Two Former WVU Football Players Pass Away
Two former Mountaineer football players passed away this past week – Roy Lester and Gary Pounds.
Lester was born in Reedy, West Virginia, in 1923, and developed into a multi-sport star, first at Spencer High School and then at WVU. Lettering in football, basketball and baseball for the Mountaineers from 1946-49, Lester put together a playing career that ultimately led to his induction into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
After graduating with a degree in political science, he began a career teaching and coaching. Much of Lester’s time was spent coaching in the high school ranks, though he was an assistant at the University of Maryland from 1956-58 and returned to College Park to serve as the Terrapins’ head coach from 1969-71. He had just a 7-25 record as head coach at UM, which included an 0-2 mark against his alma mater. He lost to Jim Carlen’s Mountaineers 31-7 in 1969 in Morgantown and then the following year to Carlen’s successor, Bobby Bowden, 20-10, at Byrd Stadium.
After being relieved of his duties at Maryland following the 1971 season, Lester returned to the high school ranks, where again he found incredible success. In all, he won nearly 300 games in his career and was voted into the Maryland Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. Lester coached future NFL all-pro linebacker Mike Curtis at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, Maryland in the early ‘60s. Ironically, Curtis died two weeks prior to his former high school coach. Lester also recruited future College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy White to Maryland in 1971.
In retirement, Lester resided in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he passed away on May 3 at the age of 96.
Pounds also died on May 3 after a lengthy illness. He was 56 years old.
A lineman for the Mountaineers in the mid-80s, Pounds came to WVU after a stellar career at McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio, where he helped the Tigers win the 1981 state championship. He spent his first couple years at West Virginia as a defensive tackle before moving over to offensive guard, where he emerged as a major contributor in 1985 for Don Nehlen’s Mountaineers.
Married for the past 17 years to Wanda Pounds, Gary graduated from West Virginia with a Bachelors of Science degree and then returned to his hometown of Canton, where he spent nearly three decades mentoring area adolescents.