Montevallo High School retiree Susie DeMent passes away
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – Retired educator Susie DeMent, who spent more than 50 years working in education and was known at Montevallo High School for her involvement with athletics and the school’s newspaper, died at her home in Montevallo Aug. 7. She was 96 years old.
DeMent began teaching in 1937 in Fayette County and moved to Montevallo High School, her alma mater, in 1946 to teach business education, according to a Shelby County Schools press release. Forced to retire in 1987 because of a law mandating educators retire at age 70, DeMent continued to work part-time (officially) at Montevallo High School for about 15 additional years until 2003, though she often spent 8-16 hours at the school regardless, said Larry Haynes, Oak Mountain Middle School’s current principal and former journalism teacher at MHS.
Haynes said DeMent was one of the best teachers he’s ever known and was invaluable to the journalism program at MHS. Together, Haynes and DeMent helped students produce 238 newspapers in a 15-year time span.
“Teaching was her calling in life,” Haynes said. “The amazing thing about my story is that my first year to teach was her 50th year. She was there for me. She was my mentor and colleague and dear friend during my 15 years at Montevallo…. She was her best every day.”
Among her many accomplishments as the school newspaper’s technical advisor, DeMent received the Gold Key Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 1999, an honor Haynes said is one of the highest awards given nationally.
Haynes went to New York and presented a video of DeMent’s acceptance of the award, while DeMent stayed in Montevallo to dedicate her time to another of her passions – Montevallo High School athletics. The night of the awards ceremony, Haynes said DeMent was keeping the books for the baseball team.
Eddie Williams, who worked at MHS as the football coach and athletic director from 1993 to 1999, said DeMent was “a fixture of all of the football, basketball and baseball games” and could almost always be found sitting next to the coaches.
Despite never having been a coach, she was inducted into the Alabama High School Coaches and Athletic Directors Hall of Fame in 1997, according to a press release.
“Sometimes we get caught up in ourselves and think that we’re the reason that we have success, when it’s really about the people around us,” Williams said. “I’m a better person for my association with Susie DeMent. She got up every morning to make a child’s life better.
“(When I was at Montevallo High School), I didn’t feel like I was the head coach. I felt like Susie was. We lost a very, very giving individual, and I will not see another in my lifetime.”
Visitation will be held Friday, Aug. 9 from 5-9 p.m. at the Montevallo High School gymnasium, which is named after Susie DeMent. The funeral will be Saturday, Aug. 10 at the gymnasium beginning at 12, with a viewing beginning at 11.