TAZEWELL, Va. (WVVA) — For decades, Lucian H. “Lou” Peery loomed large in the Tazewell community. On Tuesday, those that knew him best gathered to remember a man who always remembered others.
Several years ago, one Bulldog baseball player proclaimed, “Tazewell baseball is Coach Peery.”
Peery gave all of himself to the diamond for 35 seasons — acquiring more than 400 wins.
“He was the best coach I have ever seen of any sport, at any level,” said longtime friend Larry Blankenship. “But that wasn’t his greatest gift, by any stretch of the imagination. Coach believed everyone had value.”
“I can tell you about hundreds and literally thousands of lives that he changed in that way. And my life was changed by that great man as well,” he continued.
The impression Peery left on the community was apparent in the large number of friends and family that gathered to remember his life. And tell his stories — or as many as could be told.
“For two-plus years we were college roommates,” said friend Arthur Broady. “Day after day after day. That’s why I cannot share a lot of personal stories about Lou.”
Those stories that were shared, however, all ended the exact same way.
“I encourage you to hold fast to the special times, the wise counsel, the wisdom and even the jokes you were blessed to have received from Coach Lou,” Broady added.
“To be honest, I don’t know what greatness is, maybe it’s different for each of us,” Blankenship said. “If we went around the room and gave each person a chance to write it down, it would look different in a lot of ways. But for those of us who this man’s life has touched — many of us would include him in our definition.”
Coach Peery is Tazewell baseball, but to the people of Southwest Virginia, he was much more than that.
“Let me tell you what Tazewell is — Tazewell is and was and always will be Lucian Peery,” said Pastor Carlos Hess. “He believed in this place. Even when other folks would say, ‘there’s nothing there’ … Lou believed in the folks who lived here.”
Lucian Peery was 72 years old.