Sedley craftsman dies at 81

Published 10:55 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

SEDLEY—Village residents are mourning the death of well-known craftsman E.B. Gayle, who died Thursday at age 81.

“He was a very kind and generous man, and I will miss him,” said Sedley resident Anne Bryant, whose husband, H.B., is part of a group of men who gather at the Sedley Volunteer Fire Department each day — sometimes twice a day — to chat.

Gayle was an integral part of the crew, H.B. Bryant said.

“We were up there just about every morning,” Bryant said with a laugh. “We’d be sitting around at the firehouse talking about weather and sports or politics or whatever. He was a great person. I’m glad I got to know him as well as I did.”

Word spread quickly through Sedley about Gayle’s death. A notice was posted in the post office and the Sedley store.

Gayle, though described by many as a private person, was very well known in the area for creating detailed models of historic buildings, and home places for family and friends, since his retirement in 1984 as a pipefitter for Union Camp Corp.

Some of the buildings he re-created are the Rochelle-Prince House in Courtland, Sunnyside Plantation near Courtland, the Black Creek School and the Raiford Hospital in Sedley.

His last project was a replica of the historic Town House, formerly located at South High and Barrett streets in Franklin.

The detailed project took him two years to complete.

“He was a good craftsman,” said longtime friend Jack Hundley, also part of the unofficial firehouse club. “He told me many a time that while he was building those models that he would have to walk away from it.”

Hundley and Gayle, who both retired from the maintenance department at the paper mill, were integral in starting the fire department many years ago.

“We even mixed up the mortar together,” Hundley said.

Besides being co-workers, the two were close buddies.

“He was probably one of my oldest, longest friends,” Hundley said. “We spent many a Christmas together doing Santa Claus for our kids when they were growing up. We did a lot of things together in our younger days.”

Gayle didn’t take orders for his replicas. In fact, his friends said, he created what he wanted when he wanted.

That’s what made owning one so special.

“He did the house where my daddy was born and raised and gave it to me for my 65th birthday,” Hundley said. “It touched me. I have it on display all the time.”

Gayle also created a model of H.B. Bryant’s childhood home on Darden Scout Road, which is now gone.

“I was tickled to death to get it,” Bryant said. “It’s unreal. Everything in the original structure is there. We’re going to miss him, I tell you.”