Sharing some of the thoughts shared about Dr. Larry Atwell:
J. Tygar Evans, former Rome High principal now leading an Alabama high school:
“What a great man! I can’t imagine the pain of loss for the family. He helped me in so many ways and offered my first principal job at 31 years of ago. He gave me the opportunity and continued to help me grow as a leader. I still use two little aphorisms of his almost daily with someone in my work place. My favorites were, “There is a reason they call work, work” and “It’s not a problem until it is a problem.” Whew, talk about some home run statements of truth! May God bless the family in this time of loss. Dr. Larry Atwell blessed me beyond words in teaching me how to serve others. Again, what a great man! “
Dr. Larry Baxter Atwell, 76, of Rome, Georgia passed away unexpectedly on April 27, 2022.
Larry was born on February 25, 1946, to John Lee Atwell and Zora Ollis Atwell in Banner Elk, N.C. He spent a few of his early years in Detroit but mostly grew up in and around Boone, N.C.
Larry Atwell attended Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C., received his Master’s of Education at the University of South Carolina and earned a doctorate at Georgia State University. He began his career in education in 1970 as a teacher in Cayce, S.C. He later served as Assistant Principal and Principal at schools in Sumter, S.C.
In 1980, Dr. Atwell joined Rome City Schools as a Title I Director. Two years later, he was named Assistant Superintendent and served as Superintendent for 14 years. During his tenure, he was a tremendous leader to many and focused much of his efforts on ensuring that all children in our community had access to a quality education and opportunities to succeed. After retiring from Rome City Schools in 2003, he remained active serving his community through various committees and organizations such as SPLOST and the Christmas Parade, Rotary, the Library Board, and many, many others. He was very active at First Baptist Church, serving as a member of the church choir, Chairman of Deacons, and most recently taught Sunday School.
In his spare time, Larry enjoyed playing golf, cheering on his beloved South Carolina Gamecocks, watching the Braves, and rooting for the Rome Wolves at Barron Stadium. He was incredibly devoted to his family and valued spending time with them. He enjoyed traveling with his wife and hosting dinner parties, and he attended almost all of his kids’ and grandchildren’s sporting events, recitals, karate tournaments, concerts, and anything where he could show his support for their hard work and efforts.
Larry Atwell met his wife Joanna at Mars Hill College, and they married in December 1968. Larry is survived by his wife of 53 years, Joanna Huggins Atwell, his daughters, Erin Atwell Hernandez (Rome) and Lauren Atwell Housley (Athens), sons in law, Sloane Hernandez (Rome) and Matthew Housley (Athens), and grandchildren Sawyer Hernandez, Wells Hernandez, Ollis Housley, and Avie Housley.
The family will receive friends from 1:30pm until 3:00pm on Sunday, May 1, 2022, in the Sanctuary at First Baptist Church of Rome. A Memorial Service will be held immediately following. The family asks in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the First Baptist Church Music Ministry or Broadcast Ministry.
Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, South Chapel, makes this announcement for the family.
Years after he retired as an administrator, Dr. Larry Atwell remained an ambassador for Rome City Schools and his community. More important, he remained vibrant in the lives of his family and his church, as recent as Wednesday evening.
The longtime Rome City Schools superintendent passed later that night.
In a note to family and friends, his daughter — Erin Atwell Hernandez — shared the following on Facebook Thursday morning:
It is with heavy hearts that we share that my dad has passed away. This spring has been filled with happiness, spending time with friends and family, and a particularly beautiful day out and about yesterday with his bride of 53 years.
And as he has for so many years, he attended choir practice at church Wednesday evening. Lauren and I both were able to visit and chat with with him yesterday, sharing the exciting things going on in our own lives and the lives of our families. As always, he was our biggest fan! Anyone who knew my dad, knew him to have the most generous heart and never ceasing kindness toward others. He was a teacher and a mentor at heart and I am so proud to see his legacy alive in our community each and every day.
He taught us everything we know, and we truly see his impact in the lives of our own children daily. He was also an avid sports fan, known for cheering on his beloved South Carolina Gamecocks, watching the Braves, and spending almost every fall Friday night at Barron Stadium cheering on the Rome Wolves.
We will miss him immensely and cannot yet wrap our heads around not having our gentle giant in our daily lives. While our adjustment will be difficult, hugs and condolences greatly appreciated, we hope friends and family will share their favorite memories of him with us! Dad loved a good story! As plans for services are finalized, we will be sure to share.
Within an hour, more than 70 people had left notes of sympathy and support, including many who had worked with him in the school system and in the community. It had doubled by mid afternoon.
He is survived by his wife Joanna, daughters Lauren and Erin, and their families. The family will receive friends Sunday from 1:30 until 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church in the Sanctuary. The memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Henderson and Sons Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Atwell retired almost 19 years ago as superintendent of Rome City Schools, capping 23 years with the school system. “This has been a great school system and one I’ve enjoyed working for,” Atwell said at an August 2002 school board meeting when his intentions to retire were announced. “We have a great board, great students and it’s been a great experience. I can’t imagine any system better to work in.”
Atwell attended Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C., received his masters of education at the University of South Carolina and earned his Ph.D. at Georgia State University. He began his career in education in 1970 as a teacher in Cayce, S.C. He later served as assistant principal and principal at schools in Sumter, S.C.
In 1980 Atwell joined Rome City Schools as a title I director. Two years later, he was named assistant superintendent and has served as superintendent for 14 years.
Biography informaton courtesy of the Rome News-Tribune’s archives.
From Rome City Schools: