An Appling couple is proof that cats aren't the only ones with nine lives and the ability to land on their feet.
Nearly three years ago, Carol Jean and Dewey Carey were shown the unwelcome mat for the Columbia County School system.
Carol Jean had been a vital central-office administrator, and Dewey was principal of Grovetown Elementary school.
Their local troubles began when Dewey accepted a job as assistant principal at Greenbrier High School. He took the position with the understanding that he would also earn a salary supplement as a coach.
Almost immediately, however, the Columbia County School Board changed its rules to prohibit administrators from earning coaching supplements. The rule applies to all admin-istrators, but the timing of the change was suspicious.
Then, in 2002 as Grovetown Middle School was under construction, Dewey applied for the principal's position. He didn't get the job; the county instead hired an outsider, Tom McClendon, to open the new school.
Dewey is a competitive soul, and didn't take kindly to getting passed over. As a News-Times editorial of the time said, Dewey "got in trouble for pointing out gaps in McClendon's resume." He soon resigned, as did Carol Jean, with both of them accused of peeking into McClendon's personnel file.
If we were superstitious folk, we'd believe the episode was the equivalent of a black cat crossing the county's path. McClendon abruptly resigned just days before he was supposed to start. Later, an assistant principal who replaced Dewey at Greenbrier High got demoted for hiding discipline problems. And without Carol Jean, the central office hired two people to handle her workload (and called it "restructuring").
No such bad luck for the Careys. Though Dewey at first had to travel to near Atlanta to get a new job, Carol Jean got on board with Warren County -- and within months became superintendent. In 2004, one of her schools was designated a Georgia School of Excellence.
Now, Dewey has moved up in the world, too. He's principal of Madison County Middle School, which he says is the state's largest. And he has been nominated for a principal of the year award from a state school organization.
Even with the happy turn of events, I ran into the Careys at a sad occasion this past week: The funeral of Carey Tankersley. It was held at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Winfield; Carol Jean teaches Sunday school there, and played piano at Tankersley's funeral.
Even at such a somber scene, it was good to see the two have landed so firmly on their feet.
Another sad loss
This past week was a sad one with three significant Columbia County funerals in two days. In addition to Mr. Tankersley and Charles Allen Sr. (father of former Columbia County Commissioner Charles Allen Jr. and father-in-law of Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen), there was at least one other pang of loss: Viola Dozier.
I knew her only as Mama Dola. She was the 91-year-old grandmother of my boyhood friend, Jeff Jordan, and I best remember her because she once fed a couple of hungry teenage boys slices of just-baked pound cake with strawberry preserves.
Mama Dola was legendary for making things, from baked goods to knitted items. She would be pleased to know that another grandson -- "Little Allen" Tankersley -- hand-built a casket for her out of native red cedar.
It was a thing of beauty made for a woman of beautiful spirit. May she rest in peace.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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