ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Permian High School football legend coach Gary Gaines, 73, died Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the family announced in a statement tonight.
The footballing giant joined the Permian coaching staff in 1979 where he served as an assistant coach under then head coach John Wilkins. He held that position until 1981 and was instrumental in helping the Panthers win the state championship in 1980. Gaines was featured in the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, written by HG Bissinger. Bissinger spent a year in Odessa researching the West Texas football phenomenon; his bestseller chronicled the sport and its impact on an oil community.
Upon Wilkins’ retirement in 1985, Gaines returned to PHS as head coach and once again led the team to the championship. He left Permian in 1989 but returned two decades later as head coach in 2009 – he remained until 2012 when he announced his retirement. His career spanned four decades, coaching at eight Texas high schools for 30 seasons; he also coached at two Lone Star State colleges.
“Thank you for remembering our family in your thoughts and prayers,” the Gaines family said.
Plans for the memorial will be announced in the coming days and we will update them as this information becomes available.