By Dean Poling/The Valdosta Daily Times
Former Valdosta Daily Times sports editor and one-time Valdosta State University sports announcer Greg McIlvain has passed away in Tupelo, Miss.
McIlvain had battled several health issues in recent years. He died during the weekend, according to the Mississippi newspaper where he worked. He was 49 years old.
McIlvain came to Valdosta in late 1989, hired as The Valdosta Daily Times’ sports editor. During his time with the newspaper, McIlvain worked as the sports editor and a sports writer on more than one occasion. He was also the city editor for a period of time. He was fundamental in developing The Times’ early presence on the Internet, before leaving The Times and Valdosta in 2004.
“I am so sad that we’ve lost Greg,” said Times sports reporter Christian Malone. “He was a very good journalist and a super person. At the same time, I feel very lucky to have known Greg. The three years that I worked with Greg, when he was the sports editor here at The Valdosta Daily Times, were three of the most enjoyable years of my career as a journalist. I learned a whole lot from him, he treated me great, I believe we gave the people of Valdosta a pretty good sports section and we had a great time.”
McIlvain steeped himself in the lore of Valdosta and Lowndes High School football teams and the Winnersville tradition. He was also dedicated to covering a variety of sports for The Times.
“Greg was a real sports fan,” Herb Reinhard, Valdosta State University athletic director, said, as word of McIlvain’s passing spread Tuesday. “He was just a tremendous writer. I always enjoyed reading Greg’s pieces. He did a good job painting a picture with words.”
During his time in Valdosta, McIlvain developed an early appreciation for, and a special association with, Valdosta State athletics, from the time when the school was still a college and after it became a university.
He announced numerous Valdosta State games, starting with basketball, then adding his voice to calling Blazers baseball and football games, said Steve Roberts, VSU’s former sports information director.
“He had a great voice for public address,” Roberts said Tuesday.
McIlvain worked closely with Roberts on various Valdosta State projects.
“Greg was one of my very best friends,” Roberts said. “He loved Valdosta State and he loved Valdosta State athletics.”
As he did with The Times, McIlvain helped usher VSU athletics into the computer age, helping Roberts establish an Internet presence for the school.
“He was unsung, really, given all he did,” said Roberts, who had stayed in touch since McIlvain had left Valdosta. “I’m really going to miss him.”
For the past few years, McIlvain had been working as a sports copy desk editor for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo. Arrangements remained incomplete Tuesday evening. Services are expected to be held in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn., according to the Daily Journal.
“Greg was the kind of friend that would do anything for you. You can never have enough friends like that,” Malone said. “Even amidst my sadness at Greg’s death, I can’t help but smile, because I have so many wonderful memories of him. My condolences go out to his mother and his family.”