Everyone in Alabama, it seems, has a Milton McGregor story.
The casino owner and longtime political kingmaker passed away on Saturday, and since that time news outlets have written and aired countless stories from elected officials and various other politicos about McGregor.
A visitation for McGregor will be held Wednesday at noon at Frazer Memorial Church in Montgomery, with a Celebration of Life service to follow at 2, and it promises to be packed.
But the stories McGregor would likely be most proud of are the ones that have poured into the comments sections under news stories about his death or on Facebook pages. The stories from just regular folks who once ran into McGregor at an event or saw him at the ballfield or worked for him or waited on him.
McGregor’s money and political exploits, along with his generosity, made him one of the most well known men in the state, but it was his friendly, warm demeanor extended the same to governors as it was to custodians that made him popular.
“I waited on him at (now closed) Sinclair’s (Restaurant) in Cloverdale,” Jennifer Hargrove wrote about McGregor in a Facebook comment. “He treated me with so much more kindness and respect than most people far below his station. How people treat wait staff is usually a good indication of what type of people they are and he was a class act.”
On a memorial page set up by the McGregor family, numerous personal messages to the family talk of McGregor’s faith — a side that he mostly kept private — and his devotion to his wife, Pat.
“Milton McGregor was my friend, prayer warrior, and “father figure,” wrote Danny Wallace, a pastor who operates Danny Wallace Ministries in Georgia. “To say that those who knew Milton best will miss him is an understatement. I loved him, and in his presence, I KNEW that I too, was loved. If you are encouraged by our ministry, thank Milton Mcgregor, and his darling wife, Pat. If you write me from countries that most people have never heard of, and few can spell – thank Milton McGregor, and his sweet, Pat.”
But the most overwhelming group of messages have come from those who were mere acquaintances of McGregor — his former employees, those he met at church or at a ball game and people he bumped into around town.
Those people talked of his kindness, his sense of humor and his upbeat personality.
“He was always so kind and friendly to me,” wrote Lenore Vickery, “whether I saw him at church or at the local RiteAid.”
One of McGregor’s attorneys, Charlana Skaggs, summed it up.
“There’s a Maya Angelou quote about people never forgetting how you made them feel,” she wrote. “One of (McGregor’s) greatest gifts was making everyone he came across feel important and appreciated.”