Former Muscogee County School Superintendent Jim Buntin said Dennie Trotter was someone who excelled at all levels.
"He did so because of his outstanding character," Buntin said of Trotter, who died Monday. He was 87.
Trotter was a former coach, teacher and assistant principal at Jordan Vocational High School, as well as principal at Daniel Junior High School and executive director of the Columbus YMCA. In 2011, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp awarded Trotter the Georgia Citizen of the Year award.
A native of Madison, Ga., Trotter served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and survived when his ship was blown up by a Japanese kamikaze airplane. He graduated from Auburn University in 1948 and earned his master's degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn. He coached and taught at Dasher Bible School, which is now Georgia Christian School.
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"I knew him a long time and we were friends, but out of respect I always called him Mr. Trotter," Buntin said. "Anyone with a son or daughter would want the kind of individual that he was to be a part of their life."
Dan Kirkland, a former basketball star at Columbus High School and Auburn University, called Trotter "the best basketball coach I ever had."
Kirkland, now a farmer in Seale, Ala., played youth basketball at the YMCA under Trotter. He recalled his teams won state titles and did not lose a game in five years.
"He was a really good guy," Kirkland said. "He knew how to get the most out of players. He cared about people. When playing for him, I never heard him say a cuss word. He would never belittle a player."
Larry Beaty, an associate professor of educational leadership at Columbus State University, said he will miss Trotter.
"He was a terrific individual," Beaty said. "He gave me my first job in administration as an assistant principal at Daniel. He cared about his students and his teachers. He did such a good job with both. I learned so much from him. One thing about him is that he always stood up for what was right, even if it might hurt him."
Dan Trotter said he thought his father might like to best be remembered "as a man of integrity."
"He always wanted to set a good example for others," Dan Trotter said.
A service to celebrate the life of Dennie Trotter will be Thursday at 3 p.m. in the chapel of Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 4071 Macon Road in Columbus.
A private internment will follow in Parkhill Cemetery.
Visitation is 6-8 p.m. today at the funeral home.
Trotter, who was born April 12, 1925, is survived by his wife of 68 years Jo Ann Frazier Trotter and three children -- Dan Trotter Jr., Patti Lou Trotter and John Trotter -- as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.