This is an opinion column.

One of the constants for the Albertville High School Band over the last 35 years is the presence of its No. 1 volunteer, Larry Stephens.

I’m not sure Larry’s contributions to the Aggie Band can be measured. He’s made a positive impact on the life of every band member with whom he’s crossed paths.

My career at The Reporter has coincided with Larry’s tenure with the Aggie Band, and I’ve looked forward to visiting with him on the sideline during any Albertville football game I’ve covered.

“Smiling” Stephens is a good name for him, because he’s never greeted me with anything but a smile. The Lord’s blessed him with a joyous spirit that warms hearts and leaves you feeling uplifted after spending time with him.

Larry is a Christian, and he allows the light of Christ to shine through him. Any believer needing an example of how to demonstrate the love of Christ through words and actions should look to Larry.

During the Aggies’ first home football game on Sept. 3, AHS Band Director Dr. Taylor Cash surprised Larry by presenting him with a plaque from the band, honoring him for his 35 years of service.

Larry’s daughter, Melanie Stephens Gibson, shared a Facebook post about her father and his special night.

“If you’ve been any part of the Aggie Band in the past 35 years, then you know what this means to my dad,” Melanie wrote. “The Aggie Band is his FAMILY and they always will be!!! He is very blessed by the Aggie Band and I appreciate the love you always give him!

“In the late ’80s – early ’90s, I would come home and dad would be in our garage making all kinds of props for the band ... wooden cars, spinners made from PVC pipes, wooden boxes for Danceline to stand on, signs, and the list goes on! When I went off to college, dad just kept on building props and going to the games on Friday night. Anything Stacy Goss, Robert Killian, Curtis Burttram, or Chris Lindley needed, dad was right there with them. Thank you men for always loving my dad and including him! You guys have kept him young!!!”

Throughout my life, I’ve heard people describe Sand Mountain as the salt of the earth. Men like Larry Stephens are a reason why that’s true.

Thank you for your friendship, Larry. Just keep on smiling and being a blessing to the Aggie Band and everyone else who knows you.            

Shannon J. Allen is publisher for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

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