Member of Pell City’s first BOE dead at 77
PELL CITY – Ernest White, a member of Pell City’s first Board of Education, died Thursday at the age of 77.

“If there was ever anyone who invested time and effort to make the community better, it was Ernest,” said Michael Barber, assistant superintendent of the Pell City School System.

Barber said White, being one of the first to serve on Pell City’s school board, brought a vision to the city’s schools. He said White had the willingness to serve on the newly formed Board of Education, which is something no one else had done before. He said White and others “forged a path” for the future of the School System.

“He set the tone for others to come,” Barber said. “He had a willingness to step up and represent all kids.”

“He was a great, great man,” BOE employee Brenda Reese said. “He did a lot for our School System.”

White was elected to the Pell City Board of Education in 1982, and served until resigning in 1991. He also served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board, the Beautification Council and worked part time for the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

“I’ve lost a great personal friend, and this city has lost one of its leaders,” Mayor Bill Hereford said.

“I’ve known him just about all my life,” said City Councilman James McGowan. “He was a good family man. He was a good person. He worked hard at everything he did, and always did a good job.”

In 1999, White was selected as Lion of the Year by the Lions Club and was honored as Citizen of the Year by the Pell City Chamber of Commerce in 2000.

Joe Funderburg, former school board member and newly elected mayor of Pell City, described White as “hard working” and “sincere” and said he was a “real asset to the community.”

Funderburg said the whole community feels the loss when it comes to someone like White.

“Ernest represented a caring, dedicated individual who worked hard to improve the School System and the community,” Funderburg said. “We need more people like Ernest.”

“He was a genuine person,” he said. “He was the real deal.”

White also volunteered for many groups and organizations, including the Gideons and Relay for Life. He spent nearly 30 years volunteering as a poll worker, registering people to vote, and served as a board member for Lakeside Hospice.

“He was involved in many things in our city,” McGowan said.

White was a member of First Baptist Church on 19th Street, where he served as treasurer for many years, and was also a former chairman of the Deacon’s Ministry.

Barber said White’s willingness, honesty and openness benefited many in the area.

“It wasn’t about him; it was about others,” Barber said. “He had a servant’s heart and made an impact on many people’s lives.”

Barber added, “God couldn’t have put him in a better position to serve.”

The band hall at Pell City High School is named for White’s son, the late Ronnie White, and his son Keith teaches art at Coosa Valley and Walter M. Kennedy elementary schools.

“This community is the beneficiary of his great parenting,” Barber said. “He was one of the finest men I ever knew. I loved him dearly.”

Bob Barnett, who served alongside White as a board member for the Pell City Chamber of Commerce, said he was a “real pleasure to know.”

“He was a wonderful person,” Barnett said.

In addition to all his volunteer work, White also worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 25 years.

Funderburg said he met White through his work with the Postal Service and later sought his advice as a member of the school board.

“He always listened to what you had to say,” Funderburg said.

Barber said that when White worked as a mail carrier, “he brought more than the mail.” He said White brought “smiles” and “words of encouragement” to those he delivered mail to.

“He will surely be missed in our community,” McGowan said. “You can’t help but to miss people like that.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Terry’s Metropolitan Mortuary.

© 2012