Your opinion: Oct. 4, 2017

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Willie Paschal: a special leader
Recently, Sumter County lost a very special leader, the kind that doesn’t come along very often. Willie Lee Paschal was the kind of citizen our current community leaders wish they could retain. Why, because Willie returned to his home town and went to work to make the community better. Working in his hometown was not always easy. His voice of moderation was not popular or accepted. He took abuse if he didn’t do what others thought was the thing to do. And he was threatened if he didn’t do what he was told he should do. Willie persevered in doing what he thought was morally correct. He was not short on determination or sternness when the occasion required it. Reticent in public, Willie worked behind the scenes to improve and bring about change. Willie became a contributing citizen; he was a community worker; he willingly served on many community boards. Willie was invested in moving the community forward.
Willie was born and reared in Sumter County. The oldest of eight children, Willie graduated as Valedictorian from Staley High School in 1944. He began his higher education at Morehouse College in Atlanta, but was drafted into the U.S. Army. After an Honorable Discharge, Willie reentered and graduated from Morehouse. Fortunately for Sumter County, Willie returned to his hometown. For the rest of his life, whether directly or indirectly, Willie was an educator. For the next thirty-five years he worked on behalf of children and young people. He was a teacher and a principal. His students and teachers knew exactly what to expect from their leader. Service, discipline and perseverance recurred in Willie’s life. Earning the Masters of Art from Atlanta University, he encouraged young people to, “never stop learning.” Service and dedication determined his activities with the C.B. Dowdell American Legion Post #558 and its Auxiliary; his work with the youth in the Americus community as well with the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity in Albany; his many roles over the years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church. Willie did not give up nor did he let those he worked with give up. Willie Lee Paschal was an honorable, modest and genial leader. Hopefully, a young protégé with Willie’s demeanor and leaderships skills will surface.
Patsy H. Knotts