Longtime BHS coach Sam Page dies at 75

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By Robert Howey

Sam Page, a former Buford High School head football coach who remained a big part of the school’s athletic family for three decades, died Thursday. He was 75.
Page, whose health had declined in recent years, died in his sleep at his home in the Buford community.
“For 30 years, Coach Page had his hands in the Buford sports programs in some way,” said Buford Athletics Director Eric Funderburk. “When I got the news, it hit me hard. I had Coach Page as a driver’s ed teacher, and he coached me in football.
“When I came to Buford to be the baseball coach in 2008, he hired me here…. He always inspired me to do my best,” said Funderburk. “Even when coach Page wasn’t coaching, he was here as a supporter, behind us all the way.”
Page, a Woodruff native and star athlete there, came to Buford in 1984 and served as the Yellow Jackets’ head football coach and athletics director until 1988.
During his 30-year coaching stint at the eastern Lancaster County school, Page was athletics director for 13 years and worked with the football program for 29 years. He also coached golf and softball at BHS.
Mike Wells, who retired as the Jackets’ athletics director last spring, came to Buford when Page was hired in 1984.
“Sam was like a father-figure to me,” Wells said. “He helped me and my wife Sheri so much. He and his wife Margaret were so supportive of our family.”
Sam and Margaret met in college. She became a math teacher, and they worked in school systems around the Carolinas. She ended up spending 50 years in the classroom, retiring from Buford High this year.
They had three daughters and four grandchildren.
Longtime Buford football statistician and Jackets fan Bill Allen said Page came to BHS from West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, N.C., after many years of coaching.
“He was somewhat mellow, maybe not as tough on the kids at that time in his career, but at the same time, he brought some good coaches with him in Steve Lewis and coach Mike Wells.”
Page had also coached football at Goose Creek and Estill high schools in South Carolina.
“Coach Page cared for kids he coached and taught, and genuinely loved coaching,” Allen said. “I enjoyed being around coach Page, and he did some good things for Buford.”
Page, during his high school career at Woodruff, was an outstanding athlete for the Wolverines.
He later played college baseball at Wilmington College in North Carolina, now known as UNC Wilmington. He pitched in the junior college World Series, according to Wells.
Funderburk recalled a special moment a few years back during a coaching convention.
He was eating with legendary Summerville High football coach John McKissick, a member of the National High School Hall of Fame.
“Coach McKissick told me that Sam was one of the best athletes he ever saw play in South Carolina,” Funderburk said. “I always had a high opinion of Coach Page, but after that, it just made him more special, especially coming from a great coach like John McKissick.”
Wells said Page was well-known across the state.
“When I was the Buford AD, no matter where I went in the state, coaches would always ask me about Coach Page,” Wells said. “He had a lot of connections across the state, and we’ve been blessed to have him as a part of our community.”
“He was tough on us at times,” Funderburk said. “But deep down, we all knew he loved and cared for us and wanted the best for us.”