Service to others defines greatness

Published 10:11 am Friday, January 22, 2016

This week, Western Tidewater lost two valuable members who enriched their respective communities in ways that can barely be counted. James Allen Minetree Jr. of Franklin died on Saturday, and Russell C. Schools of Capron passed away on Tuesday. Though each man came from other places, they made this region their home.

While “greatest generation” might sometimes be overused, we think it’s a fitting description for them because they exemplified the best qualities of that phrase.

For starters, Minetree was active in World War II, having fought in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily and, most notably, D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. He earned medals of distinction in all that time.

Returning to civilian life, Minetree worked in the forestry industry, which eventually brought him and his family to Franklin. He invested himself locally over the next several decades through work and in starting the 4-H Center in Wakefield, as well as church, civic and social clubs.

Schools, 81, not only applied himself to work in agriculture as an Extension agent, but also no less important in education, having been a member of the Southampton County School Board for 40 years, 35 as chairman. In that time, there were issues of expansion and integration with which he had to tackle. Concurrently, community service continued through active membership at Capron UMC, the Ruritans and Indiantown Hunt Club. All that was in addition to rearing a family.

Their duty to God, country and community is something that sometimes seems to be lacking today. Would that we had more of their kind willing to put service above self.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”