Monday July 15th, 2024 2:29PM

Abit Massey memorial in Gainesville draws hundreds

By Caleb Hutchins I video by Seth Chapman

From state and local officials to family and community members, hundreds gathered to share their memories of late Gainesville poultry icon Abit Massey on Monday.

The celebration of life event was held at Gainesville High School and saw guest speakers including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. Massey, a former president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, passed away in June at the age of 96.

Massey's daughter, Camille Massey, said her father would have loved to have seen that large of a crowd gathering together.

"My dad's favorite kind of setting was to be at the (Gainesville High School) football stadium on Friday, to be in Athens on Saturday, to be at the barbecues at Peach State (Bank) or at the Jaycees, or at the scouts or First Baptist Church. To be outside and mingling," Massey said. "If he had seen this program, he would have said 'can we cut down and extend the mingling part?' Because he always wanted to get there early and stay late about making friendships and connections."

Kemp spoke of Massey, crediting Massey's impact on the success of Georgia's poultry industry.

"Today we honor a man who, in many ways, was an ideal Georgian. A devoted husband and father, grandfather, a man of service and character, and certainly, as you can see by the crowd today, a friend of countless people who call this state home. A leader who also made his community better," Kemp said. "I was thinking about the age-old question of what came first, the chicken or the egg. In many ways, I think it was Abit that came before both of those in a lot of ways, because he certainly helped make that industry here in our state, around the country but also around the world."

Morehead touted Massey's contributions to his alma mater at UGA.

"He ably served as a trustee of the (UGA Research Foundation), but more importantly, he was the wise elder statesman in the room, who possessed the respect and admiration of everyone around the table. When Abit Massey spoke, everyone listened," Morehead said. "Although I was someone who felt Abit would outlive all of us, I am so glad we were able to dedicate the Abit Massey Classroom in the new Poultry Science Building in recognition of his love for UGA and the many students he mentored and supported over the years very recently. Seeing that smile on Abit's face as he entered that classroom is the memory I will always have of Abit Massey."

After the event, Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon

"Abit Massey was Gainesville. We are the poultry capital of the world because people like Abit Massey pushed the poultry industry, which created jobs and created livelihoods for individuals and families here in Gainesville," Couvillon said. "It was a blessing to have known Abit. I think my takeaway from the ceremony is just how many lives he touched. Certainly, he touched so many lives here in Gainesville, but you can see people traveled from far away to come celebrate his life."

You can hear more comments from speakers at Monday's celebration of life ceremony for Abit Massey by clicking play on the video above.

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