CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha Valley sports community is in mourning after hearing of the death of a longtime coach, volunteer and former athlete.
Wilbur Jenkins, 48, of South Charleston died suddenly late Saturday, according to friends.
The news spread Sunday via social media with hundreds of messages expressing shock, sadness and grief over Jenkins' death.
Jenkins had been a fixture in the sports community for more than 30 years and had done it all from playing to coaching, and from running stats during tournaments to officiating games.
Jenkins even did some writing for the Daily Mail in the 1980s.
"He was a basketball junkie," said Bill Walton, former South Charleston High School principal and boys' basketball coach. "He loved to be around sports.
"He was just one of those guys who loved to be involved. He stayed in sports all his life or somewhere near it."
The boys were like sons to the basketball coach. He is heartbroken over Jenkins' death. He said they would often come to his home to swim or simply to have dinner with the family. Walton recalled their family as a "wonderful bunch of people."
"Mrs. Jenkins - she rode them hard about being decent people and treating everybody the same," Walton remembered. "She wanted her sons to be respectful around everybody. And they were."
Walton said Jenkins had a great personality and that he didn't know anyone who would dislike him. Jenkins and his fraternal twin brother, Willie, both played for Walton in the early 80s. The twins graduated from South Charleston High School in 1982.
"He was a good player, even though he was a pretty big kid," Walton said. "He was a pretty good kid that could move smoothly. He probably had more athletic skills as a basketball player. You wouldn't expect a big guy to move that quickly or shoot that well."
Steve Joseph, the district chair for the West Virginia AAU boy's basketball program, recalled watching Jenkins play basketball in the 80s but also worked with him during the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and state high school basketball tournaments. Joseph is the head statistician for the state tournaments.
Joseph said his wife woke him at 2 a.m. with the news. She'd seen it on Facebook.
Jenkins would be greatly missed come tournament time. He said Jenkins would do whatever was asked of him.
"You'll never hear anyone say anything bad about him," Joseph said. "It's a big loss. We're going to miss him."
His skills with a ball hadn't diminished over the years. Joseph recalled one instance years ago when a person who made a shot from the half-court line would win a free pizza.
"He shot it from the media table and banked it in," Joseph said. "He said 'I guess that's good for a pizza.' It was."
Walton, who has since retired from education and coaching, recalled attending the boys state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center, where Jenkins could often be found either running information to sports writers, corralling players or coaches into press rooms for interviews or recording game stats.