John M. Givens died peacefully on July 23, 2013 after complications related to a stroke at the age of 72. Mr. Givens was born in Brookhaven, MS 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 (son-in law Stephen) and Patrece Givens Keeter (son-in law John), grandchildren Olivia Ann Keeter (10) and John-Marshall Horace Keeter (4), along with 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 Bachelors Degree in Science and later obtained his Masters 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, GA) where he met his future wife Patricia Hensley who taught physical education at the school. Mr. Givens then transferred to the Fulton County School System where he taught math and coached football at Campbell High School (Fairburn, GA). Mr. Givens continued his career in 1969 with a promotion to Vice-Principal at M.D. Collins High School (College Park, GA). In 1972, Mr. Givens was promoted to Principal of Hapeville High School (Hapeville, GA). After a long tenure at Hapeville High School, in 1983 he transferred to become the last Principal of Palmetto High School (Palmetto, GA) 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. Mr. Givens 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, GA until the time of his retirement when he moved to Madison, GA. 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. Mr. Givens 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, GA, 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 Deer Tractor and on his ATV four wheeler. Before physically unable, Mr. Givens enjoyed camping in the north Georgia mountains on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, GA 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 Cafe Hot Wings with his friends, the hot wings gang. It should be noted that Mr. Givens lovingly and faithfully was the primary care giver 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 will receive visitors at A.E. Carter Funeral Home in Madison, GA on Friday, July 26, 2013 from 5 to 7 PM. A funeral service will be held at A.E. Carter Funeral Home on Saturday, July 27, 2013, 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.
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