‘The Hat Lady’ also was legendary S.C. coach

From 2010, Sudie Love and her visor at Williams-Brice Stadium
From 2010, Sudie Love and her visor at Williams-Brice Stadium The State file photo

One of the Gamecocks’ most devoted fans and a state high school coaching legend has died.

Sudie Lunsford Love died Friday at the age of 86 at Palmetto Health Baptist hospital in Columbia after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Love, who lived in Cayce, was known at South Carolina athletics events as “The Hat Lady,” as she wore sport-specfic decorated hats for football, baseball and basketball.

She loved all USC sports and got upset when she had to miss anything, said her sister Nancy Love of West Columbia.

“She’s the most beloved Gamecock fan I know. She was the ultimate fan,” Nancy Love said.

Sudie Love was born in Marion and attended Marion High. Marion won three state titles in 1943 through 1945 with Love on the team. She attended Limestone College and received a degree in health and physical education in 1950.

Love was a coach and teacher at Columbia High for 30 years. She led teams that won multiple state championships in track, softball and gymnastics.

She was a member of several halls of fame, including the S.C. Coaches Association of Women’s Sports Hall of Fame; the S.C. Amateur Softball Hall of Fame; the S.C. Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame; and the Limestone College Hall of Fame.

Love traveled with family and friends to many USC sporting events, including four College World Series. She had tickets to this year’s Women’s NCAA Final Four but was unable to make the trip because of her health.

USC coach Dawn Staley and two staff members visited Love in the hospital on Wednesday.

“It’s a sad sad day in Gamecock country,” Staley tweeted on Friday. “We lost one of the best coaches in Cola today. Coach Sudie Love, God called you to coach his angels.”

Love is survived by son Lew and daughter Lorraine.

“RIP Sudie Love,” USC athletics director Ray Tanner tweeted. “Thank you for being a sweetheart and a shining light in our world. You loved the Gamecocks and we loved your hats.”