When I heard the news about my longtime friend, Albert J. Massey's death last week, I couldn't believe it.
Our friendship spanned three decades.
Suddenly, memories of Mr. Massey, who served as former principal of Warren County High School, came rushing into my mind.
Mr. Massey was a man of deep religious faith; a man who loved his fellow man; and a man who loved his family and community. He also was a man who highly respected other people.
Those who knew him knew that he had respect for them by the way he acknowledged them - whether it was ladies or gentlemen. Mr. Massey always addressed them in a most proper way with Mrs., Miss or Mr.
In fact, the last time I saw and spoke with Mr. Massey was at a recent golf tournament put on at White Rock Golf Course in Warrenton to raise funds for the athletic program. There, he called me "Mr. Hobbs." I told him, like I had done numerous times over the years, that he didn't have to address me by Mr. - that he could simply call me "Billy."
He truly was a man who gave of himself - never asking anything in return.
Mr. Massey passed away from a heart attack on July 1.
It's a sad time for his wife and family, as well as his many, many friends.
When I last saw Mr. Massey, I made it a point to let him know what he meant to me and to many of the fine people of Warren County.
Mr. Massey was a most honorable man and he demonstrated such by the way he carried himself - always conducting his self in a gentlemanly fashion.
He will be missed by me and so many other people in Warren and surrounding counties in Georgia. We all have lost a great educator, civic leader and a man who cared so much about other people.
Mr. Massey enjoyed putting others first, while putting himself last.
He believed strongly in the African teachings that it takes a village to raise a child. Indeed, he was and is so correct. In addition, Mr. Massey also believed that every child could be taught; even if some of them were a little slower than other students.
One of his greatest joys was witnessing a child achieve in the classroom. He believed in treating all children fairly - no matter the color of their skin.
Mr. Massey also believed strongly in discipline. He felt that a student who knew and understood discipline was a student who would ultimately become successful someday.
If he heard a noisy classroom, all he'd have to do is open the door. Immediately, order was restored, without a word spoken.