Warren Wilson Owls
Sam DeVries

Sam DeVries
Sam DeVries - Class of 2012
On the wind-swept plains of a Nebraska farm, Samuel Henry DeVries was born in 1911. His parents and most of the people around him in the farming community of Hickman were of Dutch descent--hard-working, modest and honorable. He attended Center College in Pella, Iowa and then Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he was an All-American football tackle; he graduated from Wesleyan in 1932 with a degree in education. He did further study at the University of Nebraska in nearby Lincoln

In the depths of the Depression, he applied for the engineer position at the Asheville Farm School, but he lacked the training necessary for such technical work. Still, the school really wanted him, so the Board of National Missions hired him on a year's trial to work as a shop teacher. But Sam was interested in cars and that, coupled with an enthusiastic recommendation of his former professor, got him a job that lasted a lifetime.

During his 42 years with Warren Wilson College, DeVries founded and ran the auto shop, supervised the boiler, electrical, building, and grounds maintenance crews, and taught woodworking, plumbing, mathematics and mechanical drawing. He served as the director of the Work Program for 18 years and was an Elder in the campus church. DeVries earned the title "Coach" because in addition to everything else, he coached the football, baseball and basketball teams, and coached them well. While the teams met with varying success, the boys always "[fought] for our games with that Farm School spirit." Coach was well-loved and respected on and off the field. Because of this respect, he was appointed Director of Athletics, a position he held for many years, and was a long-time member of the Athletic committee.

He was married to his wife, Evelyn, in 1937. She served as postmistress and was active in all aspects of campus life. They both retired from the college in 1976, and in that year, the college renamed the new gym in his honor. Sam DeVries died at the age of 80 in 1991.

Bev Ohler wrote of Sam: "Coach was demanding of his workers, but was also deeply respected by them. They worked hard to please him and took good care of the college property. . . ." "If anyone had a problem in a campus house or classroom, the repeated advice was to 'Call Coach!'. . . ""He was the first person out in a snowstorm plowing the roads or scraping the chapel and classroom building steps to keep us safe. He was a hard worker with a strong Mid-Western ethic, honorable to his core."

For his years of patient coaching in football, basketball, and baseball,

For his dedication to the promotion and support of sports as the first Director of Athletics,

And for his 42 years of service,

We induct Sam DeVries into the Athletic Hall of Fame.