Jason Edward Echols, who was killed in a single-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on Interstate 65, is remembered as a devoted family man who was an integral part of his church and the management team at the Alabama Education Association.
Echols, 45, of Decatur, was killed when the vehicle he was driving left the roadway on I-65 southbound in Cullman County and overturned, according to state troopers. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release from troopers. State troopers continue to investigate.
Brenda Pike, AEA’s executive director, said Echols started the job as the organization’s business manager at its Montgomery headquarters last June, becoming part of the management staff and Pike’s “right-hand guy on the financial side of the operation.
“He was really good at his job and he will be missed in our association,” Pike said. “He was loved by the staff.”
After coming to work at AEA nearly a year ago, “he fit in right away,” she said.
Echols commuted from Decatur to Montgomery each week, spending the weekends with his family, Pike said, and was heading to Montgomery on Tuesday morning.
“You could tell he was a Christian man, a family man,” she said. “He loved his church and his community.”
Echols, a lifelong Decatur resident, was a Cornerstone Christian Academy graduate, received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and later earned an MBA. He worked at Boeing in Huntsville for 13 years. At the AEA, he provided oversight for finance operations and membership database functions.
He is survived by his wife, Melody Waldrop Echols; a daughter, Reagan; and son, Dawson.
“He was an all-around stellar individual,” said Wendy Lang, AEA’s UniServ director for District 5. “When you have people so stellar with your organization, it makes your organization stand out.”
Echols “radiated Christianity,” Lang said. “He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk.”
David Burdeshaw, the minister of music at Westmeade Baptist Church, said Echols sang with the Westmeade Choir and Westmeade Singers. He was a featured soloist in a choir CD.
A gifted singer, Echols would also fill in for Burdeshaw if he was away, he said.
“He was one of our go-to guys,” Burdeshaw said.
Echols had also been a Sunday School teacher over the years for various age groups, and he and his wife were preparing to be teachers for the college class, Burdeshaw said.
“He was part of the entire life of our church,” Burdeshaw said. “That’s not an exaggeration.”