On Aug. 20, 2022, Buddy Floyd Hale graduated wearing that unforgettable smile as he marched into the Heaven and met his Savior, Jesus Christ. As he moved from this life into eternity, he was surrounded by his family and used the opportunity to take us on one last adventure together.
He was born in Odessa on June 6, 1952, to Floyd Alexander Hale and Bonnie Ruth Walker. The youngest of three children, Buddy’s sisters, Margie and Brenda, doted on him from the beginning. He loved hunting and fishing and was never interested in sitting still. The family attended Northside Baptist Church, where Buddy found his love for singing as a member of the choir. He had fond memories of singing in choirs throughout his lifetime, especially the citywide traveling choirs that performed across the United States during the 1960s.
He attended Odessa High School, where he played football, basketball, and was a member of the OHS Chorale. He excelled at basketball and was a member of the 1969 state tournament team. He went on to play basketball at Texas A&M his freshman year. From the minute he arrived in College Station, he was an Aggie to the core. Never a two percenter, he held leadership roles in several organizations and was the head civilian in charge of the Aggie bonfire his senior year.
He graduated with a BS in Agricultural Education from A&M in 1974 and became an Ag teacher in Benjamin, TX. While there, he traveled on evenings and weekends to Abilene Christian University, where he earned his MS in Education. He moved back home to Odessa, and, after working a short time in the oilfield, he became a teacher in ECISD in 1985. Soon after, his friend and mentor, Dr. Steve Brown, took a chance on him and made him vice principal at Ector Junior High. He excelled at the position and eventually moved to Permian High School, where he remained as a grade level principal for three decades.
As a principal, he energized students, teachers and staff with his infectious smile and enthusiasm. Although his energy and positivity were hallmarks, it was his talent for helping students believe in themselves that was most powerful. He proved to them how important they were as individuals by engaging them in his own (often unorthodox) ways. Whether it was interrupting class to take an impromptu selfie with them, calling them into his office for a Coke and a talk, or showing up (with wife Lita) to their extracurricular activity or competition. He and Lita wore out several vehicles traveling to student activities that ranged from academic decathlons, dance competitions, ROTC competitions, one act plays, band performances and of course all Mojo athletics. He also had a knack for creating programs that involved kids he believed were on the sideline or left out of the MOJO experience. To name a few, he helped found the Panther Paws Dance Team, the Homecoming Bonfire, the Black Cats & Shovel Brigade Bonfire Teams and the Annual End of Summer School Car Show.
He made sure kids knew they were important to him and to God and that each of them had a purpose to fulfill. Two of his favorite catch phrases were “If it is to be, it is up to me,” and, “Keep your head up and your headlights on God.”
He received multiple professional awards for his service, including the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Distinguished Service Award, Assistant Principal of the Year for Region 18, the Community Statesman award for Education, and he was recently recognized by Odessa College as Outstanding Educator for improving education in the Permian Basin. But of all the awards, his most cherished keepsake was his 2011 honorary diploma from Permian High School. Outside of education, he gave his time and energy both as a volunteer and fundraiser for local non-profits. Some of the most memorable to him were Dancing With the Stars and Celebrity Jailbreak. He was also very proud that he and his buddies, the late Gary Watkins, Fred George and Dan Carpenter, founded Shrimpfest, benefiting the Ellen Noel Art Museum.
As committed as he was to serving Permian and Odessa, he was equally committed as a husband to Lita Louise Lauterbach Hale. He met Lita through mutual friends and within two weeks told her that he was going marry her. She did not see it that way at first but eventually his persistence won her over. They were married on Jan. 31, 1986, and for the next 36-plus years they were inseparable. She supported his commitment to school and became as much a part of the Permian family because she was his companion wherever he went. Buddy and Lita were also faithful churchgoers and enjoyed worshipping and serving in Mass together at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, their beloved church. Over the past year, as attending church became harder for Buddy, he and Lita enjoyed studying the Bible through a podcast.
Buddy loved God above all else, and before his illness progressed, he rarely missed a morning Mass and the Eucharist to start his day. He was a doer and the church often turned to him to lead new initiatives or to rally support when needed. He worked tirelessly as a servant and was especially proud to have helped found the Men’s and Women’s ACTS ministries at St. Elizabeth. His final project was to commission and complete the expansion of one of the outer walls of the church property. He wanted the wall to beautify the view from the inside but also be welcoming to anyone seeing it from the outside. The outside of the wall has the words “Peace Be With You” big and bold so they can be seen from a distance.
He is survived by his wife, Lita Lauterbach Hale, of Odessa, TX; sisters, Margie Horn (Rick) of Bedford, TX, and Brenda Caskey (David) of Odessa, TX; son, Alex Hale and wife, Heather, and their girls, Olivia and Alexis; daughter, Julie Beth Lauterbach Crosby and husband Brian and their children; and grandchildren, Jayme Beth, Brian, Trinity and Trace Welch; Jessica, Kirk and Kyra Ayers; Brandon, Sarah, Benjamin and Connor Crosby; Trace, Lauren, Kinlee and Colt Johnson; Taylor, Shane, Briar, Kinlee and Lane Boatner. Son, Bryan and Mylinda Lauterbach and their children and grandchildren: McCain, Zakrey and Ella Lauterbach and Kaylani Vargas; Holden, Jordan, Harrell, Walker, Collyns and Crawford Allen, and Michael and Sarah Allen. Ashlee Groves and Adalee Smith.
The family would like to thank Home Hospice of Odessa and especially Evette Garcia for the love and strength you gave dad and our family through the hardest hours.
Recitation of the Rosary will be at 7 p.m., Sunday, September 4, 2022, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Monday, September 5, 2022, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. Arrangements are by Sunset Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home of Odessa.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider donating to The ACTS Ministries at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Odessa, TX.