Bill Gaston (also known as “Coach”, “Billy”, and “Poppa”) died Sunday, February 9, 2014. He passed away peacefully with his family gathered around his bedside holding his hands. Born in Los Angeles, California on July 19, 1934, he always said he was a “true Texan” and he got here as soon as he could. His family moved to Nacogdoches when he was six years old. He graduated from Nacogdoches High School in 1952. After serving two years in the Army as a medic, he attended Stephen F. Austin State University where he received his degree in 1960. Beginning his coaching and teaching career in Douglas, he coached girls and boys basketball and also put in baseball. At Alto, he coached boys and girls basketball, (high school and junior high) and was assistant football coach. While attending SFA graduate school he met Gay Whitfield in a history class, and they were married at A. Frank Smith United Methodist Church in Alto on June 1, 1967.
Their oldest child, Kathy, was born in 1969 and in 1970 they moved close to the lake where he could pursue his hobby and lifelong love of fishing. He coached in Burkeville and then Brookeland, where he remained for 11 years and during which time their son, William Guy, was born. While at Brookeland, his wins averaged 27 per season, with 297 all together, including 10 district championships, 5 regional finalist teams, and 1 state finalist team.
In 1986, he went to Zavalla and while there he received a Milestone Coaching Award from the Basketball Coaches Association at their State Meeting for 712 Overall Wins. He later retired from Newton in 2001 after 37 years of overall teaching. He leaves a wonderful legacy of teaching and lessons, stories and sayings, humor and caring to everyone he met, especially to his children and grandchildren. His grandchildren adored him and his life lessons on the ball field, on fishing and hunting trips, and his stories of Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit will always be with them. He and his wife had many wonderful years together and were blessed with wonderful children, their spouses, and grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Lottie Maurine and Robert Cecil Gaston. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Gay, his daughter and her husband Kathy and Giuseppe, and his son and his wife, William Guy and Cory, and 5 beautiful grandchildren Bryce, Luigi, Logan, Lucca, and Paige. He is also survived by two brothers, Robert “Bob” Gaston and Floyd “Dickie” Gaston. Visitation will be Wednesday, February 12th from 6-8 at Shultz Funeral Home at 1900 S. Wheeler St. in Jasper, and the funeral service will be Thursday, February 13th at 10:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Jasper with graveside services following at 2:00 p.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Nacogdoches County. Memorial contributions can be made to First UMC at 329 N. Bowie.