Since 2005, Cave worked as a coach and teacher at Cartersville, serving as a behavior specialist, history and government teacher, and an assistant wrestling, football and basketball coach.
“It’s a great loss and we’re very proud of the fact that we had him as part of the school, and the wrestling and football programs,” Cartersville head wrestling coach Garvin Edwards, who worked with Cave in both the football and wrestling programs nine years, said. “He was such a kind, caring, giving coach. He had a very deep relationship with all the kids that he worked with in the classroom, and in the wrestling and football arenas.”
Cave was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer two years ago and could no longer continue to coach. He remained a teacher at the school.
Cave’s greatest passion was for the sport of wrestling, but he coached freshman football and even the freshman basketball team for a year while assisting the varsity teams in all three sports.
According to Edwards, it was Cave’s devotion to his players that set him apart as a coach.
“We would go on overnight trips and he would go from room to room to room. He would go and play cards with the kids, and he would go and make sure they had all the things they needed. He was a caretaker and a giver,” Edwards said. “In the classroom, he would do anything he could to take care of the kids with their grades or even home life situations. There are so many kids that he assisted, who had tough home lives and he would open up his home to those kids, and they would come and stay with him.”
“No matter what decisions were made, he put the kids first. I know he was a coach but he worked with those kids to make them successful in the classroom,” Cartersville Athletic Director Darrell Demastus said of Cave. “I’ve known him since he got here and he was always real personable. He was just a great guy and a good friend.”
Cave’s commitment to the students extended outside the lines into his work as a teacher.
“We taught World History together and the big thing about Jeff was he knew what he felt. He would tell you what he thought. There was no political correctness involved. He was very open and honest and genuine,” Cartersville High teacher and former basketball coach Dennis Godfrey said. “We had a lot of fun and the kids learned and had some fun. I really looked forward to teaching World History because of Jeff and I had never taught it before.
“One minute he could really scold a student and get his point across, and the next moment his compassion would come out and smooth out the situation. He made sure he got the attention and what he needed to get done. It was interesting watching that and the kids could feel the compassion.”
His two daughters, Lucille and Olivia also assisted with the wrestling program as statisticians.
According to those who worked with him, Cave was dedicated to Cartersville’s athletic programs.
“He loved Cartersville High School. That boy bled purple. He sure did,” Demastus said.
“He loved wrestling. He was like a kid in the candy store when wrestling season would start. He would count down the days to get to practice,” Edwards said. “He loved the sport and we loved him, and its going to be a huge loss for the school, the community and everyone involved.”
A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Cartersville First Baptist Church with the Rev. Drew Startup officiating. Interment will be private. The family will receive friends today from 6 to 8 p.m. at Parnick Jennings Funeral Home.