Retired Middle Georgia College professor dies in house fire

lfabian@macon.comJanuary 10, 2013 

State fire marshals and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are looking into a fatal house fire that killed a retired college professor Thursday morning in Bleckley County.

Larry Elwynn Libby, 67, was found dead in his bed after the 6:30 a.m. blaze was reported by a passing school bus driver, said Glenn Lord, chief of the Cochran-Bleckley County Fire Department.

The three-bedroom, brick ranch house at 147 Hudson Jones Road was destroyed.

Lord said the house was engulfed with flames shooting 30 feet into the air.

“We had a truck there in about 5 minutes,” he said.

Dodge State Prison’s inmate firefighters assisted in fighting the fire since many of the community’s volunteers had already reported to work, Lord said.

Crews were on the scene for about 3 hours.

The fire started in the living room/dining room area of the house, and the cause was not immediately known, said Glenn Allen, spokesman for Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Lord thinks the longtime math teacher had smoke detectors in the home, but he did not know if they were working.

Allen said investigators found no evidence of a working smoke alarm in the home.

Everyone is urged to make sure smoke detector batteries are working.

Hudgens is traveling Friday to Dublin with free batteries for firefighters to distribute there, Allen said.

Libby recently retired from the former Middle Georgia College, now Middle Georgia State College.

Mary Lou Frank, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the Cochran campus, recognized Libby’s contributions to the community.

“We sincerely valued and respected Larry Libby’s dedication to our students and the college,” Frank said in a statement released by the college. “We will miss him and send our sympathies to his family.”

Libby also taught at Bleckley County High School.

Lord was in his high school algebra class during the chief’s sophomore year.

“He was a good guy, a fine guy,” Lord said. “I can’t say anything bad about him. He taught a lot of people over the years.”

A recommendation for Libby from an anonymous Middle Georgia college student at the website states: “He really will take the time to help you out. I’m horrible at math and I passed!”

Funeral arrangements for Libby are pending.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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