The Bicentennial Christmas parade grand marshal was recently announced and Haze Mabry Jr., 83, will be known to almost all the kids lining the streets. For the past 17 years, ‘Mr. Haze,’ has worked with the custodial staff at Pike County Elementary School and his impact on the children and other adults there has been tremendous.
“Mr. Haze has breakfast duty almost every morning and there are some kids who come into the cafeteria just to say good morning to him and get a hug,” said PCES teacher Lori Gilreath. “He does everything from fixing flip flops and tennis shoes that fall apart to making sure folks have a snack from the share bin if they are hungry. There are so many students who have adopted him as a grandfather and teachers as well!”
She noted he often works 12 hour days five days a week, especially when there are worker shortages, but he says, “Complaining doesn’t get you nowhere, just do what you’ve got to do.”
Haze is no stranger to hard work, and as a young boy he worked in the fields of Pike and he also worked in the fields during the summer in high school and after high school (peppers, corn, chop cotton) and also at the cannery where he canned peaches, pickles and other foods. He worked until he was 23 and then entered the U.S. Army. He served two years and worked at the mill in Griffin for 35 years until it closed. He built a home in Meansville in 1967 where he lives surrounded by his cousins and relatives.
He said the people of Pike are what have made it such a wonderful place to live for the past 200 years.
“It’s the people and kids who really make Pike special,” he said as he listed many of the teachers he considers as his daughters and some who consider themselves as his granddaughters. “There are always students at the graduation walk that come running out of the line to hug me. I love Pike County and I love the people who make it such a good community.”
Haze Mabry Jr. is also well known in Pike and surrounding areas for his musical talent. He started singing and playing guitar as a boy and formed a quartet called the Silvertone Echoes in 1957 with his brother John Mabry, the Rev J.W. Lewis and Gilbert Colquitt. They performed together for 57 years.
Haze continues to inspire future generations of children with his greetings and sincere love for all those around him.
“There are boys who used to look up to me in the hallways and now I am looking up at them. When I see them, I ask, ‘You remember what I told you, that you’re gonna be taller than me?’ and they say, “Yes sir, you were right.’”