At the MACE office last night at 10:15 PM, I was talking
to Gunny Yawn, the DeKalb MACE President, when I received another call. This call came from Maggie Sheehan, who served as
the Clayton MACE President for years as well as a member of the State Superintendent's Advisory Council. Maggie was upset,
and I quickly told Gunny that I would call back. Maggie informed me that Don Carson, her former husband and longtime MACE
stalwart, had passed away very unexpectedly. I was shocked. Mr. Haynes, MACE's Field Director and one of Coach Carson's former
athletes, and I had recently seen Don on two visits to the Clayton Alternative School. On both occasions, Don had called the
office to ask us to come to enroll some teachers whom he had told about MACE. Don was always looking out for his fellow teachers.
Always. That's how Don was. He was a big man - about 6' 6" tall. He had played basketball at the University of Alaska,
after having grown up in California. He started off teaching and coaching in Alaska before moving to a rural county next to
Jacksonville, Florida. The Carsons later migrated to Clayton County, Georgia like many of his coaching friends from that county.
I talked tonight to Mr. Ken Hollis, who taught next door to Don for four years. He said: "Don was an excellent educator
and was always for the good of the school. He was a counselor to young people, and he was admired by the faculty and students."
Don was well-known in Clayton County. His disposition was steady, sturdy, and studious. He would not raise a lot of sand,
but, by the same measure, he would not take any mess either. That was Don. If he called the MACE office (and, yes, he was
one of the few members who had my personal cell phone number), I knew that the situation was serious and needed to be addressed.
I met Don about 20 years ago in Clayton County. I knew that he was a stand-up type guy. So, when we launched MACE
a little over ten years ago, I approached Don and Maggie about joining our fledgling union. We were a baby union. We had no
members - just our personal reputations. Without hesitation, both joined MACE. Undoubtedly, they were two of the first ten
(10) members to enroll into MACE. I am always very thankful to our Charter Members. Don was a Charter Member of MACE. He always
"had our back," and I am confident that he knew that MACE always "had his back." In fact, in MACE par
lance, we say that Don was a "made man." In other words, if an administrator tried to mess with Don, that administrator
would have hell to pay. This is a funny story that Don once told me: Don said that it looked like an Assistant Principal at
a high school where he was once teaching was hinting around about giving him an "NI" on an evaluation. Don said
that he looked straight at the A. P. and said: "You can give me whatever you want on that evaluation but if it has an
NI on it, I can assure you that John Trotter will be up here tomorrow." Don said that the evaluation was perfect. Don
was loyal. He appreciated anything that the MACE staff did for him, and he always said, "Thanks, John" or "Thanks,
Bill" before he hung up the phone. I like loyal and grateful people. Don Carson was both. He was a very good man with
plenty of mettle. Don was about to retire in December. He was going to be able to spend much more time with his elderly mother
who was living with him, his wife Annette, and their precious daughter, Sara Rose. Don asked me if he could secure a place
in the MACE Picket Division when he retired from teaching. I said, "Absolutely!" I was so excited about Don picketing
with MACE. He would have really enjoyed it, and we would have greatly enjoyed his camaraderie. One particular occasion that
I remember was being invited to his and Maggie's house for the first Evander Holyfield and George Forman fight. Many people
were there watching the fight and having a good time. On the way home, I hit a deer while crossing over the Flint River and
messed up a Dodge Caravan! These were good times. Don will be missed by all - especially by Annette, little Sara Rose, his
mother, and his sons, Donnie and Brendan. Don and Maggie did a tremendous job raising these young men. They are respectful
and fun-loving and are doing quite well professionally. The whole MACE family extends our sympathy and our prayers to Annette
(who is an educator in Henry County) and to all of Don's immediate and extended family. May God bless.
was younger and a much smaller teacher's union, we felt that we knew each member personally. I remember when Larry Bradford
died in, I think, 1997, Dennis Yarbrough, MACE's Vice Chairman, and I traveled down to the Barnesville area for the funeral.
Larry was on the staff at Fulton's Banneker High School. He had pitched for the Atlanta Braves. It was a packed house. His
passing was also sudden. I remember when little Mrs. Bernice Barnett of Atlanta got very sick - quite suddenly - and ended
up in the Intensive Care Unit of South Fulton Medical Center. Someway, Dennis and I talked the nurses into allowing us to
go see her. Her face was puffed up because of the medication, and she could barely open her eyes. She could not speak, but
she knew that we were there, and she raised her hand. We held onto her hand. She died a few days later. She had a grievance
still going through the various levels in the school system. I remember telling someone that she died still fighting for justice.
She was a little woman in stature, and her voice was so sweet and soft. She would call the office and say, "Dr. Trotter,
I need MACE to come down here." And, we would respond. She was fragile, sweet, very kind, and, like Don Carson, she looked
after her fellow teachers. Her backbone was made of steel.
A few months ago, another longtime MACE member passed.
He was one of my favorite members. He was rather quiet and unassuming, but he had a great sense of justice and fair play.
This man was Charlie Waggoner. Charlie taught and coached at Babb Middle School in Clayton County. I remember first meeting
Charlie when he came to the MACE office about a concern that he was having with a graduate school not recognizing some credits
that he had taken at another university. Our staff attorney, William Woods, dealt with the matter by calling the university,
and the situation was finally resolved. I did not know Charlie as well as I knew Don but I saw him from time to time in the
county. And, about four football seasons ago, my oldest son Robert was playing on the same Fayette County Recreation League
football team with Charlie's son. When I was able to break away from the MACE office to attend some practices and games, I
would see Charlie and we would talk. I got to know a little more of his background. He grew up in the College Park area, and
his father, I think, was a coach (or a referee). I just remember that he grew up around sports and became a coach himself.
As I mentioned, Charlie was low-key, and his button had to be pushed real hard to get him riled up. But, if he sensed injustice,
his back would bow up. He would be mad in a rather dignified manner.
Charlie was not a hell-raiser, but he knew
to call upon us and that we would be there. He hardly ever called the office. He probably joined around 1997. He was a gentleman
and a family man. A couple of football seasons ago, I saw Charlie and found out that he had been fighting a heroic and valiant
fight against an aggressive cancer which was primarily in his hip area. He was using a cane. Part of his hip had been removed
in surgery in an attempt to remove the cancer. I asked him if the doctors felt that they had gotten all of the cancer, and
he said that they thought that they had. However, Charlie needed to go to Houston, Texas (I think) for extensive radiation.
He wanted to have his same job waiting on him when he returned to teach. I remember vividly talking to Mrs. Waggoner in the
Summer of 2003. My sons, Robert and Matthew, and I were taking a little mini-vacation to Athens and were in the Butts-Mehre
Building in Athens when the Answering Service patched Mrs. Waggoner's call through to my cell phone. My sons and I were talking
to UGA's strength coach as we were looking at the trophies and athletic displays. I assured Mrs. Waggoner that I felt that
we could impress upon the school system to save Charlie's same teaching job at Babb. I made a phone call, and this arrangement
was made. Charlie eventually returned to Babb, and he came by the office one evening and we chatted about the job. He felt
confident that the cancer had been effectively dealt with. I told him that I would continue to pray for him - which I did.
But, sometimes, God's timing and purposes are different from ours. We don't always understand His ways, and we won't until
we get to heaven. I know that Charlie, like Don of whom I just wrote, was a good man. I saw him with his family. I saw the
great interest that he took in his son's activities. His son, as I recall, was the center on the football team. Charlie would
constantly offer constructive advice - like, I am sure, his father had offered to him in College Park. Charlie fought the
good fight. He was a quiet and dignified fighter. I tip my hat to him, and bid my friend farewell.
One day, when
I get to heaven (and I will, but only through the grace of God), I will look up my friends like Don, Larry, Bernice, and Charlie.
I will tell them how much I and all of us at the MACE Office appreciated their kindness, gratitude, loyalty, and confidence
that they had in us to empower them as classroom educators. We will laugh about some of the good battles that we fought -
battles for justice and fair-dealing. Others who were members of MACE have passed on. But, being a rather young union (entering
now into our 11th year), we personally get somewhat emotional when one of our family members pass on to their greater reward.
I personally (and I know that I speak for the entire staff) thank each one of you as members - for the confidence that you
have shown in us. We had a new member come into the office tonight. He was very frustrated about the upstart and arrogant
DeKalb principal putting him on a Professional Development Plan. This teacher has been teaching for 26 years with a spotless
record. I told him that we would be at his school next week, that we will meet with the principal, and that, in essence, we
will "make him an offer that he cannot refuse." But, I hastened to tell this new member that we will never give
him a Spelling Bee nor will we ever give him a tote bag (like GAE and PAGE do). He responded by flailing his arms, stating,
"Man, I don't want those things; I just want the principal to leave me alone!" I told him that this was what MACE
specialized in - after I chastised him for not having already been a member. I let him slide when I found out that his wife
is a member in Atlanta. Tell your friends not to wait too late to join. Membership has its privileges. It's been my privilege
to have been friends with great men like Don Carson and Charlie Waggoner. They were old lions with MACE. They entered the
Pride when MACE was a new kid on the block. Now, we are in about forty different school systems and growing like kudzu! We
will always be indebted to men like Don and Charlie who understood the MACE Mission of teacher protection and empowerment
and joined in the movement. So long, friends! As Tiny Tim (in A Christmas Carol) said, "God bless us - every one!"
October 26, 2005