Alabaster loses longtime civic leader

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabaster recently lost one of its most active and effective civic leaders, as longtime city resident Willie B. Arrington died Feb. 22 at the age of 94.

Arrington was elected to serve Ward 1 on the Alabaster City Council from 1981-1992, and previously served on the Alabaster adjustment board, water and gas board and personnel board.

He was also a longtime deacon at Liberty Missionary Baptist Church off Shelby County 11, and most recently served on the Alabaster Water Board.

Jimmy Gould, who serves on the Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board, was close friends with Arrington for more than 50 years, and described him as a hard worker willing to do what it took to benefit everyone in the city.

“I knew him for over 50 years, and he always wanted to do what was best for everyone,” Gould said. “He was always wanting to see things better in the city.”

Gould said he met Arrington in the 1960s through the grocery business, and remained close friends with him the rest of his life.

“I was in the grocery business back then, and my father-in-law did a lot of shopping with him,” Gould said. “As I got involved in the city, he and I were on a lot of the same boards, and we worked closely together.”

In 2009, Alabaster renamed the former Fifth Avenue Southeast off Shelby County 11 to Arrington Avenue. More than 100 of Arrington’s family members and friends attended the ceremony, which was held to honor the civic leader’s contributions to the city.

Gould said Arrington helped lay the foundation for the growth Alabaster has experienced over the past few decades, and helped ensure the city would grow in a controlled manor.

“We went to several conferences together with our wives, and we really enjoyed our fellowship and reminiscing about the old city and how it had grown over the years,” Gould said. “He wanted to see the city grow, but he wanted to see in grow in the right direction.

“He wanted good schools and other things that would make people want to come here,” Gould added. “He was a real community person.”

Arrington, who was black, represented a historically black portion of Alabaster, but was colorblind when it came to serving his city, Gould said.

“That was one of the good qualities about him,” Gould said. “Of course he wanted the best for his ward, but he wanted the best for everyone, no matter what color they were.”

Arrington’s funeral was held Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, and burial followed at Liberty Cemetery. Church Pastor Akeam Simmons officiated.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Corene.

He is survived by his children John, Eddie, Willie Lois, Sarah, Corinna and Terita, 20 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Westside Funeral Home in Calera directed.