Limestone County mourns the loss of two “Classic Southern Characters”

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LIMESTONE COUNTY Ala. – This past Monday Limestone County suffered two major losses. Zack “Bama Zack” Greene and Hugo “Bubblegum Man” Bates passed away on the same day, due to complications of COVID-19.

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said, “Two days ago we lost two really classic Southern characters, as we call them here around Athens.” The slogan can be seen on the cities website and heard by people throughout the city to explain a person of good character.

Although the community is mourning the loss of two bright lights, Holly Hollman, Communications manager for the city of Athens says they are what makes Athens so loveable. “They’re so engrained into the story of who our community is, and it’s been a tremendous loss for us.”

Most of those who spoke about the men reminisced on memories of the two, one in particular Hollman said when talking about Bates was, “He came up to me and said, a pretty girl needs bubblegum,” and handed her a piece of Bazooka Bubble gum, which he never ran out of.

It wasn’t the interaction with Hollman that was memorable, but also how he treated the kids around town, “Hhas anyone told you they loved you? Well, I’m telling you today that I love you. He was just one of those people that I think woke up every day looking for ways to be kind to people.”

In the spirit of Athens and their “Classic Southern Character,” Zack Green implemented that character into his everyday life and especially on the football field at East Limestone High School.

Head Football Coach Jeff Pugh knows what a lasting impact he’s left on his boys. “He was the one that was there to pick them up when they were down, when they made mistakes. He always went up and put his arms around the kids and they could tell that “Bama Zack” genuinely cared about them.”

Emotional, Coach Pugh spoke on his last conversations with Greene and how this football season just would be different. “It’s never going to be the same, its never going to be the same without him around here.”

Assistant Principal and Football Coach Clint Legg said, “It’s been overwhelming man, the number of people that loved and cared about our guy, Bama Zack,” and that some of his fondest memories were with Greene going to an Alabama game.

Athens will be missing both of these beacons. Whether you were a coommunity member, passing through town, with the school or an elected official, this is a tough loss for everyone. Athens Mayor, Ronnie Marks wants everyone to remember, “recognize how many people their lives have touched and touched in such a positive way.”

Funeral arrangements have been made for Zack Greene. Visitation will be held on Friday night, January 8th, 2021 at Spry Funeral Home from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. The funeral will be held at Central Church of Christ at 2 p.m.

A scholarship will be set up in honor of Greene. His family released this statement, “Our family deeply appreciates your expression of sympathy. Thank you for your support and prayers at this difficult time. We are grateful for friends like you in this time of sorrow. Zack has left a legacy of love and kindness that is essential to our best possible futures as families, communities, nations, and the world. His legacy is a continual expression of the love, values, faith, beliefs, wishes, and people he has held sacred. His legacy will continue paying the good in our lives forward. God Bless. Roll Tide!”

As of now, there are no details on funeral arrangements for Hugo Bates.

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