Larry Sides, educator and longtime Stanfield commissioner, has died

Larry Sides, a Stanfield board of commissioner for almost two decades and a longtime educator, died Thursday. He was 87.

Larry Sides

“Larry was a very thoughtful person who cared about the community he grew up in and tried to make it a better place for everyone,” said former Stanfield mayor Kevin Barbee, who served most of his tenure with Sides on the board. They both were elected in 2005, he recalled.

During his 17 years as a commissioner before stepping down in 2021, Sides “filled in just about all the positions at one time or another,” Barbee noted.

He had most recently been in charge of updating the board of commissioners with news regarding the town’s streets and parks and recreation department.

“He served wherever he was asked to serve and tried to make a difference on the council,” Barbee added.

Born in 1935, Sides joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina before being deployed to Iceland.

He was a teacher and a band director before becoming a principal within the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System. Sides eventually came to work for Stanly County Schools, where he served as an interim principal, along with serving as a substitute for several teaching and administrative positions as recently as 2013, according to the district.

Sides was married to the late Mary Wilson Sides, a teacher at Stanfield Elementary, who passed away last month.

Besides his political and educational pursuits, Sides was also deeply devoted to his church. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Stanfield, where he was the minister of music for more than 50 years. He was also a Boy Scouts leader. His wife Mary was an organist for many years.

“They were more than just music people, they were just a team that everybody looked to and depended on,” said pastor Bruce League, noting the couple were involved in numerous ministries within the church.

“You know how people say ‘they’re the pillars of the church,’ I think that’s really who they were,” League added.

Friend and fellow commissioner Jerry Williams mentioned Sides enjoyed working with young people and had a “soft heart.”

“He listened to everything and then he made his decision on which way he wanted to vote,” Williams said.

“I really feel sorry because I’ve lost a good friend,” Williams added, calling Sides “one of a kind.”

His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Stanfield.