Funeral held for Hall of Famer Sam Moir

Published 9:15 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018

By Dennis Davidson

SALISBURY — The funeral for Hall of Fame college basketball coach Sam Moir was held Saturday afternoon at Catawba College’s Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.

Moir, a member of eight halls of fame, died Oct. 20 at the N.C. Veterans Home on the campus of VA Medical Center. He was 94.

Moir coached nearly 1,000 games at Catawba for 34 seasons (1960-94), compiling a record of 546-399. The Indians won seven championships under Moir, including NAIA District 26 titles in 1982 and 1983. Both of those teams advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City and the 1983 team’s 29-4 record is still the best in school history.

The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Clapp, chaplain at Catawba, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Lance, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Salisbury, and Rev. Dr. Victor Cole, former senior pastor at First Baptist Church (1967-76).

Moir was a long-time member of First Baptist Church, an important part of the late coach’s life, according to Lance and Cole.

Lance pointed out that while Moir was well-known in collegiate athletics circles, Saturday was a much more important day for the family.

“He was much more than a name on a basketball court,” said Lance. “And while he was a mentor to his former players and friends, Sam Moir was also a father, a grandfather and a brother.”

Moir’s survivors include sons, Ron and Mike, a daughter-in-law (Ron’s wife, Lisa), four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Also surviving is a brother, Charles, and honorary family member Susan Smith.

Moir’s wife, Betty, preceded him in death in 2001, after 55 years of marriage.

Lance said that instead of isolating himself over the years, Moir continued to be a teacher and a mentor.

“Sam Moir lived to coach and lead young men and women to find their places in the world,” continued Lance. “The list of folks who would come up here and say that they became better men or women because of Sam Moir would take all afternoon.”

Cole also spoke of Moir’s dedication to others, including himself. Moir helped Cole get into shape in the late 1960s, meeting him at the Catawba track for workout sessions in the mornings. The workouts formed a lifetime friendship, added Cole.

“It’s a great privilege to be here today, because Sam Moir was always there for me,” said Cole.

Clapp, too, spoke of a friendship with Moir that lasted over five decades. He told some humorous stories of the early coaching career of Moir.

“The 1960s were a time in college basketball when some of the coaches were as entertaining to the fans as the players,” said Clapp. “Early on, Sam Moir was like that too, occasionally going into a rant on the sideline and kicking or throwing something.

“Years later, I mentioned to Sam that I hadn’t seen him kick a chair in a while,” continued Clapp. “He said that he had to stop kicking chairs ‘due to the cost of replacing his nice, Florsheim shoes.'”

As mentioned by Lance, the basketball court at Catawba’s Goodman Gym was named in Moir’s honor after his retirement, as well as the Catawba men’s basketball most valuable player award, given annually to the current team’s top player.

Moir is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the halls of fame for the NAIA, Catawba College, South Atlantic Conference  and Salisbury-Rowan County, Oak Ridge Academy, Mt. Airy and Surry County. He has received Appalachian State’s Distinguished Service Award.

The Sam Moir Christmas Classic, a high school holiday tournament for Rowan and Davie counties’ boys and girls teams, has been held every December at Catawba since 1971.

Moir began the high school tournament to assist with expenses of his college team during Christmas break. It grew larger in popularity than he ever imagined and the event was re-named in his honor in 1996.

Along with assistant coaches Tom Bonebrake, Bill Haggerty and Jim Baker, Moir established summer basketball camps that were enjoyed by thousands of area youth for over 30 years.

Haggerty and five former players — Bonebrake, Tom Childress, Mike Cooke, Andre Godfrey and Brandon Christie —were honorary pall bearers on Saturday. Dr. Renee McCachren, a professor at Catawba, provided music for the service.