Popular LBWCC administrator Daniel, 52, dies
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007
A longtime local educator and noted historian, described as “bright, capable and dedicated,” has passed away at the age of 52. Dr. Michael Daniel, associate dean of LBW Community College's Greenville campus, was found dead at his rural Butler County residence late Monday afternoon.
“This is a devastating loss for our school. He will truly be missed,” said LBWCC-Greenville Campus Director Dr. Jean Thompson.
Daniel, a 1972 graduate of Greenville High School, completed his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Alabama's main campus.
His lifelong affection for history transformed from a much-loved hobby into a satisfying career for Daniel. He served as history professor at LBWCC and was set to mark 20 years with the school this fall.
During his tenure at the college, Daniel had served as division chair of the Social Science division, coordinator and director of instructional services and associate dean of personnel services before becoming associate dean at the Greenville campus. In addition, he initiated the Social Science Tournament, the College Bowl, and started the Young Republicans Association at LBW.
During his time at the college, Daniel was selected Most Outstanding Teacher of the Year and was nominated for the Chancellor Award for Outstanding Faculty Member of LBWCC. He also worked on the Dual Enrollment Program with local high schools and helped establish scholarships for Dual Enrollment students.
Daniel was slated to become director of the Greenville campus in the fall of 2007, following Dr. Jean Thompson's retirement.
“Dr. Daniel was a wonderful, valuable part of our faculty,” said Thompson on Tuesday.
“His students were very upset when we shared the news with them this morning. We can hardly believe it. The irony is, he came here to replace me.”
Flags were at half-mast on Tuesday at the Greenville campus, where black ribbons adorned the front doors in memory of the longtime professor.
Dr. Ed Meadows, president of LBWCC, came to Greenville to speak with the students on Tuesday and also made arrangements for another professor to take over Daniel's classes, Thompson said.
Meadows said the college is planning a memorial service for Daniel.
“This is a really sad day for LBW,” said Meadows, who visited the Greenville campus on Tuesday. “Everybody is in a state of shock. We're trying to put the pieces back together, but it's clear to see how much Dr. Daniel meant to this community from seeing the number of people who've come by to offer their condolences.”
Many at Greenville High School also mourn Daniel's death, Dr. Kathy Murphy, GHS principal, said.
“This is not only a great blow for LBW, but for Greenville High as well. Dr. Daniel worked diligently to make sure any of our students who wanted to take the dual enrollment courses was able to, regardless of their financial limitations. He really looked after all the kids. We have over 100 students currently involved in the dual enrollment program,” Murphy said. “Dr. Daniel and Dr. Thompson worked hard to make the dual enrollment program a reality and it's their input that really created enthusiasm for the program at our school. When you lose someone like that, an educator so exceptionally bright, capable and intelligent, it leaves a real void in the community. He will be missed.”
Daniel was very involved in the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society, where he served as president for two terms and held a number of other positions. He was president-elect at the time of his passing.
“We are really, really going to miss him,” Barbara Middleton of the BCHGS said on Tuesday.
“Michael had such a lifelong interest in history, not only our local history but our state history as well. He was an officer with the Alabama Historical Association in past years,” Middleton recalled. “He was very involved in his church, Spring Hill Methodist, and had worked to raise funds for their cemetery's refurbishment.”
Daniel was known for dressing up in period costume to enhance his history lectures.
“He was the kind of instructor everyone remembered,” said Meadows, who noted that those costumes were still hanging Daniel's office on Tuesday. “He was an entertaining professor. He was the happiest I have seen him in a long time, knowing he was here in Greenville and in a leadership role.”
Daniel also shared his knowledge of history with members of local civic clubs and organizations and helped organize a recent tribute to General Robert E. Lee hold in Confederate Park in Greenville.
Daniel was a longtime ardent Alabama fan, his friends recall.
“Michael really loved the Tide. He loved going to those games and cheering them on,” former high school and college classmate, Sara Killough Torruella of Foley, said.
Dr. Thompson said every time an Auburn-Alabama -themed fundraiser was held at the campus, “the Alabama collection jar always went on Michael's desk, no questions asked.”
Middleton remembers Daniel as a very “family-oriented” person.
“I've known Michael's family for a very long time and I know how much they mean to him. Michael was so pleased when some of the recipes of his late mother were included in our historical society cookbook a couple of years ago,” Middleton said.
“He loved his family and his community. He had built a house in the country to be near his folks.”
In an interview conducted earlier this month with The Greenville Advocate (and featured in today's Progress edition), Daniel said he was happy to be back full-time in Butler County.
“I have been commuting back and forth between LBW campuses, and it's just nice to be back home,” he said.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Harrison Funeral Home. The family will receive visitors tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday from the Harrison Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Spring Hill Methodist Cemetery.