Former superintendent dies at 84

Published 3:40 pm Friday, November 1, 2013

A beloved teacher, coach and administrator died Wednesday.

Shelby Searcy, who served as superintendent of the Butler County School District, was 84.

Dr. Jim Krudop, director of LBW Community College’s Greenville campus, described Searcy as a “man of character” and a “master educator.”

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Searcy, a 1947 graduate of Andalusia High School, returned to his alma mater as a teacher and coach. He was an assistant coach on Andalusia’s 1958 state championship football team, and served as head coach from 1960-1964. Later, he was assistant principal of Andalusia High School and federal programs coordinator.

“There is no doubt about it, Mr. Shelby Searcy is one of the finest role models who has graduated from Andalusia High School,” Krudop said. “As a master educator, he positively influenced students, faculty and administrations. Through his character and strong Christian beliefs, he affected leaders and others in his religious and

civic communities.”

Earlier this year, Searcy was named as one of Andalusia High School’s Outstanding Graduates. He’s also a member of the school’s football Hall of Fame.

Searcy became superintendent of Butler County School’s system in 1973. He held the position until 1987 when he became superintendent of Union City Schools in Mississippi.

Neal and Jennifer Dansby, who worked with Searcy in Greenville, wrote a letter of support for the former superintendent during his review process for inclusion as one of Andalusia High School’s Outstanding Graduates.

“Shelby Searcy took his own family from Andalusia, at that time a powerhouse academically and athletically, to a racially torn, impoverished school system in Greenville. Prior to his tenure, teachers and the superintendents had sent their own children to private schools in Greenville Mr. Searcy’s two sons not only survived, but thrived and flourished in that harsh environment. … Such commitment showed he intended to challenge the status quo and lead by example with his family.”

During his tenure in Butler County, Searcy helped establish advanced level math, science and college preparatory courses at the high school level. He also expanded the special education program to include severely handicapped students.

Former GHS head football coach and athletics director Wayne Woodham wrote in a letter of support on behalf of Searcy that the former superintendent was committed to making Butler County’s schools the best they could be.

“He gave his utmost support to build a successful athletic program for our school” Woodham wrote. “I could see that same support offered to all other departments in the system. Because of his background as an athlete and coach, he knew what a strong athletic program could bring to the community. He was successful in bringing a sense of pride and togetherness to a community that had long been lacking those qualities.

“He wanted all programs in his schools to excel so that Greenville could be recognized as one of the best schools in the state. Because of his leadership and support, I believe that was accomplished.”

Searcy was an active member of First Baptist Church where he served as brotherhood director and Sunday School teacher and volunteered for Vacation Bible School for more than 12 years. He along with his wife, Rachel, served on missions projects in six states.

“Whenever First Baptist had VBS, Mr. Searcy was there,” Brandon Sellers said. “He’d be out there directing traffic in the rain or the hot sun, helping out and working with the kids. He was always involved. That’s just the kind of person he was. I think 95 percent of people talk about getting things done, and 5 percent get it done. Mr. Searcy was the 5 percent whether it was helping with VBS or in the schools. He was someone you could always count on.”

He was also a veteran of the Korean Conflict. He served on the USS Renville and received four battle stars during his time of service.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Greenville. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m.

A graveside service will be held at Andalusia Memorial Cemetery at 2:30 p.m.