Coach Carter Lentz dies at age 88
Lentz, a member of the Watauga County Sports Hall of Fame since 2004, was the head boys’ basketball coach at Blowing Rock High School from 1949 until 1965, when the school consolidated with others to create Watauga High School.
He coached at Watauga until 1980. His overall record at the two schools was 552-360, and 201-134 at Watauga.
Current Watauga athletic director Tom Wright played basketball and junior varsity football for Lentz in the early 1970s. He remembered a coach, who not only wanted his players to excel on the field, but also wanted to know his players on a more personal level.
“He was always a real good role model for all of us,” Wright said. “He could get on you, but you didn’t mind, because you knew that he cared. He had a way of getting a one-on-one connection just by sitting down and talking to you, and about things other than sports. He wanted to know how you were as a person.”
Former Watauga boys’ basketball coach, athletic director and current Ashe athletic director Marc Payne remembered battling Lentz-coached teams as a player and later as a coach at Beaver Creek High.
“I came back to coach against coach Lentz for a number of years,” Payne said. “He and I had a very good relationship with a number of things. We enjoyed the competition and talking about basketball.”
Lentz also coached girls’ basketball at Blowing Rock High from 1957-63, compiling a record of 113-41. Lentz also provided color commentary for football and basketball on local radio after he retired from coaching.
Wright said that Lentz was a big influence on his decision to become a coach and a teacher.
“He and coach (Jack) Groce and coach (Bill) Mauldin are the reasons why I do what I do,” Wright said. “They are my role models I look up to and the reasons why I got into athletics.”
Payne remembered Lentz not only as an outstanding basketball coach, but also as a good person who touched many lives in Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties.
“First of all, he was a great person and an outstanding basketball coach,” Payne said. “He coached so many kids who came through Blowing Rock and Watauga. Everybody knew coach Lentz, that’s for sure. He was a great guy, great coach and a great man.
“I always thought when I came to Watauga in 1989, he was one of my biggest supporters.”
Lentz was born on Jan. 2, 1925, in Watauga County. He received the Purple Heart while serving in the European Theater during World War II.
He is survived by one daughter, Jo Ann Lentz Williams and husband John, of Roanoke, Va.; one son, Michael Thomas Lentz and wife, Lisa, of Ronda; two grandsons, Colon Hunter Williams and wife, Stephanie, of Suffolk, Va., and Joshua Thomas Lentz of Wilmington; and three sisters, Recie Craig, Mary Lentz and Nancy Trexler and husband, Earl, all of Blowing Rock; and a number of nieces and nephews.
A military and Masonic graveside service was held Wednesday at Woodlawn Cemetery. The American Legion Post 130 and Snow Lodge 353 AF & AM officiated.
Arrangements were made by Austin Barnes Funeral Home.