SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Umpire and long-time Warren County Middle School principal Gerald Tidwell died on Saturday after collapsing on the field during a baseball game in Shelbyville.
Tidwell died from a heart attack. He was 54-years-old.
He was a former football player at Westmoreland High School and went on to referee baseball and football for the TSSAA.
Friends tell me they will miss Tidwell's positive attitude.
"You know when I saw him I'd say 'what's up Gerald?' and he would say you know what brother? I'm blessed to be alive today," said Jeremy Tollison.
Refereeing is how Jeremy Tollison knows Tidwell. They would ref high school football together.
When asked what Tollison will miss the most about his friend, he says his heart. Tollison says Tidwell was always thinking of others, like when Tollison lost his mother last year.
"Gerald took it upon himself to drive well over an hour just to come visitation and surprise me when he walked in the funeral home and he said brother we are thinking about you and here if you need anything," Tollison said.
Executive director of the TSSAA, Bernard Childress had this to say on the incident:
"Unfortunately, this is true. The umpire that passed away was Gerald Tidwell. We have not been able to confirm whether he died on the field after collapsing, on the way to the hospital, or at the hospital. This has been devastating and so surreal. These moments remind us how sacred life is and how unimportant the sporting events we oversee are in the big scheme of things. Our thoughts and prayers go out the Tidwell family. We are keeping our focus on God knowing that He will see them through this."
Tidwell has been the principal of Warren County Middle School since 2011. He spent 30 years in education, 17 as a teacher and coach and 13 as an administrator.
He was married to Valerie Tidwell and had two children, Jordan and Daniel. Valerie is a teacher at Morrison Elementary.
Visitation will be Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Covenant Fellowship Church.
The funeral service will be Thursday at 2 p.m.