MICHIGAN CITY — Al Whitlow touched many lives, especially children, during his career in education and other forms of public service.
Out of respect for Whitlow's distinguished service, Bryant Dabney still called him Mr. Whitlow close to two years after the men joined together on the City Council.
"He used to joke with me about calling him Councilman Whitlow, but I never could do it," Dabney said.
Whitlow, 78, who was also an assistant coach on the 1966 Elston High School state championship basketball team, died unexpectedly Sunday.
Whitlow was also on the City Council in the 1980s. When he didn’t seek re-election, he was succeeded by Tom Alevizos, who is now in his second six-year term as judge in LaPorte Circuit Court.
Alevizos said Whitlow was honest in his desire to mentor and support people and help in other ways.
"There’s just a handful in every community that you can thank your lucky stars you’ve had. Truly a great citizen of ours," Alevizos said.
Whitlow was a 1957 Elston graduate who returned to his alma mater as a teacher and assistant coach on the last high school team in the city to win a state basketball title.
He later became a junior high school principal and interim superintendent in Michigan City before retiring from education in 1996 as director of personnel and labor relations for Franklin Township Schools in Indianapolis.
Whitlow was executive director of the Michigan City Boys & Girls Club from 2001 to 2014.
Dabney said he knew Whitlow as a student but got to know him as an adult volunteering at the club.
"I really got to know him as a person and how good of a man he was by the way he dealt with the folks at the Boys & Girls Club. That was awesome," he said.
Sitting beside him during council meetings, Pat Boy said he thought of Whitlow as sort of a "moral compass."
"I liked working with him. He was very practical about things that were going to happen and things that needed to be done," Boy said.
Funeral arrangements for Whitlow were pending Monday with Coleman & Hicks Funeral Home in Michigan City.