George “Jeff” Ferguson Carling
On the last night of his life, Coach Jeff Carling went to bed with a big smile on his face. His beloved New York Yankees had just swept their long-time rival, the Boston Red Sox in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. His wife, Phyllis, kissed him good night. Life was good.
On Tuesday morning, August 18, 2020, George Ferguson “Jeff” Carling, died suddenly from an embolism at his summer home in Bean Station, TN. He was 74.
Jeff was born on October 5, 1945 in Queens, NY to Jack and Ruth (Nally) Carling. He attended McKendree University, Murray State University, and Southern Illinois, Carbondale, where he received degrees in speech communication and physical education. He taught and coached basketball for over 38 years in Illinois and Florida. On December 16, 1995, he married the love of his life, Phyllis Ridings Alder.
Jeff had a passion for bringing out the best of young men and women through his legendary motivational speeches and coaching basketball at the high school and junior college levels. He earned wins, accolades, entrance into several basketball halls of fame, and awed audiences with fantastical and fun play. Most of all, he earned the respect and friendship of his players for bringing out their best, commonly more than they thought possible. He was a man with a child's heart and a booming voice that could be heard in even the loudest stadium. He never tired of talking about old friends, past experiences or making new ones. Jeff loved to spin yarns, never hesitating to embellish the truth just a little if it made the story more entertaining or if could induce uncontrollable laughter from his audience. Jeff loved being in the spotlight, good music, steak, and a glass of white wine; the cheaper, the better. He had a mischievous smile and wink that could communicate exactly what needed to be said. He was an avid sports fan and loved nothing more than to tout his favorite teams: the Yankees, NY Giants, Notre Dame Football, and the Duke Blue Devils. He loved life and everyone in it. Everyone who met him could not help but to love him right back.
Jeff leaves behind his loving wife Phyllis Carling, his niece Susannah McCarthy Westervelt, his nephews Brett Palmer and Todd Carling Palmer, and his brother-in-law Timothy Palmer. He is predeceased by his parents and sister Jackie (Carling) Palmer.
A private grave-side service was conducted at Tioga Point Cemetery in Athens, PA with the Reverend Melinda Artman, Church of the Redeemer, Sayre, Pa, officiating.
Jeff's favorite charities were St Jude’s Children's Research Hospital and The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. More than anything, Jeff would want you to honor his memory by being kind and helping every young child to truly believe “If you think you can, you can.”
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