CHAMPAIGN — Fittingly, the day before the high school football regular season ends, there will be a new beginning near Centennial High.
At 10 a.m. Thursday, an honorary street dedication — “Coach Hembrough Way” — will be unveiled at Crescent and William near the high school.
The event comes 15 days after the first anniversary of Hembrough’s death at age 73.
“Many called him ‘larger than life,’ but he did not see himself that way,” Georgine Hembrough, his widow, said. “He taught others to know and to learn about themselves, and to appreciate life. I am so proud that this community is honoring coach Gary Hembrough who thought not of himself, but of others, always, at all times.
“Coach was a generous person who always put others first, making them feel special and proud, and that they were worthy of accomplishments. He loved his job, the community, the university, and I am so pleased that this recognition, this honor of distinction, has been bestowed upon him. This tribute reflects the love and respect so many had for Coach. Gary Hembrough will not be forgotten.”
A former Illini player and football coach at Centennial, Gary Hembrough devoted 41 consecutive years to football, starting with his playing days.