A beloved pastor from Ashville, Alabama, and his wife of 65 years died just hours apart Tuesday after a car accident that has left their community reeling in grief.
St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell told the St. Clair Times that the pastor, Ed Massey, 85, and his wife, Helen “June” Massey, 83, died after a crash that took place at 9:55 a.m. on U.S. 231 near the intersection with Old Coal City Road in Wattsville.
The husband and wife were both transported to a hospital where Helen was pronounced dead at 11:29 a.m. Tuesday while Massey was pronounced dead a few hours later at 5:25 p.m.
Alabama State Trooper Justin O’Neal told the publication that Massey was driving southbound on 231 when his car suddenly veered into the northbound lane and collided head-on with another vehicle. He speculated that the crash might have been caused by a medical issue but they were still investigating.
At First Baptist Church in Springville where Massey served as pastor for two separate terms, parishioner Donna Robinson told CBS 42 that she was saddened by the tragedy but had faith that the couple is now together with the Lord.
“They are in the arms of Jesus and they are together just like they always had been,” said Robinson.
Russell, the coroner, who called the pastor an acquaintance, told the St. Cloud Times he “was a real nice guy.”
St. Clair County Commissioner Paul Manning told the St. Clair Times that Massey was always ready to do the Lord’s work.
“He was always ready to lead people to our Creator,” Manning said. “It was a blessing to have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Ed Massey.”
He explained that he and his wife were still in shock because the accident happened near their home and it had only been a few days earlier that he connected with the pastor who was an active member of his community.
Springville City Councilman Wayne Tucker, who said Massey was also his pastor at Springville Baptist Church, said the pastor and his wife were dear family friends. Several years ago, he said, Massey officiated his son's wedding.
“It really makes me feel humble to know that he would drive that far just to marry my own son. It makes you feel like he cared. You can tell that he did,” Tucker told CBS 42.
“Just about everyone around here knew him and loved him,” he added to the St. Clair Times.
The Rev. James Sampley, who served as the couple’s pastor at Ashville First Baptist Church, remembered the couple as deeply spiritual and said they always worked to support other ministers.
“I am grateful for the testimony he left behind,” Sampley said while recalling Massey’s sense of humor.
Manning, Sampley and Tucker all agreed that Massey was a man of humor, and all three made note of how Massey often told jokes and humorous stories.
The couple's funeral is scheduled to take place at Central Baptist Church in Argo on Saturday.
The couple, according to an obituary, was preceded in death by their son, Timothy Edward Massey, and is survived by their daughter, Cheryll M. Cross, as well as other family members.