Remembering a teacher and coach who touched many lives

KSDK – The lives of hundreds of students at two schools changed on Friday afternoon when they found out their favorite teacher and coach had died.

Will Gillespie was a volleyball coach at Francis Howell. He was also a study hall teacher at Eureka High. He was so many things, to so many people.

He was known as a go-getter, a motivator and a guy who could be totally vulnerable with his students.

"I went to see him one last time, and I kept waiting for him, and he's going to take one more breath," his best friend Justin Young said.

It wasn't quite real. The 'so long' wasn't expected to come so soon.

"I touched him on the shoulder and said I loved him, and I'd see him again someday," Young said.

Young and Gillespie were side-by-side for half their lives.

"It was Batman and Robin. We were the dynamic duo for years," he said.

They were freshman soccer players, then volleyball players.

"In his freshman yeah, he was like 'I need to enlist, I need to help,'… just out of left field," Young said.

Justin watched from home while Will served two tours of duty in Afghanistan as a marine.

They were always back together for the important moments.

"[On] my wedding day, I have my wife in my hands, and right behind me is Will," Young said.

They spent the last four years side by side as coaches at Francis Howell High School, until Friday afternoon: the day Will died.

He was on his motorcycle when he collided with a pick-up truck.

"You think he's never going to be gone in a matter of hours from when you last saw him," Young said.

Wille Gillespie wasn't an ordinary guy. His authenticity changed the lives of children he coached and taught.

"He'd stay after practice and tutor them because they had a B, and he thought they should have had an A," he said.

Coach G never said no when anybody asked for help.

Will left behind a legacy of a lifetime in his 28 years.

If Justin had just one more day with his best friend, he knows what he'd say.

"I'd say I love him," he said.

Will's family says his visitation is on Wednesday, and his funeral is scheduled for Thursday at Baue Funeral Chapel in St. Charles. You can find more information here:


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