Gary Lee McDaniel “Coach Mac” left this earth on Monday, June 26, 2023, at Cox South Hospital at the age of 81. Gary was born on September 14, 1941, the first-born son of Leslie L. McDaniel and Phyllis M. (Shamel) McDaniel in Lebanon, Missouri. As a young boy he lived in Elkland and Mack’s Creek and enjoyed playing with his cousins. When in the 4th grade he moved with his family to Rogersville where he was saved and baptized at an early age, milked cows, picked out his own peach tree limb on occasion when required by father Leslie. He worked hard in Junior High plowing and sowing a Soy Bean field and as a teen you could always find him working in the hay with his own hay hauling crew, building a fence line or working with the farm animals, if not at a sports practice. Gary loved FFA in school and was an outstanding athlete in basketball, track, and softball, graduating from Logan Rogersville High School in 1959. On August 18, 1963, he married his biggest fan and the love of his life, Patricia Diane McDaniel. Gary continued his education and basketball careers at Southwest Missouri State University, graduating in 1963. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Ozark.
Gary had a strong work ethic and his work as a father, educator and coach was his most rewarding work. He taught history and geography for many years and coached basketball for almost 30 years. His career began as an assistant basketball coach at Lebanon High School. He then moved on to be the head coach at Willard High School, followed by a stint as assistant basketball coach at Drury College, and finished his career at Logan Rogersville High School for 20 years including positions of Athletic Director and Transportation Director. Gary played fast pitch softball in Springfield for years playing nearly 100 games a summer. He worked in construction with Ralph Manley for a short time, had a sign painting business on the side for many years, and assisted Don Wuertley working on cars and tractors for a time. Gary retired in 1997 but never truly stopped coaching. He continued coaching and mentoring youth one on one, hosted summer fundamentals camps, and assisted with the Upward Basketball programs at Ozark First Baptist and James River churches until he was physically unable to continue in his later years.
Gary’s commitment and discipline to work hard at whatever he did rewarded him with many accolades. Coach Mac’s teams won 414 games, made four consecutive trips to the Class 3A State Tournament, including a State Championship in 1982, 3rd Place finish in 1983, Runner Up in 1986 and Quarterfinals twice. He was the 1980s News-Leader Coach of the Decade. In 1985 he was named Athletic Director of the Year and 3A Boys Coach of the Year. He also served on the original Board of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and was inducted into the Springfield Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in 1986. He was enshrined as a member of the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame on October 25, 2009. In 2021, Coach Mac received the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Gary Filbert Lifetime Achievement Award. The Logan Rogersville Boys Basketball Team (82-86) was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.
But it wasn’t the honors that brought him his greatest joys, but rather seeing the young men and women whose lives he had helped shape become loving husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, teachers, coaches, businessmen and women, leaders in their churches and communities. It was memories of them that he spoke of the most in his last years along with remembrance of and appreciation for the great men who had poured into his life. Coach Mac leaves a living legacy in the thousands of lives he coached and touched who now carry on that torch.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, brother Bob, and his infant daughter, Nancy Ann. He is survived by his wife, Patricia “Patty”, sons Keith McDaniel (Lauren Bills) of Rogersville, MO, Kevin McDaniel (Kevyn Morrow) of New York City, daughter Dana Murfin (Chuck) of Ozark, his beloved grandchildren Chase McDaniel and Trey McDaniel (Shelby Roberson) of Rogersville, Nathan Murfin (Lauren) of Ozark, Nick Murfin (Celine) of Rockwall, TX, and Marissa Murfin of Ozark, his great-grandson, Daniel Murfin (who will miss his Papa “Donald Duck”) and unborn great granddaughter Selah June Murfin of Ozark; his brothers Jim McDaniel (Judy) of Nixa, MO, and Dan McDaniel (Phyllis) of Cottonwood, AZ, and many loved nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends. The family would like to thank all who cared for Gary in his last days at Cox South and Birch Pointe Health and Rehabilitation.
Services will be held on Saturday, July 1st at First Baptist Church of Ozark, 1400 W. Jackson under the direction of Adams Funeral home. The family will receive visitors beginning at 10 a.m. and the Funeral Service will begin at 11 a.m. Burial will be at Rivermonte Cemetery in Springfield, MO. Memorial contributions are the donor’s choice.