Editors note: This story is part of a series about the namesakes of Houston County schools.
WARNER ROBINS -- When a tornado struck the city April 30, 1953, Rubin Wendell Lindsey was the principal at the former C.B. Watson Elementary School.
Accounts from those who lived in Warner Robins at the time said Lindsey was standing in his yard on Myrtle Street watching the storm approach when he had a heart attack and died. A total of 18 people died in the storm.
He wasnt but about 35 years old, said Brevard Hunt, former principal at Lindsey from 1964-94 and sixth-grade teacher from 1957-64.
In a decision made to honor Lindsey, what was originally planned as Northside Elementary School was renamed R.W. Lindsey Elementary School. The school, located on Tabor Drive, opened in February 1954.
The school was the eighth in Houston County at the time. In fall 1953, students who were to attend Lindsey Elementary attended school in the afternoon and were bused to C.B. Watson Elementary.
When Lindsey Elementary opened in 1954, 560 students were enrolled at the school.
According to Lindseys obituary, he was married to the former Beatrice Price, of Wrightsville, and had a son named Anthony. He also had four brothers and five sisters.
Hunt recalled meeting Lindseys widow and son sometime in the late 50s during the unveiling of a portrait of the late principal, which currently hangs in the schools cafeteria.
Lindseys death was a very sad thing, Henrietta McIntyre said.
McIntyre, a former city councilwoman and mayor, was employed at a telephone company near the Lindseys home at the time of his death and had to call his parents with the news.
She said Lindsey was a private person.
Former school Superintendent David Perdue was the first principal of Lindsey Elementary from 1953-57. Milton Sutherlin succeeded Perdue as principal.
According to a document from the 40-year anniversary of the school in 1994, the land from the school was originally a pea field. The Board of Education purchased the property from J.O. Jacobs.
Former sixth-grade teacher and school historian Lula Stitt compiled information during her years at the school from 1956-72 and 1974-80.
She wrote, Great things have taken place in these years at Lindsey. The lives of many Warner Robins men and women have been influenced and shaped here. ... R.W. Lindsey Elementary has daily influenced the lives of the people in our community.