DETROIT (WXYZ) — Ask anyone who has ever walked the halls of Spain Elementary and middle school in Detroit, and there’s one person who comes to mind.
“He was more of an angel than a teacher,” said former Assistant Principal Erica Rolack. “Absolutely legendary.”
That angel to generations of students is Mr. Norbert Kidd, a lifelong Detroiter who shaped thousands of young lives going back to 1963.
“If Jesus was a perfect man, Mr. Kidd had to be the next,” said former student and coworker Andre Harlan. “He just always tried to find right in people. He didn’t have a negative bone in his body.”
Harlan eventually went on to follow Mr. Kidd's footsteps, becoming a teacher at Spain alongside Mr. Kidd. Harlan says Mr. Kidd easily stood out in the school, but not for the reason some might think.
“When you saw Mr. Kidd, color didn’t come across to you that he was a white man. He was just a man," Harlan said. "He was a man after God’s own heart.”
Mr. Kidd stood out to students because every student stood out to him. He spent time with everyone, the straight-A students to the troublemakers.
“Sometimes people would push the bad children away but he wouldn’t," said former coworker Victoria Miller. "He would start working with them because if you work and spend time with them and give them the attention they need and teach them the skills, then they wouldn’t act out.”
Mr. Kidd also spent time with kids outside the classroom in nearby neighborhoods, like the Brewster projects across the street.
It was there where he met and helped other young kids like Detwan Hall.
“He was always uplifting,” Hall said. “I know Mr. Kidd from being around the community and the Brewster Project townhouses, and I kind of met him through there... He was there for a lot of us at our down and our up times.”
Hall never had Mr. Kidd in the classroom, but Mr. Kidd still treated him like his student. Last week, roughly 20 years after the two first met, Mr. Kidd was in the hospital and Hall was by his side.
“A big impact, we never had nobody like it," Hall said. "Mr. Kidd is the greatest, and there will never be nobody like him.”
A few days after that visit, Mr. Kidd passed away. Immediately, the tributes came pouring in.
"Angels are smiling down right now because they got another angel up there," Harlan said. "Heaven is wonderful now with him up there.”
“Thousands. He’s affected thousands,” said former coworker Lakia Wilson- Lumpkins. "He wasn’t just their teacher, he was their family member.”
After nearly 50 years of teaching, Mr. Kidd’s most important lesson wasn’t what he taught in the classroom, it was what he taught everyday of his life. To always show love to others, no matter what.
“This school will never ever forget Mr Norbert Kidd," said former principal Ronald Alexander. "We love Mr. Kidd. We’ll love him forever.”
“He was just a loving caring person," Miller said. "I followed his lead. I learned to just care and love.”
There will be a memorial service for Mr. Kidd at the field here behind Spain Middle School on Thursday, July 1st at 7 p.m.
He was also very involved at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit. They will be holding a memorial mass on July 17 at 10 a.m.