I first met Doc Mahan in the early eighties. I was invited by mutual friends Marty Evers and George Howell to MC at the Brierfield Music Festival. They introduced me to Doc. I knew the family had deep roots in the area and Brierfield Park held a special place in his heart. There Doc was in his element, among friends and family, enjoying a weekend of music in a beautiful and historic setting. It also didn’t take long to realize that music and history were among his many passions. Those appreciations would become the foundation of our friendship. I love music, even though I cannot play a note, or really carry a tune. I also love history, especially local stories and insights about the people and places in our community. Doc Mahan had tons of those stories. They were as numerous as the stories I would hear about him through the years. I also quickly realized that there was history and there was “history according to Mahan.” It made for much more colorful insights into the history of Brierfield and Montevallo.
It is virtually impossible to sum up the impact that Doc Mahan had on the people he encountered and the community he called home. As I sat at his memorial service, I looked around at the faces in the sanctuary, each one with their own memories and stories. His generosity and his passion for life was the common thread that bonded their friendship with Doc. He championed education, lobbied for the preservation of history, practiced dentistry for decades, served as volunteer fire chief, established a dental charity to help those in need of dental care, wrote his memoir, and played music with his friends.
I am sure this year’s GOBB Party (Good Ol’ Boys of Brierfield), the annual Christmas Eve male bonding gathering, will be different without Doc Mahan. The stories will abound around the fire pit with lots of laughter and toasts. We will raise a mason jar to celebrate our friend that has completed his journey here on earth. We will remember the lessons taught, the praise for jobs well done, and the scoldings of our shortcomings. Most of all we will remember to keep stepping along and carry with us the passions Doc loved; family, friends, music, and history. “Stepper” go rest high on the hill, there are no more to climb.