PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Former students and fellow teachers are remembering the life of one Pigeon Forge Middle School teacher. 

George “Ken” Pitts was a long-time educator and coach at Pigeon Forge Middle School.

“I met Mr. Pitts in 1990 my first year at Pigeon Forge Middle School,” said Tony Nichols who taught 5th grade at the time. “He was glad to see some more male teachers join the faculty at Pigeon Forge Middle. Back then the ratio of male to female teachers was more female than male.”

Nichols said he learned a lot from Pitts that he would take with him throughout the rest of his 30-year teaching career.

“He had a great sense of humor and when you teach middle school, you got to have that to work with children that age,” said Nichols.

It was his sense of humor that his students remember as well.

“I remember him always making jokes and making things light and he made things fun, and he made it easy to learn math too. I feel like that was like my hardest subject and so to have a teacher to take a little extra time in their day to put a little extra on a subject really helped you learn a lot better,” said Eryn Aubuchon.

She had Pitts for math class. Aubuchon explained, that it wasn’t all fun and games. Pitts took his teaching very seriously.

“I will never forget this, I got a D on my report card and I was so upset. One, I was so scared to take it home to my parents because I had never made a bad grade before. I had always been an A/B student.” She adds, “I just remember talking to him and I was so upset and I didn’t understand why and he just told me, you know I hadn’t applied myself and I think at that time I was a little rambunctious and I wasn’t paying attention in class.”

Pitts was strict but he cared about his students.

“As far as teaching me, he taught me that, you know I really had to work for my grade and that if I applied myself I could do better,” said Aubuchon.

His students are now remembering one of their favorite teachers who made a big impression on their lives.

“He was very strict but he wanted to inspire you and push you forward in anything that you did,” said Danielle Whaley. “With a teacher like him who pushes you and makes those tough times worth it, it’s something you hold onto.”

It’s the biggest lesson his students will take away from his classroom.

“I had Mr. Pitts in the 8th grade at PFMS. Humor was a part of his everyday curriculum. You never left his class without a smile. He always joked about being a “fat man” and said he bought his clothes from a tent maker! 😅 He was truly a wonderful person. I know that he’s still making everyone laugh in his eternal resting place. We love you forever, Mr. Pitts!!,” wrote Danielle Thompson, another former student.

Pitts is a Vietnam veteran who served in the marine corp. He will be laid to rest at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday. Those who wish to send their condolences can do so online here.