John M. Givens died peacefully July 23, 2013 after complications related to a stroke at the age of 72. He was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi on August 30, 1940.He was preceded in death by his parents Siller Wilkinson Givens and Marshall Givens.
He is survived by his loving wife of 46 years Patricia Hensley Givens and daughters, Sheryl Givens Gantz and son-in-law Stephen and Patrece Givens Keeter and son-in-law John, grandchildren Olivia Ann Keeter 10, and John-Marshall Horace Keeter 4, and many family and friends.
Mr. Givens began life as a poor, rural boy in southern Mississippi. He loved education and athletics and viewed them as a way to advance his life condition. In his adult years he would not eat beans or rice because he had eaten them so often as a child. At age 16 he drove the local school bus route picking up other children and delivering them to school.He enjoyed sports and was an excellent basketball player. Mr. Givens is a graduate of Ruth High School and earned an Associate Degree at Copiah – Lincoln Community College. He continued his education at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Science and later obtained his Master’s Degree in Education specializing in science.
Mr. Givens combined his love of education and sports into a career. He began his career teaching science in the Clayton County School System at Forest Park Junior High School, Forest Park, where he met his future wife Patricia Hensley who taught physical education at the school. He then transferred to the Fulton County School System, where he taught math and coached football at Campbell High School in Fairburn. He continued his career in 1969 with a promotion to Vice Principal at M. D. Collins High School College Park. In 1972 Mr. Givens was promoted to Principal of Hapeville High school in Hapeville. After a long tenure at Hapeville High School in 1983 he transferred to become the last principal of Palmetto High School in Palmetto, which closed in 1990.
Mr. Givens continued serving the students of Fulton County as Athletic Director and finally ended his career as Assistant Principal at Frank McClarin Alternative School. He also served as a member of the Fulton County Teachers Pension Board for a number of years. Until his death he was a strong supporter of the value and importance of a public school education.
During his tenure at Hapeville High School one of his students was comedian Jeff Foxworthy who often mentioned Mr. Givens by name or title during interviews and at his shows. During his tenure at Palmetto High School he was very proud of the multiple State Football championships and could often be seen on the sidelines when the team was winning big or losing big, otherwise staying in the press box. Even though Palmetto High School closed in 1990 Mr. Givens could be seen proudly wearing his Palmetto Raider coaches shirts and jackets his entire life. His role as an educator impacted the lives of many students during the course of his career and was often approached by grateful students long after he retired.
Mr. Givens resided in Riverdale until the time of his retirement when he moved to Madison. He became a Mason in 1983 and was a dual member of the Hapeville Masonic Lodge and Madison Masonic Lodge at the time of his death. He served as Past Master of Hapeville Lodge # 590. He also served as Treasurer of the Madison Lodge # 376 until his health restricted him from doing so. Mr. Givens was a long time member of the Hapeville Lions Club prior to his relocation to Madison, serving in leadership roles up to and including president.
John Givens had a soft spot in his heart for children and animals, especially those in disadvantaged situations. He found joy in the lives of his children and grandchildren and was lovingly called “PaPa” He enjoyed driving his grandchildren around the farm on his restored 1935 John Deere Tractor and on his ATV four-wheeler. Before physically unable he enjoyed camping in the north Georgia Mountains on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee with his family at the Georgia mountain Fairgrounds, where he often was able to see county music singers such as his favorite, Gene Watson. Until later in life he enjoyed his weekly dining at Café Hot Wing with his friends, the hot wings gang. It should be noted that Mr. Givens lovingly and faithfully was the primary caregiver over the past four years to his wife Patricia after she suffered a life altering health condition, never going to bed without a good night kiss.
The family received visitors at A. E. Carter Funeral Home in Madison on Friday, July 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. A funeral service was held at A. E. Carter Funeral Home Saturday, July 27 followed by a Masonic Graveside Ceremony at the Madison City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be given to the Livsey Elementary School (DeKalb County) PTO to promote two things he loved: public school education and his two grandchildren.