David Eugene “Gene” Massey was born in Trion on September 3, 1938, to the late Burt & Martha Rutherford Massey. Gene often referred to Trion as “the ideal little town” located in Northwest Georgia. From 1944 to 1951, he attended old Trion Grammar School once located across from the old Trion YMCA. He attended old Trion High School, located along the banks of the Trion River, between 1952 and 1956. He was a pitcher for the Bulldogs during the 1952 through 1955 baseball season.
Gene Massey is shown on the front row, fourth from left, in this photograph that appeared in the 1954 Trionian yearbook.
The catcher for the Bulldogs during Gene’s senior year was Jimmy Styles. Gene and Jim were teammates in school and attended Trion Methodist Church together with their families. Jim stated, “I caught many pitchers throughout the years, but Gene Massey was my favorite.” One memory Jim shared of their playing days on the Bulldog’s baseball team was, “I remember Gene had to buy a metal plate for his baseball shoes because he drug his right foot when he threw the ball, and the toe of his right shoe would crack. The metal plate solved the problem.”
Mackie Carson remembers Gene Massey as a man who “lived life to the fullest. He was always participating, listening, creating, inspiring, and contributing.” He was a man who was “unselfish and considerate.”
Don Henderson remembers watching Gene Massey, Jimmy Styles, and the Bulldogs play baseball in high school. Don exclaimed, “I can still hear the rare occasion when Umpire Cherry Crisp would say ‘ball’ and, louder still, Jimmy Styles would say, ‘aw Cherry’ while holding the mitt and ball in the center of the plate.” Don also remembered the day that Gene launched a rocket over the left field fence at Trion. Gene picked up “a high inside pitch and pulling it to dead left field, across the street into the Martin’s” yard (now Henderson home). Don stated, “We were all blessed growing up to have lots of heroes and Gene Massey was one of mine.”
After Gene graduated from Trion High in 1956, he attended the University of Tennessee on a baseball scholarship. He loved baseball and had a promising career in the major league, but his other love was teaching. He graduated with a B.S. in Education, with a major in Reading and English. The Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees would have persuaded him to pitch for them, but Gene devoted his energy, talent, and time to teaching in Chattooga County. He taught English and Reading at Summerville Middle School. He later moved to Gainesville, where he taught middle school and became the Director of Reading for the Gainesville City School system.
Gene received his Master of Education degree from the University of Georgia, and served as Director of Reading in Hall County, Georgia in 1974. He received his Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Before retiring in 2003, he served as Assistant Superintendent and interim Superintendent in Gainesville, Georgia. He devoted his entire professional life to education. He felt that a career in education would be much more rewarding than a career in baseball. He loved the students, and he wanted them to be successful in life. He was admired and will be remembered, by his friends and peers, for his patience, intelligence, and knowledge of the field of education.
He was an avid photographer and never liked to be without his camera. He enjoyed writing educational and historical articles. He will forever be remembered for his articles in The Trion Facts and published books about his boyhood days and hometown – Trion, Georgia. His first book, “The Chili Wagon, Our Father God and Finger Coffin, Memories of Growing Up in Trion in the 40’s and 50’s.” His second book, “Sweet Milk Once Upon A Time Tales of Life In Trion during the Days of Yore.” His last article in The Trion Facts was perhaps one of the town resident’s favorite. It was memories and stories of the old cotton mill whistle.
Gene is survived by his wife of 49 years, Judy, brother, Terry and his wife, Mary of LaFayette, Georgia; sister-n-law, Elsie Massey of Atlanta, and brother-in-law, John Seidenspinner of Ontario, Canada. He is preceded in death by his son, Charles “Chuck” Burton Massey, and brother, Ed Massey. David Eugene “Gene” Massey died peacefully on May 23, 2013, at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He passed from complications from heart surgery about two months ago. “Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog”
Brad Hayes graduated from Trion High School in 1986, where he played baseball and football. After a distinguished career in Education, Brad became a full-time minister at Lookout Hall Church of Christ in Chattooga County. He also serves as Sports Editor and Historian for the Trion Facts, and as Vice President of Publicity for the Chattooga County Historical Society. He and his wife, Judy, have two sons, Luke and Jake. Brad kindly allowed Chattooga Photo History to reprint this article which originally appeared in the Trion Facts on May 29, 2013.