Former Superintendent, Principal Dies In Tractor Accident

Icon in the Coats community will be missed

A well-known former Harnett County Schools superintendent, administrator and teacher died Tuesdayfollowing a tractor accident on his farm.

According to Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats, family members of Dan Honeycutt, 68, found him near his tractor on his farm after dark. He was last seen by his wife at approximately noon. The sheriff said Mr. Honeycutt’s mother heard his tractor behind the house several times during the afternoon, as late as approximately 4 p.m.

When Mr. Honeycutt didn’t return home, his family began looking for him and he was found by his son, Lance, who is an assistant principal at Harnett Central High School. Sheriff Coats said Mr. Honeycutt was pronounced dead at the scene. He said it appears the tractor might have hit a stump or other object which caused it to overturn. It is not known exactly what caused the tractor to overturn.

Sheriff Coats said he was friends with Mr. Honeycutt since 1968. His children attended Triton High School while Mr. Honeycutt was there.

“This county is worse off without Dan Honeycutt in it,” Sheriff Coats said. “He was a good, Christian man and a family man. We have been friends a long time and his family is in my prayers.”

Terry Byrd was Mr. Honeycutt’s secretary at Triton High School and then at the central office. She, like many at the school’s offices, was in shock.  “The news of his death spread like wildfire,” Mrs. Byrd said.

She will remember Mr. Honeycutt, as what she described, as the most caring man she had ever met. “The children of Harnett County Schools and his staff were always Mr. Honeycutt’s priority,” Mrs. Byrd said. “He was always looking for the good in people and he wanted people to see qualities in themselves they didn’t know they had.”

H.L. Sorrell of Coats taught Mr. Honeycutt at Coats School before later working with him as a colleague.  “He was an outstanding individual who was well liked by his students,” Mr. Sorrell said. “This is just a shock to our community.”

Coats Police Chief Jeremy Hall knew the family.  “It is a sad day for Coats,” Chief Hall said.

Mr. Honeycutt spent his entire career with the Harnett County School System. He started as an agriculture teacher at Coats High School. During his career, he was also well recognized in the athletics community, serving as a softball coach.

When Coats consolidated with Erwin and Dunn High schools to form Triton High School, Mr. Honeycutt moved to the new school and moved into an assistant principal’s position and continued his coaching career.

Mr. Honeycutt was eventually inducted into the North Carolina Softball Hall of Fame in 2011.

The organization’s website said Mr. Honeycutt was instrumental in starting girls softball in the Carolina 1-A Conference in 1974. He started the softball program at Coats and Triton High schools.

A note on the website notes that, “It is certain that the game of softball in Harnett County and North Carolina are better because of the contributions of Dan Honeycutt.”

During his career as a coach, Mr. Honeycutt compiled 268 wins and also had 64 losses. His teams won 11 conference championships and made 12 state playoff appearances.

He would eventually become principal at Triton before moving to the central office staff.

Mr. Honeycutt served as assistant superintendent for auxiliary services before moving to the head position. He retired as superintendent and returned on an interim basis when needed.

Former Superintendent Phil Ferrell worked under Mr. Honeycutt as an assistant superintendent.  “He had confidence in me to hire me as an assistant superintendent and I will never forget that,” Mr. Ferrell said. “I have fond memories of working with him and I think together we helped move the Harnett County Schools forward. He was my buddy and I will miss him.”

A Facebook note posted by the Dunn Police Athletic League said Mr. Honeycutt helped arrange transportation for students involved in the PAL program.  “We are praying for strength, healing and understanding for his family, the Triton High School Family, Harnett County Schools family and Coats community during their time of loss,” the statement read. “He understood the need for community and school relationships.”

Mr. Honeycutt also served on the board of trustees at Central Carolina Community College and was also a member of the Good Hope Hospital Board.

Mr. Sorrell said Mr. Honeycutt was an avid sportsman, and along with his father, trained hunting dogs. Rose & Graham Funeral Home in Coats is handling the funeral arrangements.