Julie Gentry-Michaels

Julie Gentry-Michaels

Julie Gentry-Michaels, who would stand near the door at the Mother’s Day Out program at Cumberland Presbyterian Church greeting small children with a smile and hug and spent a career teaching and loving her students, died unexpectedly Monday, Aug. 22. She was 60.

As her death became public, heartfelt tributes took over social media throughout the week as people remembered the impact and love she had for many children and her community.

Gentry-Michaels spent 29 years teaching children before retiring in 2010. She taught seven years at Dutton Elementary School and 22 years at Caldwell Elementary School in Scottsboro. After retirement, she became director of the Mother’s Day Out program for several years. She also spent many years teaching art classes to children.

In 2014, Gentry-Michaels was elected to serve as school board member on the Scottsboro City Board of Education after being approached by several people to seek the seat.

“I love children,” she said at the time. “I just hope to make a difference.”

To many, she made more than a difference.

Nat Cisco, who served with Gentry-Michaels on the Main Street Scottsboro Board, said she was a teacher everyone wanted.

“I was not lucky enough to have her,” said Cisco. “These last few years she has become a true friend. She was always concerned with others.”

Members of the Main Street Scottsboro Board all agreed Gentry-Michaels dedicated herself to the causes she was passionate about including childhood development, educational improvement and downtown beautification.

“Julie was one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met,” said Katie Kirkland, who serves as executive director of Main Street Scottsboro. “She devoted her time, talent and passion for Scottsboro teaching, serving as a member of the school board and serving as a board member for Main Street Scottsboro. Her passion and love for this community can be seen in the legacy she leaves behind. She was a kind soul and will be truly missed.”

The daughter of Steve and Nancy Buko, Gentry-Michaels was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Scottsboro at the age of 12 when her father went to work at Halstead. She graduated from Scottsboro High School and later the University of Alabama before her teaching career began.

Those that knew her said Gentry-Michaels was passionate about improving the downtown area in Scottsboro. She helped paint some of the signs near the courthouse square and could often be seen trimming trees and shrubs around the square.

Ritchi Reynolds, one of Gentry-Michael’s closest friends and also served on the Main Street Board with her, said her friend was beautiful, elegant, kind and compassionate.

“She looked great in a hat,” said Reynolds. “Even when she was working in her yard, she was put together. She loved art and scarves, flowers and adventures.”

Reynolds said there were plenty of adventures for the two dear friends.

“I learned lots of lessons from Julie,” she said. “She taught me about plants and grants, essential oils and things I needed for travel. She taught me to eat the middle of the cinnamon roll first, it’s the best part. And she taught me not to be afraid to get lost. Thata’s where the best adventures are.”

Gentry-Michaels was laid to rest Friday, Aug. 26 at a graveside service at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

As her obituary pointed out, the world is a little less beautiful without her in it.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.