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Eugene Diaz, Jr.

January 25, 1952 - October 23, 2021

Burial Date October 29, 2021

Friends may join the family to honor his life and legacy at Morris Funeral Home located at 160 Railroad Avenue West, Cowen WV, 26206, on Thursday, October 28th, 2021 from 4:00PM to 7:00PM and Friday, October 29th, 2021 from 11:00AM to 12:00PM, at which time a memorial service will be led by family friend, Larry Lovely, followed by final rest and interment at Mills Mountain Cemetery.  Personal condolences and other symbolic gestures for the family may be offered at http://www.morrisfuneralhomecowenwv.com.  In lieu of flowers, donations are asked to be made to Gene’s favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, TN by visiting www.stjude.org.

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EUGENE DIAZ, JR.

Gene, known simply as ACoach@ by his thousands of students, was born on January 25, 1952 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, a son to Sally (Smith) and Eugene Diaz, Sr.  At only eight months of age, he contracted Polio, which left his right leg paralyzed.  Despite such rough beginnings, he attended Golden Glade Grade School, Carol City High School and Miami-Dade Junior College.  During that time, at age 14, he became interested in gymnastics, and his love for the sport lasted a lifetime.

In 1970, Gene was recruited by West Virginia University to compete on the Men’s Gymnastics Team.  In the late 1970’s, he became the Head Men’s Gymnastics Team Coach at WVU.  He also taught children’s gymnastics in the Monongalia County Community Schools program.  When the continuation of men’s gymnastics at WVU became uncertain, he began working to develop his own program which would result in the establishment of Gymorgantown and Gymuniontown.

In 1988, he took his passion to the next level and began working on his vision of a state-of-the-art gymnastics training facility.  In 1989, his dream finally came true in the form of the West Virginia Gymnastics Training Center.  However, on January 5, 1991, a horrific automobile accident left him a quadriplegic.  But just as Polio did not stop him from being a competitive gymnast, quadriplegia would not prevent him from coaching the sport he loved.  To the contrary, Gene continued his work at what was affectionately known as “the gym”, six days per week, until early 2020 when his failing health began to limit his ability to leave home.

Despite his lifelong journey of repetitive obstacles, his love of gymnastics, family, and abiding faith in Jesus Christ never faltered.  While being sadly missed, we rejoice in his new and perfected life on the other side.

Preceded in death by his parents, he is survived by his wife, Shirley; three sons, Stephen, Kevin Sawyer (Lara Jones), and Sean Sawyer (Julie); grandsons, Ryan, Izaiah, and Nicholas Sawyer; stepgrandchildren, Christopher, Chase, and Corinne Snider; and countless friends and former students.

Friends may join the family to honor his life and legacy at Morris Funeral Home located at 160 Railroad Avenue West, Cowen WV, 26206, on Thursday, October 28th, 2021 from 4:00PM to 7:00PM and Friday, October 29th, 2021 from 11:00AM to 12:00PM, at which time a memorial service will be led by family friend, Larry Lovely, followed by final rest and interment at Mills Mountain Cemetery.  Personal condolences and other symbolic gestures for the family may be offered at http://www.morrisfuneralhomecowenwv.com.  In lieu of flowers, donations are asked to be made to Gene’s favorite charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, TN by visiting www.stjude.org.