Mrs. Margie Blevins taught high school for 40 years, and taught English at North Wilkes from its inception until her retirement in 1983. Prior to teaching at North Wilkes, Mrs. Blevins taught English at Mountain View School. Mrs. Blevins was described in a dedication in the 1983 school yearbook as exemplifying “the true meaning of friendship and self-discipline. As a teacher, she has realized that the power of teaching involves a great deal more than simply imparting knowledge and has strived to be a model for students in establishing moral values.” Upon her retirement, former principal Paul Gregory said “it is unlikely that a person will be found to fill her professional shoes,” and former principal Lewis Mitchell said Mrs. Blevins was “one of the finest teachers I have ever known.”
Fifty seven years ago, North Wilkes High School was formed from several community schools. Edwin Canter was the school’s first principal. Through his leadership, he brought those communities together into the Viking Family that exists today. The traditions and sense of pride that NWHS enjoys was born in those early years.
Mr. Earl T. Eller was a teacher, coach, and long-time athletic director at North Wilkes, who served at the school for 33 years. Mr. Eller taught biology, math, physical education and physical conditioning at North, and coached football and track. Mr. Eller was also the school’s athletic director from 1968 to 2001. During Mr. Eller’s 33-year stint at North Wilkes, the athletics program grew from three teams to 32 teams. Mr. Eller was a six-year chairman of the Western AA Basketball Tournament, and won the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in 1999. In football, Mr. Eller was the District Coach of the Year in 1972 and the Blue Ridge Conference Coach of the Year in 1973. Mr. Eller was also the Blue Ridge Coach of the Year for track and field in 1977 and 1978, when his teams went undefeated. Mr. Eller also won the Mountain Valley Conference Athletic Director of the Year in 1998, and was named NCHSAA Athletic Director of the Year. Mr. Eller was the recipient of the North Wilkes Special Service Award under three different principals, and also served from 2002 to 2008 as a trustee for Wilkes Community College.
Mr. Paul Gregory took over as principal at North Wilkes High School during the 1957-58 school year, after serving as the district principal during the school’s inaugural year. Mr. Gregory served as the school’s principal until his retirement in 1977.
Mr. Joe Linney taught and served as coach at both Mountain View High School from 1950 to 1957 and at North Wilkes High School from 1957 to 1967. Mr. Linney led the Mountain View girls’ basketball team to a record of 142-18, and at the helm of the Vikings’ girls’ team led the squad on an incredible winning streak of 108 straight games, though girls’ basketball did not have a state championship at the time. As the boys’ coach, Mr. Linney led his teams to a combined record of 240-46. His 1961 team won the state championship, and his teams also finished second twice in the state and third once. His teams once compiled a 49-game winning streak, and the Vikings were undefeated on the home court in Hays for a span of seven-and-a-half years. Mr. Linney also coached basketball, tennis and golf at Wilkes Community College from 1967 until his retirement in 1988. Mr. Linney was a member of Wilkesboro Baptist Church, and the older gym here on campus is named in his honor.
Lewis Glenn Mitchell
Mr. Lewis Glenn Mitchell was the principal at North Wilkes High School from 1976 to 1987. During Mr. Mitchell’s 11-year tenure, in which he also served for six years as the girls’ assistant volleyball coach, the athletic programs at North Wilkes expanded to include girls’ sports, and the wrestling program was added for boys. Also, Mr. Mitchell helped organize the school’s “Students against Drunk Driving” and “Youth against Dystrophy” Clubs. Mr. Mitchell emphasized the importance of school attendance as principal, and the school saw an overall improvement of five percent in attendance. Mr. Mitchell served as principal at C.B. Eller and C.C. Wright Elementary Schools, and during his tenure at all three the schools were recognized for winning state beatification awards. Mr. Mitchell has received a statewide recognition for Excellence in Administration, and was appointed to the North Carolina Senior Tarheel Legislature. Mr. Mitchell received the Veteran’s Emblem from the Masonic Lodge, and an award from the service organization Communities in Schools. Mr. Mitchell is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Liberty Grove Baptist Church, and continues to be active in the Gideons, the Mountain View Ruritan Club, and in community volunteer work.
Danny Joe Pendry
Mr. Danny Joe Pendry was a teacher and coach at North Wilkes. For 30 years, Mr. Pendry taught exceptional children classes, and was once named Teacher of the Year. Mr. Pendry also coached boys’ varsity basketball for ten years, girls’ varsity basketball for one year, J.V. football for ten years and varsity tennis for one season. Mr. Pendry started the school’s golf program in 1975, and coached golf for ten years, with his team winning the conference golf tournament in 1980. In boys’ basketball, Mr. Pendry twice won the conference regular season championship, the conference tournament, and the district tournament, and coached a squad that went all the way in the playoffs to the final eight. In girls’ basketball, Mr. Pendry won the Wilkes Christmas Tournament in his only season as coach. Mr. Pendry has also served his community through the Mountain View Ruritan Club, as a member and deacon of Maple Grove Baptist Church, and through summer basketball camps held at East Wilkes and Gardner-Webb.
Mr. Jim Wiles was a coach and teacher at North Wilkes for 12 years. Mr. Wiles is also a graduate of North Wilkes, and was named an All-State selection for basketball in 1958. As a collegiate player, Mr. Wiles was named to the Lenior-Rhyne Hall of Fame in 1996. As basketball coach, Mr. Wiles led the Vikings to three state playoff appearances and to the Regional round in 1991-92. Mr. Wiles also enjoyed a career as one of the most successful college basketball coaches in the histories of North and South Carolina. At Anderson College in South Carolina, Mr. Wiles compiled a 248-65 record, and was recognized twice by the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate. April 28, 1978 was proclaimed Jim Wiles Day by the city of Anderson, and Mr. Wiles was inducted into the Anderson College Hall of Fame in 1999. At Gardner-Webb College, where he is also a member of the Hall of Fame, Mr. Wiles went 221-149 in 12 seasons. In totality, Mr. Wiles won 648 games as a college and high school basketball coach, winning numerous Coach of the Year awards along the way. Mr. Wiles also coached golf on the collegiate and high school levels, and as a player won the 1995 Carolinas Senior Amateur Championship, as the top senior golfer in the states of North and South Carolina.
Mr. Raner Wiles was an early contributor to the athletics’ program at North Wilkes High, and his many contributions led to the school’s current football stadium being named after him, an honor his family said “meant more to him than anything.” The focused effort of Mr. Wiles, who graduated from Mountain View School prior to the formation of North Wilkes, was instrumental in helping to start the Vikings’ football program in 1968. Mr. Wiles served as the school’s Athletic Booster Club President for many years, and was an early organizer of the annual Athletic Banquet, where several prominent guests, including governors and members of Congress, spoke. Mr. Wiles was critical over the years for securing funding and support for various projects at North Wilkes. In the community, Mr. Wiles helped charter the Mountain View Fire Department and organize the Mountain View Ruritan Club. Mr. Wiles also helped establish the Mountain View Medical Center. Mr. Wiles was also an active member of Mountain View Baptist Church.
1961 State Championship Basketball Team
The 1961 men’s basketball team at North Wilkes was the first team in school history to win a state title, in only North’s fifth year of existence. The Vikings compiled a record of 27-2, and won the state title with a 41-36 victory over Southern Alamance at Reynolds High School on March 11th. The title capped a strong run for the team of Coach Joe Linney; the Vikings lost in the state championship game in 1960 after another strong year and a record of 29-3. The roster for the 1961 Vikings featured Benny Adams, James Billings, Julius Blevins, David Brown, James Cheek, Dewey Elledge, Richard Miles, David Miller, Franklin Myers, David Pendry, Rex Shumate, Kelly Taylor, Mike Taylor, Jesse Whitley, and Jimmie Wiles. O.G. Tharpe served as an assistant coach, and the team managers were Benny Hayes and Carl Handy.