Wilbur Sylvester Gary
Mr. Wilbur Sylvester “Bulldog” Gary was truly a hometown legend on and off the gridiron as it relates to sports, community leader, educator, civil rights activist, and dedicated church member. He was a lifetime resident of the Parramore-Holden community born and raised in Orlando’s “Black Bottom” at 215 McQuigg Street and was a homeowner in the Bunche Manor Neighborhood.
As a lifetime member of this community, Mr. Gary served as a compassionate, loyal, and dedicated individual to the residents of Parramore-Holden community as well as Orange County. He attended public school in Orange County where he was a popular student at Jones High School (JHS). He wowed the community with his athletic ability as a football player-captain, Student Council President and proud graduate of Jones High School. He attended Florida A&M University after receiving an athletic scholarship for his superior academic ability and athletic prowess. Additionally, he was selected as an “All-American” football player, graduated from FAMU with a BS in Physical Education and after graduation served in the US Airforce. During this time, he remained passionate about and determined to return to his Parramore-Holden community and his beloved Alma Mater, Jones High School.
He accepted his first teaching and assistant coach position at Carver Heights in Leesburg, Florida where he was a positive role model in and out of the classroom. Filled with anticipation to return to Jones High School to help young people to get their education, he accepted a teaching position with the Orange County Public School Board.
Mr. Gary served as classroom teacher of social studies, science, mathematics, and physical education. In 1956, Mr. Gary was appointed Head Football Coach and later Athletic Director at Jones High School and remained the positions for 11 years. He compiled an outstanding coaching record of 71 wins, 30 losses and 5 ties earning the record as Jones High School’s All-time Winningest Football Coach.
Jones High School students affectionately referred to him as their “Daytime Daddy”. He exemplified strong leadership, required excellence at all times among students, faculty & staff, He often helped athletes to attend college as well as gave them lessons on how to become real gentlemen. Whenever he got word of someone contemplating “dropping out”, he immediately became a personal coordinator, incorporating parents, family, neighbors & church members by creating individual plans or “road maps” for success navigating the way to staying in school, graduate and become productive American citizens in the Parramore-Holden Community and beyond.
In 1967, Mr. Gary was appointed Principal of Jones High School. There was a strong push to close Jones High School during 1970’s. Principal Gary’s primary concern was for Jones High School to remain an academic school. With prayers, faith, strong moral conviction, courage, love for the school and desire for JHS to stand in the Paramore-Holden Community, he took on an unpopular and dangerous role to lead the fight against the odds to keep Jones High School open. With God and the community there was a victorious outcome in spring of 1975. It was the decision of the Orange County Public School Board in July 1975 to reassign Principal Gary to Webster Adult Vocational School in Winter Park. During his six-year tenure, Director Gary moved the Webster Adult Vocational School to the next level academically and touched the lives of students and families in the City of Winter Park.
In 1981 Director Gary was appointed to open a new 20-million-dollar complex, the Orlando Vocational Technical Adult Center OVTC. Mr. Gary also had a tremendous positive influence on the student and staff population at OVTC located in the Parramore- Holden Community.
Mr. Gary was a lifelong dedicated member of Mt. Zion Missionary Institutional Baptist Church located in Parramore-Holden Community. In 1955 he made the financial commitment, to use his credit to secure the mortgage for the church, in order to build the new church facility, which opened March 18, 1962 and stands today at 535 W. Washington Street. He served on the Board of Trustees for 19 years and was a positive influence on the church’s membership.
Mr. Gary received numerous recognitions and awards. Additionally, he was a member of several community boards and organizations to include Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Orlando Expressway Authority, Downtown Development Board, Rotary Board, Salvation Army-Advisory Board, Human Services Commission, NAACP, Masons and AMVET to name a few.
Mr. Gary was united in matrimony to Ms. Alfreda Doll Woodruff in 1956. They remained united for 41 years until his death in 1997. Two children were born to this union, Kathy and Wilbur II and two grandchildren Roddrick II and Krista. All are graduates of Jones High School and are lifetime participants in the Parramore-Holden Community.
Equipped with Faith in God, dedication to educate black youth & families, strategic planning for black economic wealth, and unwavering requirement to achieve excellence, Mr. Wilbur S. “Bulldog” Gary’s legacy created a timeless “Roadmap for Excellence” positively affecting generations students, families, and friends of the Parramore-Holden Community and beyond. The contributions that Wilbur Sylvester “Bulldog” Gary made in the Parramore-Holden Community will never be forgotten. As a recipient of this prestigious honor, Mr. Wilbur Sylvester “Bulldog” Gary’s legacy will always serve to illuminate as a beacon of excellence navigating the way in the Parramore-Holden Community.