Fort Payne has lost one of its brightest lights. Eddie McPherson was a prolific writer and performer who dedicated his time and creativity toward a ministry of good deeds and helping others.
McPherson, 57, died Sunday after a brief hospitalization in Rome, Ga. Funeral services are planned for today at 2 p.m. at Second Baptist Church with burial following in Fischer Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested contributions be made to the Children's Advocacy Center or Woodland CATS Drama Boosters in Cartersville, Ga.
He impacted the lives of everyone around him. McPherson served as a youth minister in years past and volunteered to tutor and mentor others. He was working as director of Woodland High School’s drama department at the time of his death. Several of his students shared stories on his Facebook feed about moments when he helped them through tough times or inspired them to overcome shyness and insecurities through the arts.
The 1980 graduate of Fort Payne High School poured his writing talents into producing a series of 17 plays in which he also performed over several years. He wrote more than 75 plays/books as well as two novels with a third near completion. He also acted in 21 of 25 plays presented to raise money for the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center.
CAC Director Elizabeth Wheatley said, “Written on a wall of the therapy suite in the CAC is the phrase ‘Every hero has a story’. Eddie had a story. Lots of them. He told them in various ways. His involvement in the Dinner Theatre allowed the CAC to help thousands of abused and at-risk children over the last 25 years. Eddie was certainly a hero. He will be missed.”
His many friends were shaken by the news he had passed away.
“Eddie was the type of guy that when you met him you had an instant friend,” said Fort Payne City Councilman Brian Baine, a close friend of McPherson’s.
“After working with him for many years on the Children’s Advocacy Center plays, he became more than just a friend– he was family to our entire play cast. His passing has left a huge hole in my heart, because he was such a great friend. One thing Eddie would always say, ‘No matter what you are facing or what you are going through, you need to reach inside of you and push that button and always put a smile on your face.’ He truly lived by these words because he would always wear a smile, no matter what was going on around him. I think our Children’s Advocacy Center play cast family are better people for having known the wonderfully talented Eddie McPherson,” Baine said.
Another play cast member, Tony Dobbs, recalled how he and his “friend and brother for 40 years” performed in plays together since the ‘80s. “Only Eddie could talk me into wearing a dress or tutu in a play, and I was the only person who could crack him up on stage. He was such a great friend. I can't imagine a world without his words of laughter. He was such a great teacher to his students, many whom I have met over the years. It was a privilege to call him my friend and family.”
“Eddie McPherson was my friend, mentor, and he was like my brother,” said friend and cast-mate Sandy Lea. “The laugh-until-you-cry moments, the craziness and good times we shared will be times I hold close to my heart all my days. Eddie was a treasure, a rare find. His legacy will go on for years to come by the ones he taught and the impact he made on the many lives he touched. Love you forever, Eddie McPherson.”
McPherson’s legacy will live on through the actors he directed, through the friends he encouraged, through the students he taught, and through the plays and books he wrote.