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W.S. Neal offers comfort to Miller teachers

T.R. Miller faculty members, struggling in the wake of the death of their longtime leader Donnie Rotch, welcomed a gift from their crosstown counterparts on Friday.

The W.S. Neal High School faculty — who themselves have been coping with the death of their principal Phillip Ellis just a month ago — brought the T.R. Miller teachers lunch.

T.R. Miller Secretary Brenda Brock said W.S.  Neal officials brought in and set up the meal.

“It was a very nice thing for them to do,” Brock said. “To show that they were thinking of us at this difficult time is something everyone here certainly appreciates.”

New W.S. Neal Principal Patty Frazier said the gesture shows that the schools are united in a difficult time.

“We are two towns, two teams, but we have the same purpose,” she said.

Ellis died July 12, after a year-long battle with cancer.

Both principals had spent at least the majority of their careers at their respective schools — Rotch since 1974, Ellis since 1972. They had a combined 74 years of experience in education in Brewton and East Brewton.

“I knew both of them, having worked in both systems,” Brewton City Schools Assistant Superintendent Baxter Baker said. “They were good men.”

At a prayer service for Rotch Thursday, First Presbyterian Church pastor John Mathieu noted the tragedy of losing two principals in a month..

“We saw Phillip Ellis and his struggle with cancer over a year,” Mathieu said. “Not only for our students, but for our community, we have lost two leaders.”

At the Escambia County School Board meeting Thursday, board member Danny Benjamin prayed for the T.R. Miller family.

“In all of Escambia County and the City of Brewton, we mourn today for the loss of a great man, a principal, a friend, a father,” Benjamin said. “We ask you to send your comfort to the Rotch family in a special way.”