Charlie Musselwhite was always known for his dedication to the schools that employed him. Musselwhite died on Monday, and his funeral service was on Saturday.
Former Gainesville High athletic director Wayne Vickery used to refer to Musselwhite as “Mr. Gainesville” during his time as assistant principal and junior high football coach for the Red Elephants and “Mr. Buford” when he traded in elephants for wolves as Buford’s principal.
“His heart was half green and half red,” Vickery said.
But as Vickery looks back on all that Musselwhite accomplished in his lengthy administrative and coaching career, it’s his allegiance to the students and athletes he taught that stands out the most.
“He’s just tried to help out so many kids in his time,” Vickery said. “And I’m not just talking about the Buford community and the Gainesville community. Charlie Musselwhite would give the shirt off his back if he thought he could help a kid. If you needed Charlie to make a phone call for you, Charlie would pick up the phone and he’d make it happen.”
Current Buford athletic director and softball coach and Gainesville grad Tony Wolfe, who spent time both as a pupil of Musselwhite’s on the football field as well as a colleague later on at Buford, feels largely the same.
Wolfe’s first encounter with Musselwhite was as a member of the Gainesville Junior High football team. At the time, Wolfe saw Musselwhite as a gruff, demanding football coach who didn’t take kindly to laziness or horseplay.
“He was just so hard-nosed and disciplined, but those are things junior high kids need,” Wolfe said. “He was always fair, but every time you saw him pulling up to the practice field, you knew you were going to have a long, tough day, because he was going to demand your best.”
As Wolfe grew older, he came to see the deep passion Musselwhite always felt for his work and for the well-being of his students.
When Wolfe and Musselwhite became co-workers at Buford, rekindling the friendship between the two, Wolfe suddenly became aware of the care Musselwhite felt for all of his former pupils.
“He could be a little bit rough on the exterior, but he had a heart of gold, and he always cared about other folks,” Wolfe said. “His best times were watching other people succeed. That’s what made him special. He took joy in watching Gainesville High and the people of Gainesville succeed, and he took joy in watching the former students of Buford succeed, too.”
Whether as a coach or as an administrator, Musselwhite was always known for investing in people and staying involved in their lives no matter how many years may pass.
Those that knew him well will remember him for all the times he was there for them and all the good he tried to do in the lives of his friends and loved ones.
“He’s one of those people that once he’s a part of it, he’s a part of it for life,” Wolfe said. “Once you were a part of coach Musselewhite’s family, it was family for life. He always was going to care about you and keep up with you. He always had a kind word and was wondering what he could do to help.”