WARRENTON - Albert J. Massey, a well-known educator, former school system administrator, church deacon and civic leader, will be remembered as an outstanding leader among his many attributes and will leave "a tremendous void" in Warren County, according to one local government leader.
Mr. Massey, who had served as assistant principal and later as principal of Warren County High School, died Sunday, July 3, from an apparent heart attack that he suffered earlier in the night at his home in Warrenton. He was taken to McDuffie Regional Medical Center in Thomson where he passed away.
"Mr. Massey will leave a legacy of education and leadership to all of us in Warrenton and Warren County," said Warrenton Mayor Tony Mimbs, one of an estimated 850 people who attended Mr. Massey's funeral in the auditorium of Warren County High School last Friday. "He will leave a tremendous void."
Burial was held later in the day at Westview Cemetery in Thomson.
The mayor described Mr. Massey as a man "with consistent dignified behavior" and that he would leave behind a legacy in education. "Education is what he lived for. He was a community leader who demonstrated in action and words that he cared. Mr. Massey was a unifier - not a divider."
Milledge Samuels, whose family moved from the Little Brier Creek area of McDuffie County to Warrenton back in 1960, was a former student and athlete under Mr. Massey.
"Mr. Massey was the most dedicated Screaming Devil we've ever had at Warren County High School," said Mr. Samuels, who works for the City of Warrenton and lives in Thomson. "He rarely missed a football or basketball game in the 35 years I've been announcing games."
Mr. Samuels said the former school administrator "was a teacher, mentor, role model and a long, long time friend. He was a great man. It's sad that he's gone, but great that he passed our way and contributed to the growth of our lives. We just thank God that he passed our way."
Bunny Hunter, who had known Mr. Massey for a number of years, described her friend as "a very gentle, quite and humble man, always respectful of other people. He was a leader. I never heard anybody say an unkind word about him and I never heard him say anything bad about anybody. He had a heart as big as a full moon."
Anytime the Warren County Booster Club needed to raise money for athletic programs at the school, Mr. Massey and his wife, Emily, were always two of the first people to offer their help and financial assistance, said Craig Hunter, who serves as treasurer of the booster club.
"Mr. Massey loved the students at Warren County High School and he loved those who participate in athletics," added Mr. Hunter.
"Mr. Massey was a good man, who cared a lot about the kids in the Warren County School System," said Joey Kaney, who serves as official statistician for the WCHS football team. "We will greatly miss him and all that he did in supporting the schools and athletic programs."
Several pastors, including the Rev. Frederick Favors of Springfield Baptist Church of Thomson, as well as others shared prayers and memories of Mr. Massey to a standing room only crowd of family and friends during funeral services inside the school auditorium. Warren County Sheriff Joe Peebles called it one of the largest funerals he's ever seen during his nearly 20 year career.
Cedric Bacon, a member of the WCHS Class of 1983, and now president of the high school booster club, said, "Mr. Massey was a great man, but always a servant, first. He and Mrs. (Emily) Massey were the greatest contributors to WCHS, period. Let's remember him by being the best servants we can be."
Charles Culver, former school superintendent of Warren County Schools and a long time friend said of Mr. Massey, "He was a friend, co-worker and a church member. Mr. Massey never stepped to the side when it came time to donate to the church. We have suffered a great loss. Mr. Massey was a shining light for others to follow and a man who served the Lord seven days a week."
James Isom, of Thomson, who serves as music director at Springfield Baptist Church, said of his longtime friend, "He seemed to have all the fruits of the spirit."
Mr. Massey was described as "a bridge builder" by another friend and fellow church leader, Lawrence Bacon at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Warren County.
"He had the right relationship with God," said Mr. Bacon. "If you haven't got the right relationship with God, then you can't have a right relationship with anybody. He talked it and lived it."