George Canty Jr. could have taught pretty much anywhere in the country after he earned his doctoral degree from Nova University.
But this science professor returned to Fort Valley State University, where he was loved and gave love, and taught chemistry for more than 40 years. He dedicated his entire career to molding minds at the historically black university in Middle Georgia, said Dr. William D. Moorehead, a professor emeritus of biology who chaired the college's division of science and mathematics.
"I came in 1954 and he arrived in 1955," said Dr. Moorehead of Fort Valley. "We formed a team here that just enjoyed producing scholars who could make it anywhere in the world, and we were successful. He was a colleague and friend. A super teacher."
Relatives say Dr. Canty was the first black to graduate from Nova's doctoral science program when he received his degree in 1974. He and Lois J. Parrot Canty, his wife of 40-plus years, were Nova students at the same time. A school teacher, she earned a master's degree in counseling and guidance.
"Many whites didn't make it through Nova, and only two blacks were in his program at the time," his wife said. "Chemistry came easy to him. He liked to do the formulas, and preferred it over biology."
On Jan. 22, the Fort Valley resident died from complications of a stroke at Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon. He was 82. A funeral was held Saturday at Shiloh Baptist Church in Fort Valley. C.J. Edwards Funeral Home of Fort Valley handled arrangements.
Born in Montgomery, Ala., Dr. Canty was raised by his grandmother in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he attended Hamilton County public schools. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from Tennessee State University.
Some of the students the professor taught eventually joined the faculty at Fort Valley State University. Relatives said the professor never had a desire to seek employment at larger schools in or out of state.
"I think it was the community here, the relationships formed at the college and his students, that's why he stayed," said his daughter, Cheryl Canty-Aaron of Macon.
Mrs. Canty-Aaron is Fort Valley State University's projects coordinator in the office of facilities planning. She oversaw construction of a new science building that opened last year, replacing the facility her father had taught in his entire career.
Now, she'll oversee a nearly $9 million project to renovate the old building.
"Every building on campus reminds me of him, and a lot of people are here who knew him," his daughter said. "He knew the new academic building had been built, but he never got a chance to see it."
Additional survivors include two sons, George Canty III of Atlanta and Derrick Canty of Fort Valley; and one grandchild.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.