Terry "Coach" Gilliland

January 24, 1942May 1, 2021
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Robert “Terry” Gilliland, age 79, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, passed away Saturday, May 1, 2021. A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, May 7, 2021 at 2:00 pm at the Mitchell High School Football Stadium. Casual attire is encouraged. A reception will be held at 16thEmpire at 1605 Avenue A in Scottsbluff, NE immediately following. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Carpenter Center in Scottsbluff or CASA of Scotts Bluff County. Online condolences may be left at Terry was born January 24, 1942, in Garden City, Kansas, to J.R. and Elizabeth Gilliland. Terry graduated from Sidney High School in Sidney, NE, and received a bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from Kearney State College. He married Sonya Vasquez on August 2, 1962. They spent most of their married life in western Nebraska. Terry was a long-time educator serving as a teacher, coach, and athletic director. Terry started his career as a teacher and coach at the West Kearney Boys Training School in Kearney, NE. After receiving his Master’s Degree, Terry taught and coached in the Scottsbluff Public School system. He then went on to coach football and baseball at Peru State College where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He spent the last twenty-seven years of his career in Mitchell, where he was able to coach his two sons and two of his grandsons in football and track. He has been recognized in many ways for his contributions to youth and high school sports. The Nebraska High School Athletic Association honored his long-time service and contributions by awarding him the Athletic Director of the Year. He has coached the Western Nebraska All-star Football Game and served several terms on its board, twice being the committee president. He has been so dedicated to his time coaching that a track award has been created in his name: The Terry Gilliland Outstanding Male and Female Athlete for the Mitchell Track Invitational. Terry considered his greatest accomplishment as a mentor and friend to hundreds of former players and students. Unable to fully retire, Terry served two terms as a Scottsbluff Public Schools Board of Education member. He also served as a volunteer child advocate for CASA of Scotts Bluff County. In addition, he spent countless hours as a volunteer track coach and supporting many activities in Scottsbluff and Mitchell. Survivors include his loving wife and best friend, Sonya Gilliland of Scottsbluff; brother Tom, of Austin, TX; four children: Tanya (Mitch) Carter of Castle Pines, CO, Todd of North Platte, Traci of Scottsbluff, and Troy (Michelle) of Cleveland, OH; nine grandchildren: Lauren (Ben) Hahn of Colorado Springs, CO, Paige (Adam) Frye of Parker Colorado, Reid Carter of Castle Rock, CO, Drew Gilliland of The United States Army, Hannah Gilliland of Lincoln, NE, Drake Gilliland of Scottsbluff, NE, Max Gilliland, Zane Gilliland, and Cecilia Gilliland all of Cleveland, OH; four great-grandchildren Carter, Colton, and Cade Hahn of Colorado Springs, CO, and Denny Frye of Parker, CO; and numerous friends across the state also mourn the loss of Terry.

He was preceded in death by his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Ruby and John Vasquez, and parents, Elizabeth and J.R. Gilliland.


  • Tom Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Todd Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Troy Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Reid Carter, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Drew Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Drake Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Mitch Carter, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Dane Brewer, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Ben Hahn, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Adam Frye, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Max Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Zane Gilliland, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Ralph Paez, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Tom McIntosh, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Jesse Cardona, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Shane Hays, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Paul Asmus, Honorary Pallbearer
  • Roger Asmus, Honorary Pallbearer


  • A Celebration of Life Service

    Friday, May 7, 2021



Terry "Coach" Gilliland

have a memory or condolence to add?

Carolyn Snyder

May 9, 2021

Families bonded by love! We wish we could have been together in person. We were able to view online and what a wonderful celebration of his life. The many testimonials of the lives enriched one way or another by Terry are just a minute few of the many he touched and changed for the better! He will always hold a special place in our heart along with our “extended” family in love! Always treasure the happy memories!

Zachary Bell

May 7, 2021

Coach G as I always called him left a huge impact on my life. I had the privilege to be coached by him in football and enjoyed having him as a modern US history teacher. He was a wonderful mentor and deeply cared for the kids under his charge. He taught me much not just about football but about life and helped to gift me a sense of discipline I have been able to harness to great effect in my life. I truly would not be the man I am today without Coach G. My condolences to his family and may his incredible example as a mentor to young people continue to inspire those he had an impact upon!

Lew Shoff

May 7, 2021

In visiting with Jim Howitt this morning Jim told me of Terry's passing. Connie and I wish to pass our condolences to Terry's wife and family. May he rest in peace. Lew and Connie Shoff

Mick Haney

May 6, 2021

Coach Gillaland was an exceptional competitor.. I was an offensive player, but watched his defenses at Peru State dominate.. Best wishes to his family.. He was a great coach and a great man..
Mick Haney, Class of 82', Peru State College..

Jason Halley

May 5, 2021

Like so many other youth growing up in Mitchell, the lessons taught by Coach Gilliland have made an indelible mark on my life. He was a great man and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sonya and the rest of the Gilliland family.

Chad Surratt

May 4, 2021

Sorry to hear of the passing of my favorite coach. Terry was not only a great coach, but he was a great man and mentor. He taught me a lot about working hard and being the best player and person I could. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Phil Warrick

May 4, 2021

Todd, I am so sorry for your loss in the passing of your dad. He was a special man.

Your dad was so well respected in the state of Nebraska. In our senior year of high school, the one year I had him as a coach, I learned so much from him about the game and about being a competitor. That was nearly 40 years ago, and I still remember specific things he taught me and different ideas he shared. He truly led an impactful life.

I wish I could be at the celebration of life in Mitchell on May 7 to honor his memory. I know that will be a day filled with good stories and good memories about Coach Gill. I hope you and your family will enjoy the great memories people will bring on that day.

Be well my friend.
Phil Warrick

Tim Silvey

May 3, 2021

Coach was a fixture at Mitchell HS. I have so many memories when I was in jr high and was a manager fir the varsity football team. He was kind, caring, and fair. Being friends with his kids makes this even more difficult. What a great man.

Ed O’Bryan

May 3, 2021

My condolences to Sonja and family. Not many men cherished athletics and coaching as Terry did! Football, he loved, but Terry tried to never leave any boy or girl without help to achieve their athletic best in whatever sport they wanted to participate. Many will always remember his dedication for athletics and life. May God Bless you Terry, and RIP COACH!

Kelly McIlravy

May 3, 2021

Dear Family of Terry,
So sorry to hear of His death. Many prayers of comfort being lifted for all of you! May the Lord give you peace.

Kelly Jo McIlravy