Remembering Roland E. Pettie

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Roland Pettie's life was short by today's standards, but the mark he left on those who knew him will last forever.

He died Friday afternoon, shortly after classes dismissed at Georgiana High School where he had been principal for the past eight years. He was 57.

Pettie once said he had no higher aspirations than to take care of Georgiana High School and its students and based on the positive impact he had in the lives of his students and the community. He obviously fulfilled his dream of doing just that.

A man who made teaching others his vocation, Pettie spent the last 36 years as a teacher, coach and principal at the school.

Pettie should have no fear that he will ever be forgotten by anyone who has passed through the Panthers' Den.

Watching him interact with his students, it was easy to see he was a strong force in their lives.

He knew all his students by name, and knew most of their parents by name too.

Pettie was always there for his students, constantly encouraging them to not settle for second-best but to strive harder, to challenge themselves each day to exceed their own expectations and to never feel inferior to any other high school, whether it was in their own school district or not. Many of his students have used the strong foundation earned under Pettie to excel at a higher level beyond the halls of GHS.

Pettie was always active in the school's various activities, often silently checking in or playing a role when needed. He was fond of saying that you have to spend time with each student to understand what he or she wanted out of life. His great love for his students was there to help them not only excel as students, but also as good citizens. Many a student will tell you had it not been for Pettie, they may not be the good citizen they are today. He certainly leaves some big shoes to fill.

There will be calls by many for some way of remembering Roland Pettie, but this simple, modest man probably would not want that.

For anyone who ever talked to him, you know things like that didn't impress him. You see, Pettie was the coach and his students and faculty were the team. He took satisfaction out of seeing them succeed, the mark of a true leader.

What would impress him is that Georgiana High School continue with the academic and athletic successes that had been so prevalent under his tutelage.

Roland Pettie's life and work took him all around Georgiana – from the athletic fields into the classrooms and to the main office.

For 36 years, his journey was devoted to the children of Georgiana.

He was one of a kind and his spirit will live on and will always be a part of Georgiana High School.

We, along with countless others, will miss Mr. Roland Pettie for his fairness, honesty, integrity and contribution to the betterment of the children of Butler County and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the faculty and students of GHS as they mourn his passing.

May he rest in peace.