As baseball season begins at Kilgore High School next week, there will be one less supporter in the dugout – and hearts will be missing their friend.
Dr. Gary Sweek, affectionately known as “Doc since his arrival in Kilgore back in 2004, passed away Wednesday morning prior to school. Sweek, who was a CTE Health Science instructor at KHS and a Vietnam veteran, was a fixture at Kilgore sports events, particularly baseball and football.
Sweek was so beloved by the staff and students that the school district as a whole wore purple on Friday's school day in memorial.
There will be a memorial service on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at a fitting place – Driller Park, on Commerce Street – for Sweek. And Sweek's family has established a fund – the Doc Sweek Memorial Scholarship Fund – that they would appreciate donations to, in lieu of flowers.
Sweek adopted Kilgore's Bulldogs as his own when he came to town, and rarely missed a KHS football game or baseball game.
He's in the dugout in many of the News Herald's photos of the team over the years, and transformed his trademark white goatee into a full-on “playoff beard for last year's Kilgore season, that set a new record for single-season wins.
The school announced Sweek's passing to the students and faculty Wednesday morning, and then on Facebook shortly thereafter.
“The Bulldog family is saddened this morning with the loss of Doc Sweek, athletic director and head football coach Mike Wood said, in the Facebook post. “He touched so many lives in a positive way, both in athletics and in the classroom. Doc was one of a kind and we will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the many students he touched.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities and his Bulldogs' fandom, Sweek, a retired emergency room doctor, spent much time reading (he worked at Books-A-Million during his summers) and was a member of Mensa International.