Lynchburg native John Majors dies

Most folks in Lynchburg knew him as John but assistant coaches and players called him Johnny. John Terrill Majors died on June 3 at the age of 85. {Photo Provided}

Checkered board flag will be lowered to half mast across the state today as Tennessee fans learn that legendary UT coach and Lynchburg native John Terrill Majors has died at the age of 85.

Born in Lynchburg o n May 21, 1935 to Shirley and Elizabeth Majors, John and his siblings Larry, Shirley Ann, Bill, and Joe grew up in Lynchburg. Moore County’s Majors Boulevard is named for the famous family.

Though most Lynchburg folks and family called him John, as both a player and coach he was better known as Johnny Majors. Majors played at Moore County High School, Huntland High School, and the University of Tennessee as a player. Famed UT coach Robert Neyland once famously stated that Majors was, “greatest single-wing tailback in Tennessee history.”

He began his coaching career as the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, where he stayed for five seasons before moving on to the same position at Pittsburgh. It was with the Panthers that Majors earned the majority of his collegiate coaching success.

Majors coached two different stints at Pittsburgh. From 1973-76, he served as head coach at Pitt. During that time he not only helped running back Tony Dorsett win the Heisman, but also put together a perfect 12-0 season and a national championship run. The Panthers beat Georgia 27-3 in the Sugar Bowl to take home the trophy.

Afterwards, Majors headed back to the Volunteer State to take over at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee in 1977. He remained there until 1992. Following his UT coaching career, he returned to Pitt as head coach from 1993-96 and stayed on as a Special Assistant to the Athletic Director and Chancelor until the summer of 2007.

In a statement released by the family, John’s wife of 61 years, Mary Lynn Majors said, “It’s with a sad heart that we make this announcement. John passed away this morning. He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River.”

John Majors was preceded in death by his parents, Shirley and Elizabeth Majors; and two brothers, Bill Majors and Joe Majors. In addition to his wife, Mary Lynn (Barnwell) Majors, Coach Majors is survived by his two children, John and Mary; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He is additionally survived by his sister, Shirley Ann Husband; brothers Larry and Bobby; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service at St. John’s Cathedral will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for contributions to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra or a charity. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}