
A visitation for Dees is scheduled for Wednesday at South View High School at 5 p.m. His funeral is Thursday at South View Baptist Church at 2 p.m.