The Rhea County community said goodbye to longtime Rhea County Director of Schools Jerry Levengood during a funeral service held at Eagle Stadium on Tuesday.
Levengood passed away Saturday, March 6, and was laid to rest after his funeral service in Rhea Memory Gardens cemetery.
Jesse Messimer, Rusty Revis, Bobby Schafer and Shane Johnston officiated the service and each said that their friendship with Levengood had a tremendous affect on their lives.
Revis, Schafer and Johnston spoke to Levengood’s faith, pointing out that Levengood was called to preach at the age of 16. After becoming ordained in the ministry at 19, he eventually went on to pastor at the Lake Drive Baptist Church from 1983 to 1988, then pastor of Yellow Creek Baptist Church from 1989 to 1999 and most recently as pastor of Walden’s Ridge Baptist Church from 2000 until recently retiring due to his health.
Messimer said that when he met and began working with Levengood, he came to view him as a mentor.
“I understood from the beginning he was a man I wanted to learn from,” Messimer said. “He was my mentor. Jerry Levengood was a dear friend of mine. He loved this school system. He loved this county. He loved God.”
“I’ve known Jerry Levengood for 25 to 30 years. He’s always been a leader. This is a great loss for Rhea County,” Rhea County School Board Chair John Mincy said. “He cared about everyone in the school system.”
State officials also mourned Levengood’s passing, and State Sen. Ken Yager said that he will miss discussing education policy with Levengood.
“Jerry Levengood was a rock-solid public servant whose one goal was to provide the best education possible to Rhea County students,” Yager said. “I will miss his sound advice on education policy. My sincere condolences are offered to his family and many friends.”