November 5, 1942 - May 5, 2013
Pinckney's life of seventy years was filled with many endeavors and even more accomplishments. There were changes in direction in career and personal life, but all those changes and re-evaluations of direction led eventually to a life of pastoral care and consideration of others.
Pinckney was reared in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s in Gadsden, Alabama, learning how to live from educated and professionally accomplished parents, his mother a principal of an elementary school and his father the paymaster of a local cotton textile mill. These two were strong leaders of the family, setting high expectations of good behavior, consideration of others, and personal achievement. Their teachings at home were reinforced by the family's active participation in the local Baptist church.
Known as 'Buddy' during these years in Gadsden, he excelled in high school at both athletics and social connections. He was quite the popular star and established friendships in high school which remained important for him into later decades. He was very proud of his high school success in track, basketball and football. His relay team won medals in State track meets. He went on to run track on winning teams during his early college years at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham, Alabama. He played high school varsity basketball, but he really excelled in football. Playing high school football, especially as the quarterback of the team, led to some fame for him.
After leading the team to a state championship, he was offered a chance to play varsity football at the University of Alabama by then Coach Gene Stallings. But at 170 pounds on a six-foot frame, Buddy knew he would probably get trampled in collegiate football. Wisely, he chose to play campus intramural football instead, first at Samford University, then after transferring to the University of Alabama, in the fraternity intramural system there. As he once wrote, his fraternity at Alabama attracted former high school football stars who were not quite big enough nor fierce enough to play for Coach Stallings. Given that talent on his intramural team, Buddy led the team to the campus intramural championship and a very nice trophy for the guys. But the most special trophy for him was a football he discovered stuck in a hedge which surrounded the varsity practice field; he decided it must have been thrown there by Joe Namath, who led the University of Alabama to the Southeastern Conference championship that year. He kept that ball for many years and remained a life-long fan of the Crimson Tide.
During his college years at Samford University and the University of Alabama, Buddy decided to give up his family nickname of Buddy, and to use his given name Pinckney. And he decided to accomplish something besides sports trophies and campus social life. He completed his Bachelor of Science in 1965 and the Master of Arts in 1968, both at the University of Alabama. With degrees in biology and education, he began a career in teaching and school administration, first in Alabama, then in Georgia. Later, after completing his education specialist degree, he served as principal of several schools in Georgia. During this time, he married Elaine Saxon of Midville, Georgia, and they share three children, Melissa, Trey and Tyler, currently all residents of Georgia.
Living in Gadsden Alabama during the period of national and local civil rights activities left an important mark on Pinckney. He felt strongly the equality of all people and would not tolerate discrimination against anyone. These beliefs grew from the environment of tolerance his parents established at home and from the teachings at church where he internalized the teachings of right and wrong. He lived these beliefs and he acted on them; they guided many of his choices in friendship and in professional life. As an educator in public schools, he sometimes found himself in conflict with school boards and public officials when he saw racial discrimination. On one occasion, he took one of his school students to a doctor's office. When the student was shuffled from one waiting room to another, the one for 'colored' patients, Pinckney reported the doctor to government reimbursement officials, since segregated facilities had long been deemed illegal and discriminatory.
During these years as an educator, Pinckney felt a longing for something more. He said once that despite all the college and graduate work and career in teaching, he had wanted to be a minister since high school, though he did not discuss this longing with his parents. Moving from education to the ministry meant returning to school and changing his family life to fit this new endeavor. This plan was discouraged by his father, which was difficult for Pinckney who sought approval from his father throughout his early years. That approval was always elusive, but Pinckney persevered for he felt this new path was important for him, to finally follow his inner voice. He graduated from the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and was ordained in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.
After several years of ministry, Pinckney joined the United Methodist Church and began many productive and creative years of pastoral care, in North Carolina, Georgia, Southern Illinois, and Texas. In later years, he served as pastor for small churches in rural settings of Texas and helped to develop a Shared Ministry Team of four churches whose mission was to serve the mission field around their churches. Pinckney had extraordinary skills in communication and pastoral care of the church family. He particularly excelled in group settings of ministry and outreach to those in need of God's love and presence in their lives. An important part of his ministry over the years was participation and leadership in regional and national social action and ministry groups.
During these years of ministry to others, Pinckney grew in his ability to share himself with others and to receive their love. He achieved in his last decade a place he had sought his entire life, and indeed his father would surely say, job well done, my boy. His mother would be heard saying, "Good job, Buddy!"
Pinckney's final five years were shared with his surviving widow, the Reverend Becky Love, also a minister of the United Methodist Church. They lived in Diboll, Texas, where she served as pastor at the Diboll United Methodist Church, and he served as part-time minister in several churches. Pinckney was Becky's greatest fan and supporter. He respected and loved her completely, encouraging her in all her personal and professional efforts, including her undertaking of graduate work on a Doctorate of Divinity. He loved her drive to accomplish, her generosity to others, and her devotion to her children and grandchildren and to her church family. She brought Pinckney much happiness and he made it clear that these were the best years of his life.
Survivors include his wife, Reverend Becky Love of Diboll; daughter, Melissa Love Sauls and husband Jason of Pembrooke, Georgia; sons, "Trey" Pinckney Victor Love III of Waynesboro, Georgia and Tyler Ewing Love of Waynesboro, Georgia; daughters, Samantha Henson of Ft. Worth, Molly McWhorter and husband Aaron of Longview and Susie Eldridge and husband Denver of Marshall; sisters, Victoria Love of Benbrook, and Nancy Kate Love and husband Tom Pearce of Staunton, Virginia; grandchildren, Harleigh, Baleigh, Becca, Kaslyn, Jeremiah, Greenleigh and Gracyn.
Memorial contributions in Pinckney's memory may be made to Diboll First United Methodist Church, P. O. Box 412, Diboll, Texas 75941.
As with every passing of a good person such as Pinckney, these happy years of his life have ended too soon.
Memorial services for Pinckney will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at First United Methodist Church of Diboll, with Reverend Chuck Huffman officiating.
Condolences may be offered at www.gipsonfuneralhome.com
Services have been placed in the trust of Gipson Funeral Home