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Honoring Guthridge like 'trying to describe a sunset,' Veazey says

Dr. Dan Veazey served as a UNC basketball manager under Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge. Dr. Dan Veazey served as a UNC basketball manager under Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge.

Dr. Dan Veazey, a Hendersonville native who served as a basketball manager at UNC under coach Dean Smith and longtime assistant Bill Guthridge, was one of four people to eulogize Guthridge during a funeral service on Monday.


Trying to honor someone he admired that much was an almost impossible task, Veazey said in an interview Tuesday.

While he knew and admired Coach Dean Smith, too, Veazey and his family were close to the longtime UNC assistant for 40 years. Veazey visited often when he was in medical school at UNC and stayed in touch long after he came home to Hendersonville to practice family medicine.

"Coach Guthridge has eaten lunch at my house here in Hendersonville," he said. "He and I were very close."

Guthridge's wife, Leesie, called Veazey Monday night and asked if he would make remarks about the coach.

"Honestly, it's one of the greatest honors I've ever had," he said. "It was one of the most frightening things I've ever done, too. You could work on a talk for a year and you're not going to say enough or say the right things about Coach Guthridge. It's kind of like describing a sunset. You've got to experience it. He was a walking example of — what is it, Philippians 2:3?" ("Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.")

Veazey and other close friends walked in with the family at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church. Sitting on the front row, he did not see the dozens of Carolina basketball players behind him. "What was interesting was the church was so crowded that a signficant number of players who had come in had to sit in the choir section," he said. "One of them was Michael Jordan.

"I was focusing so much on Mrs. Guthridge and trying to say the right words I didn't really pay attention to who was there. The nervousness was based on the man I was speaking about not about who was there."

A 1972 graduate of Hendersonville High School and 1976 graduate of UNC, Veazey urged mourners to  “be like Bill – a little more humble, a little more kind, a little more patient,” according to coverage of the service in the Raleigh News & Observer. A Morehead scholar, Veazey graduated from medical school at UNC and came home to practice family medicine.

In 2013, Veazey and Dave Hart of Asheville, a fellow basketball manager and another Morehead scholar, compiled a series of remembrances from Carolina basketball managers that honored Smith and Guthridge. In their tributes, many of the managers shared stories about Guthridge, well known for his dry wit and his compassion for the players.