Today we mourn the loss of the former Northeast Guilford Rams’ Athletic Director and head girls basketball coach, John Primm/John Primm Gym at NEG was named in his honor(Funeral Arrangements Now Set)

Very sad news coming in today, as we get the word that last night, John Primm died in his sleep…John Primm, the former Athletic Director and head girls basketball coach, Northeast Guilford High School…John Primm, the man who could always be seen reading a book, when he was out eating at a restaurant, and these were not comic books, John Primm would be reading detailed books on American, or World History…Pretty sure he was an honors history teacher, while coaching and leading the athletic department, at Northeast Guilford HS…

The loss of John Primm, is a huge loss, since he was such a huge part of the athletics history, that was made within the Northeast Guilford Rams athletics programs…John coached girls basketball team at Northeast Guilford, and he coached teams to 3-A Conference and district championships…John had these two sisters, and I think they were Beth and Amy Ward, and those two girls were as good as any to ever come out of Guilford County, and with that talent he had on board, John Primm took full advantage of the situation and became the Guilford County Coach of the Year on more than one occasion…

John Primm did things the right way, as the NEG AD…He knew the rules and standards and he went right by the book, and he was what you would call, a true professional, and you knew where you stood, and what
was to be expected from you, any time you set foot on the Northeast Guilford High School campus, when John Primm was in charge of that athletics program…

John Primm was a man of Christian faith, and he didn’t mind sharing his faith with others, and when we John Primm did things by the book, we mean he ran the show at NEG by the rulebook, and by the good book…That good book, would be the bible, the strength and foundation of John Primm’s faith….

I really respected this man, and still respect his memory today, because like we are trying to impart, and trying to tell you, you knew what was expected of you, when you were around John Primm, and by being around John Primm, you wanted to do your best, and do things the right way, and correctly, no matter what you were doing…

We got the news of John Primm’s passing today, on a phone call from Rusty Lee, the former Page AD, and the former QB for the NEG Rams…Sad news, it was almost like a true gut-punch when we heard this sad news…Another one of the real good ones gone…

John Primm had Tommy Pursley as the football coach on his athletics staff, and if you look at what Coach Pursley did, while at NEG coaching for AD John Primm, and for the NEG Rams football faithful, it is almost a reflection of who John Primm was, and what he stood for…Two NCHSAA 3-A State Championship appearances, a boat-load of Conference Titles, and playoff appearances for something like 20 straight years…Boys Basketball, under Curtis Hunter’s leadership back then, made East Regional Championship games, baseball was always at the top, or near the top of the Mid-State 3-A standings, and the student-athletes, and all of the NEG student body knew to walk tall, and don’t let yourself be caught getting out-of-line, while you were on the “John Primm Watch”….Everyone knew to operate at a higher standard, while John Primm was in charge…He was just that type of person….He believed in the “Northeast Guilford Rams Way”, and he expected the Ram students. to adhere to those policies….

And as you will read below, you will see that John Primm helped NEG students like David Jackson get on the road to their life’s calling…John Primm gave David Jackson the chance to be the PA(public address) man/announcer for Northeast Guilford HS basketball games, and that led to David Jackson becoming the “Voice of Appalachian State Mountaineers” basketball, football, and baseball games, and David made/had the historic call, when APP State knocked of the University of Michigan, in one of the biggest upsets in college football history…John Primm gave David Jackson that chance to get his feet wet, announcing at Northeast Guilford High School, and then David Jackson goes on to become the “Sportscaster of the Year”, in the state of North Carolina…

We could go on with more on John Primm, but I do want you to read some of the articles, we found from the archives on John Primm, and the first high school football game I announced, going solo, was way back in August of 1998, and it was Page at Northeast Guilford, and John Primm was right there then, as the NEG AD, and he lead us into that new era….I also announced on radio, the first-ever game played in the new Northeast Guilford HS gym, back there around 2006, and that very night, I dubbed that building, “The John Primm Gym”….That night, we had Page at Northeast Guilford, once again…Lots of NEG history going on, and going down with John Primm at the helm….

It must be said many times today, what a terrible loss it is, with John Primm now passed on…In recent years, after leaving Northeast Guilford HS, he had been the AD and was doing some limited teaching, at the Burlington Christian Academy, working there for the Burlington Christian School Royals…Never saw many lazy days at all, from John Primm…

Gone, but how can you forget a man who did all he did, and he lived and projected so much good, and there was so much good, in everything he stood for…

All we can say today is, RIP:John Primm……….

We can only thank John Primm for all he did for the Northeast Guilford High School community, and we just saw Brian Ovolio, the AD at NEG Middle School yesterday, and all that does, it bring back more fond memories of John Primm, and NEG people…John Primm, Bill Bookout, Rusty Lee, Chris Suggs, Brad White, Curtis Hunter, Cheri Sharp, Tommy Pursley, David Blue, Bob Boles, Pappy Chapell, David Lawing, and many more, from over the years…

Below you will see some articles from and other sources on John Primm, and his stay, at Northeast Guilford High School…. January 25, 2010:
Page at Northeast Guilford and they will dedicate and name the new Northeast Guilford gymnasium in John Primm’s honor tonight…..John Primm 30-year plus teacher, coach, and Athletic Director at NEG and he is very well deserved of this honor….

I was calling the place the John Primm Gym the day it opened back in say 2006 and it is a good thing that they are formally getting around to taking care of the business of naming the gym after Mr. Primm……

He has been a huge part of the Northeast Guilford community over the years and John attended and graduated from Page High School, but ended up becoming a teacher and coach at Northeast. John had some very successful girls basketball teams back in the mid to late 1980’s with the Ward sisters and now he will get a chance to see his name up in lights and get some of the recognition that should be coming his way….

John Primm taught honors history at NEG for many years and I still remember seeing John at the old Palmer Plaza Restaurant on a number of occasions back in the 80’s and 90’s and he would always have a book with him and he would be reading and studying while he was waiting on his food…He was usually reading from some fine authors and it was a serious read, no Cat in the Hat or the History of John Boy and Billy go to the Circus.

John would be reading from the history of the Civil War War or the Plight of the Russian Immigrants in Leningrad under Joseph Stalin or the Last Days of Trotsky in Siberia…..

John Primm Gym dedication tonight at Northeast Guilford HS, out off of Highway 29 on Hicone Road and former NEG student and now Appalachian State Univeristy assistanat Athletic Director David Jackson will be there and he sends his regards:

**********I am not sure you are aware but NE Guilford is holding a special ceremony to honor John Primm Monday night prior to their boys game against Page. They will officially be naming the gym after him. A good number of us former students will be back and I am going to get a chance to speak as a part of the ceremony. He was a tremendous influence on so many of us– it’s sad to see him move on. I’m not sure if you are calling the game or not, but if you are, I hope to see you.*********

We are not calling this one, but I do plan on being there and that is a bit ironic while discussing this subject. I did call on radio, the first-ever game in that Northeast Guilford gym and that is the night I dubbed it the John Primm Gym….Also masked within all this irony, is the fact that Northeast was playing Page that night in what I believe was December of 2006 and you can’t get away from the fact that John Primm was a Page-man/student, that became a Northeast Guilford Ram………

from the Burlington Times-News and from Jessica Williams, on October 27, 2016:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Times-News this school year is honoring an “Amazing Teacher” in our community each month. The Times-News will accept nominations from readers. Send nominations in writing to Times-News interactive director Michael Russo by email at, or promotions director Michele Terry at Written nominations also may be dropped by our office to the attention of Russo or Terry.

Every wall of John Primm’s classroom is covered in history.

Life-size cutouts of Elvis and John Wayne frame vintage advertisements for war bonds and stamps, and a black-and-white portrait of Winston Churchill smoking a cigar with a gun in one hand.

Other photos are more personal. To the left of the whiteboard, there’s a sepia photo of Gerald Primm, John’s father and a World War II fighter pilot: a role model for Primm and for his students.

“My dad was a hero and was a pastor, and tried to teach me the values that I hope I try to instill in kids. I had really good parents,” he said.

Primm was raised in Raleigh until he was 10, then moved to Greensboro, where he attended Page High School before going to Mars Hill University. A call to education brought him to Northeast Guilford Junior High School in 1972 and Northeast High School in 1981, where he remained until 2008.

“I was shy, but I always had a love for history and always had a desire to kind of convey that. So that’s probably the reason [I wanted to teach]. It was that conviction I needed to get into that,” he said.

Coaching high school sports helped him overcome his initial shyness. In 1989, Primm became the athletic director at Northeast Guilford, where he left a mark on staff and students. He was honored and humbled when the school named their new gymnasium after him in 2010.

After nearly 37 years in education, he believed his career was over — until he was invited to attend a friend’s son’s graduation at Burlington Christian Academy.

“I went to his eighth-grade graduation, and man, I was impressed with the kids. Some of them spoke, and I thought, ‘Man this is pretty impressive,’” he said.

He started as a history teacher at BCA in 2008, one of the first years the school had a high school. Since then, he’s helped found the Advanced Placement Program and History Club, and has taken students on trips to Europe almost every year. The travel posters and photos covering every inch of each wall of his classroom are visual evidence of how he’s spent the past nine years.

“This started off as just a few posters, and I’ve gone crazy with it. … And I use these really as teaching tools, all the time, more than I thought I would. I’m all the time referring to this person over here. That puts a new light on” history, he said.

If the students get distracted and start letting their eyes wander, he says, at least they’ll learn something.

DISTRACTION IS ONE of the challenges he faces in his career at BCA that wasn’t as big an issue at Northeast Guilford.

“Kids are different nowadays. There’s still a lot of good kids, but the most difficult thing is having to deal with their technology habits. … I think technology has dulled people somewhat, and I’m not saying kids are dull, but I think it has dulled people, and you’ve really got to be somewhat of an entertainer to keep it alive,” he said.

Smart phones and xBox games have lessened teachers’ influence on students. Primm says he’s found himself giving less and less homework because students don’t focus on it like they should. That’s due, in part, to having other assignments, but he knows many kids are anxious to finish their work so they can play videogames.

“I can tell the guys who play [videogames] because they’re really just in a comatose state sometimes because they play it an inordinate amount of time,” he said.

But even with its challenges, Primm says, teaching is really rewarding, especially when you see the students grow and change.

“Just seeing kids improve and seeing them think more, and at least have an appreciation for history, I think that’s the biggest reward — and to stay in touch. I have a lot of kids stay in touch,” he said.

FOR PRIMM, THE the relationship between teachers and students is increasingly important. Walking through the hallways of BCA, he asks students how they’re doing and brings up little inside jokes. The tight-knit, community atmosphere of BCA allows teachers to get to know each student, which he’s grateful for.

For teachers beginning their first year at a public school, Primm says to be real, don’t preach, and be merciful with students.

He adds, “Be your own person, which is tough to do sometimes, especially in a public school, because you’re kind of teaching to what I call a cookie-cutter mentality. … Have a passion for your subject, [and] be knowledgeable about your subject.”

The best way to do that, Primm says, is to read. He reads upwards of 50 books per year, which he jokes about with students. He’s told them to yell “Don’t do it!” if they see him with a book in his hand at Barnes and Nobel, and students have actually done it.

As far as his future goes, Primm says he plans to teach for as long as he can. Having been blessed with good health and good students, there’s no real ending in sight.

“I had a second career I didn’t think I was going to have, and I don’t know when I’m going to end it. I’ve still got the energy,” he said.

from Jennifer Atkins Brown, staff writer with the News and Record(Greensboro) on September 13, 2003:
John Primm, on retiring as a teacher at Northeast Guilford HS, becoming the AD at NEG, and then teaching again, at Northeast Guilford HS


When John Primm, 53, retired from teaching history at the end of the past school year, he never expected to find himself back in the classroom so soon.

With the Guilford County Schools for 31 years, Primm retired after doing double duty as a teacher and the school’s athletic director.”It was difficult to put all my efforts into two things,” Primm said. “The AD job is a full-time job.”

Primm decided to stay at Northeast and serve part-time as the athletic director. But then one of the history teachers (incidentally, one of Primm’s former students) needed to take maternity leave. Primm agreed to teach her Advanced Placement European history classes for the first nine weeks of school.

“I was going through some withdrawals, so this has been nice,” Primm said.

He will fill in again, if needed.

“Teaching is my passion,” he said. “I love sharing knowledge.”

What led you to teaching?

“I thought it was a calling. I felt the Lord led me to be a teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach. I think teaching is an alive subject, and I love sports. I had the best of both worlds. I love teaching history. History can come alive if you make it. I want people coming out of my classes saying they love history or that the class had an impact on them. I want them to apply facts and be analytical.”

What do your duties as the athletic director involve?

“Practically every night I have an athletic event. I supervise the athletic events – make sure officials are there, gate people are there, coordinate the concession stand and make sure the game goes smoothly. I do schedules. I try to be a peacemaker between coaches, parents and players, and also more and more I’m a businessman.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“I enjoy sports, and I enjoy people. I think high school sports are the last vestige of sport left. High school athletes aren’t recruited. I also enjoy meeting folks from other schools. Plus, I love Northeast. There are such wonderful people here – down-to-earth, very supportive.”

What is most challenging?

“Balancing all the things in the job description and being a good listener and making fair decisions.”

What do you think you will miss most about teaching?

“Being around real good kids. I’ve been blessed with really sharp kids who’ve challenged me. I will miss the interaction with them in the classroom, but I’ll still be in touch with them through athletics and FCA.”

What other activities do you enjoy?

“Well, being the AD takes up a lot of nights and weekends. I am a member of Eller Memorial Church and teach Sunday school. My church and the people there are important to me. I love to read history books. I’m reading three right now. I try to read the Bible every day. I also like to watch sports. I serve as one of the advisers of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”

What are your favorite athletic teams?

“I’m a Yankee fan and an ACC fan. My favorite teams, though, are the Northeast teams.”

What are your future plans?

“I take it one year at a time now. One day I may be called to work with troubled teens. Right now I feel like this is my mission field.”

++++++++++JOHN PRIMM OBITUARY from Greensboro News and Record/CLICK HERE
Primm, John S.+++++++++++

John S. Primm, 72, passed away peacefully in his sleep, Tuesday, February 14, 2023.

John is survived by his brother, Mark Primm and wife, Sandy, of Whitsett; nieces, Carly Primm Steele (Steven), and Corrie Primm; nephews, Caleb Primm and Connor Primm; an aunt, Jean Purcell and husband, Jim, of Columbia, Maryland and their children, Deidra Reilly (Fred), and Carole Purcell.

He also leaves a multitude of friends, students (and their parents), whom he taught over a 50-year teaching career, fellow teachers, school administrators, athletes, coaches, pastors, and dear friends that worshipped together as a church family.

He was predeceased by his heroes, parents, Gerald Caudle Primm and Ethel Brown Primm.

John graduated from Page High School and Mars Hill College, and ended up becoming a history teacher, coach, and athletic director at Northeast Guilford High School (NEGHS). He excelled at every endeavor he attempted, whether it was coaching very successful girls’ basketball teams, back in the mid to late 1980’s (3-A Conference and district championships, and Guilford County Coach of the Year honors), directing a stellar athletic program at NEGHS, or teaching Advanced Placement history courses, where his students consistently outperformed expectations and surpassed goals.

John’s passion was people – encouraging them to perform at their fullest potential, dispensing encouragement whenever and wherever needed, giving sacrificially of his time and if needed, giving the “shirt off of his back” to a student in need. Most of all, as described by writer, Andy Durham – “John Primm was a man of Christian faith, and he didn’t mind sharing his faith with others, and when we say John Primm did things by the book, we mean he ran the show at Northeast by the rulebook, and by the good book … that good book, would be the Bible, the strength and foundation of John Primm’s faith…”.

He left a strong legacy in the Northeast Guilford community, where he lived and worked most of his adult life. His contributions were honored by the school in the naming of the new high school gym as the John Primm Gymnasium, in 2010.

Following his retirement from NEGHS, John felt called to teach Advanced Placement History courses at Burlington Christian Academy (BCA) in Burlington, NC. After nearly 37 years in education, he joined BCA in 2008, where he taught for 15 years – his last day of class was on Monday, February 13, 2023. He helped found the Advanced Placement Program and History Club and took students on trips to Europe, almost every year. He loved BCA, their purpose, his students, staff & faculty, and parents. And BCA loved him equally.

John Primm was a terrific educator, coach, and athletic director, but to the ones who loved him and knew him the most, he was a loving friend, teacher, mentor, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and faithful follower of Christ.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 19, 2023, at the Burlington Christian Academy gymnasium, located at 621 E. Sixth Street, Burlington, NC. The family will receive friends after the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Eller Memorial Baptist Church, 1124 Walnut St., Greensboro, NC 27405; Harvest Baptist Church, 3741 S Church St, Burlington, NC 27215; Burlington Christian Academy, 621 6th Street, Burlington, NC 27215-0272.

Forbis and Dick, North Elm Street Funeral Home is serving the Primm Family.

Online condolences at

17 thoughts on “Today we mourn the loss of the former Northeast Guilford Rams’ Athletic Director and head girls basketball coach, John Primm/John Primm Gym at NEG was named in his honor(Funeral Arrangements Now Set)

  1. Andy,

    This is John’s brother, Mark Primm. I was texted your posting of your terrific tribute to my brother. I’m grieving along with my family at our unexpected huge loss. But as you eloquently mentioned he touched lives too numerous to count or know. I don’t know how these things work, but is it possible to use any of your tribute in the obit that I have to write. I will certainly give you credit. I’m at a bit of a loss to express things. You nailed it. Thanks!!

  2. Mark, use as much as you would like to use in the Obit…Others have done so, with previous situations like this one…Feel free to do what you need to do, at a time like this…

    From what we understand, John Primm did not show up to teach his classes at Burlington Christian Academy today, and they went to his home, to check on him there, and found him dead…

    Sad, sad news…RIP:John Primm, and all things happen for a reason, and the reason will be revealed in time…

  3. I’ve known John since he was 10 years old through Eller Memorial Baptist Church. One thing not mentioned is that he was himself a very good athlete and highly competitive. I am proud to call him my friend for 60 plus years

  4. A great man who made a huge impact on me and so many others at Northeast. He will be missed. Prayers for the family.

  5. I had the pleasure of working with John in the 80’s at NEG. I took over both his APUS history and girls basketball programs in the mid 80’s. I could not have asked for a better mentor and role model. Teaching was a calling and a passion for John and he made such a difference in many lives along the way. I can never thank him enough. I left NE in 1990 and John would always call once or twice a year to check up on me to see how I was doing. Unselfish to the core the world was a better place because of John Primm.

  6. The Northeast Guilford Community lost a good man who gave so much to sports in our community. He was a straight shooter and you knew where you stood with him. He touched the lives of so many students, players and coaches. John, thank you for all you did.. You will be missed by many….

  7. I had the pleasure of working with John in the 90’s at Northeast Guilford High School. He was a wonderful mentor and friend to all. John touched the lives of many colleagues, students and athletes. When he moved on to BCA our paths crossed on occasion, and he always inquired about my children. I am so blessed to have called you my friend. John, you will be missed……..

  8. We learned from John Primm’s family that John was 72 years old, and he would have been 73 in April…

    Teaching and helping kids learn was his passion, and he did it for a lifetime.

  9. It turned out to be a good day for the Northeast Junior and later on Senior high schools when I hired John Primm to teach social studies at NEJHS. John blended well with an outstanding faculty. As a teacher he established high standards for his students and was able to motivate them to meet those standards. Better yet John was a super person. John was respected by all who knew him and his very positive impact on the greater Northeast community will be felt for many years to come.

  10. John was the reason my son Kyle loves history. He was a mentor, great teacher and person. We loved seeing and talking to him at one of his favorite dinner places “Country Kitchen”. He will be missed, all our thoughts and prayers for his family and all the students present and past.

  11. As a parent at Burlington Christian Academy, I have known Mr. Primm for many years. My daughter speaks of him in terms of extended family. Like all of you, we are devastated at this tremendous loss. I saw him February 8th as I led Chapel for the high school. I used Mr. Primm’s history class in the presentation to the students. He was present, and we chatted afterward. I gave him a hug not knowing it would be my last time to do that. I am grateful for his presence in the lives of my children and his contributions to BCA and to education. He left this world a better place than he found it, and for this, I am grateful. He mentioned possibly graduating (retiring) with the Class of 2023. He did. He just turned his tassel early. I pray that every student he taught will endeavor to make him proud.

  12. I met John when he and his parents came to Eller Memorial Baptist
    Church when I was 9. Basically we grew up
    together in that church…family vacations at Ridgecrest, youth fellowship, playing softball behind our church in the summer, climbing into the church steeple (?), cookouts at the Kincaid’s on Cherry Lane, ate many a McDonald’s burger/fries together on Summit Ave when the cost was under 50 cents!, watching the boys play little league baseball in the summer, enjoying cherry smashes at the drugstore on 4th Street…and so much more. We were in Page Choir together and went to our HS graduation together in 1968. Went our separate ways in college but remained friends with Eller and our heavenly father being our common bonds. Fast forward into the last decade where our old youth fellowship friends have reunited every year…usually a hot dog lunch on
    Saturdays. We have kept our connections alive for which I’m grateful. About 12 of us and John have been a part of that! These friendships and John’s and mine are solid gold! i will SO MISS our occasional conversations and the love John always showed to my deceased parents as well. John, i’ll truly miss you and am
    broken hearted ??. Thx for the memories. You were dearly loved.

  13. I knew John from NE when my daughter attended but knew him more as a neighbor and friend. Before his shoulder surgery he routinely walked in the neighborhood daily. I often got the opportunity to walk with him either with other neighbors or just the two of us. We talked about many things including his love for teaching, his students, his past and current coworkers, and family. We talked about God and the difference having faith made in our lives. A true Christian man who lived the life he should. Always kind and looking for the best in people. I learned so much from him. He talked to me about finding my mission field and sticking with it. I often think about the many words of wisdom he gave me for many situations. He will be so missed! John, it was a true honor to know you and learn from you. Rest in peace my friend. Heaven gained a true Godly man!

  14. I was in his history class when he first started teaching and i was “in love” with him….lol and his dark hair. I also loved history. i saw him often at the Country Kitchen and he always ask me if I was still crushing on him.

  15. Thanks for the forum to post our thoughts of a wonderful friend and mentor. Like everyone else I have lots of great John Primm stories. Having the last name “Adams” I was the first kid he called on during roll call his first year of teaching an 8th grader at NEJH. He and Ms. Mottsinger soon identified me as someone they could play a practical joke on and seem mad at each other, only to have the class write a paper on what we observed. As time passed and life moved by quickly, John could often be seen reading a paper or book, never to busy to ask about family and always remembering my parent’s names. He had a great dad who he passionately tended to in his later life, never complaining but splitting his time between helping and challenging the next generation with history and his intentional Christian testimony.
    Fast Forward to Feb 24th, 2013, I was blessed to be able to coach the Vandalia Christian School to a 2A state championship on Saturday night. After the excitement of that evening I headed to my church on Sunday morning. As I walked into the foyer, there was John Primm sitting in a chair to congratulate me before he headed to his church. At that moment I realized that his investment did not stop with me in 1977 when I graduated. John Primm was still mentoring and showing me what it meant to invest in others’ lives forever. So, in that shadow I hope I can continue in that legacy of investments in others’ lives so that when I see John again fellowshipping with our Savior, the Christ Jesus, he will be pleased with the legacy he showed me how to try to live out. Thanks for creating a path and shining a clear light for me and others to follow my dear friend.

    Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

    Tommy Adams

  16. John Primm never had kids but he has had a bigger influence on more kids life’s than any Parent I know! He was a great example and kids looked up to him. He took care of kids and had a genuine interest in their success and happiness. Both of my kids went thru Northeast while he was there and are both better human beings because of their association with Coach Primm. He will be missed terribly!!!

  17. It is wonderful to read this, which shows a glimpse of John and how he was all and more than words can convey. Recently, last year, John helped our grandson, John’s second cousin, when he moved to NC from MA to attend Greensboro College and play golf. John’s sense of humor included an easy, dry wit. We exchanged decades of family love among all of us, with Mark Primm, John’s younger brother, Mark’s wife Sandy, and their children. He leaves us with more than words can express, ever. Yet all of us try, joining the chorus of thanksgiving for John’s presence in our lives. Blessings to all who met, knew, and thereby loved John Primm, and others touched by this article.

Comments are closed.