If there are public address systems in glory, I’m confident right now that Mr. Freddie Alfred, my first principal supervisor and mentor in public education, is at the heavenly mike exhorting the angels to sing praise a little louder.  I’ll never forget the early years in my teaching career

My Freddie Alfred, my first supervisor in public education.

In honor of the memory of Mr. Freddie Alfred, my first supervisor in public education.

at Eunice Junior High when he’d come on the intercom for announcements.  What a consummate rhetorician and motivational speaker!  Mr. Alfred could make the pronouncement of the daily lunch menu sound like the cafeteria ladies were serving manna from heaven.  In 25+ years in education since, no boss or mentor I’ve known commanded spoken language with such flair and charisma.  He was uniquely and delightfully eloquent!

Yes, Mr. Alfred hired me off the street in 1987 to teach junior high English.  At the time, I was inexperienced, uncertified, and without a steady job.  He called me into his office a couple of days before school started that August and offered me one of two openings: English or biology.  I chose English.  To borrow an old cliche that sums up the subsequent completion of certification, a masters in the field, and rising to teach at the collegiate level, “the rest is history.”  But that history owes mightily to Mr. Alfred, who not only gave an unknown, unemployed oil field refugee a job in 1987, but to a supervisor who lent effusive encouragement and counsel during the five years I worked under his oversight: nurture and counsel that not only got me through those five years, but gave me a foundation for success in all the places and at all the levels of education I’ve worked since.
Thus, I was broken hearted last week to learn of his passing.  I thank God that I had run into him recently, just last December at a restaurant in town.  His smile toward me that evening glowed more warmly than ever, and I embraced him, the first and only time we greeted with such affection.  Perhaps God prompted us to react with more affection than usual because this would the last time for us to meet on earth.

Regrets?  Naturally, I regret that I didn’t share with him  the thoughts I have written here.  Henry Brooks Adams’ classic saying “a teacher never knows where his influence stops” certainly applies to Mr. Alfred’s influence on me.  But hopefully, this  post will encourage and cheer his family in the midst of their grief and lonesomeness, as Mr. Alfred no doubt looks on lovingly from on high where he’s exhorting those angels to sing praise louder.

Best of all, our faith gives solace and hope for the future, knowing that today’s parting is just for now: We anticipate a happy reunion with him in the glorious, magnificent installment of eternity that follows the present.

All that said, I end simply asking that God bless the memory of Mr. Freddie Alfred,  my boss, my mentor, my friend.