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Long-time soccer club volunteer remembered for 'heart of gold'

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Cut: Debbie Oliver, who died Sept. 27 following her battle with cancer, is pictured here with Hendersonville High School Coach Russ Plummer. SUBMITTED

Youth soccer in Hendersonville lost one of its most ardent supporters Sept. 27 with the recent passing of Debbie Oliver.

Oliver, 59, lost her battle with cancer peacefully surrounded by friends and family, according to Hendersonville Soccer Club President Todd Szymanski.

Oliver served the soccer club for more than 15 years in various roles including president, vice-president, treasurer, division director, coach and referee.

"Debbie had a heart of gold," said Szymanski in an email to soccer club parents. "She was a tremendous proof of a true volunteer who led by example. She gave all she had to our club, and never expected anything in return."

The city's parks department recognized Oliver's many contributions in April by adding her name to its Wall of Fame and honoring her in a ceremony at City Hall.

"She helped the club change from the dual focus of travel and recreation players to a single focus of recreational players," said Parks Director Brandon Rogers during Oliver's induction ceremony. "With this change came amazing growth."

Rogers added that Oliver helped the club grow from 400 players per season to over 1,100 players. "Debbie is a true asset to the Hendersonville Soccer Club and the city of Hendersonville," Rogers added. "Her compassion for creating great programs continues to shine."

Also that week in April, the soccer club held the "Oliver Festival," an event that raised thousands of dollars for Oliver and her husband Lester, who continues to battle cancer.

"She had an incredible influence on a lot of kids who never knew her," said Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary, a long-time supporter of the city's youth soccer program. "The Hendersonville Soccer Club is one of the largest sports organizations in Sumner County and she led it well for several years."

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