Robert Courtney, preacher for the West End church in Clanton, Ala., drowned Monday in a work accident at Mitchell Dam.

Robert, 52, was a 35-year employee of Alabama Power who had worked 20 years at Mitchell Dam, according to The Clanton Advertiser. The newspaper said he was a hydro journeyman.

He lived in Verbena and is survived by his wife Retha, their children and other family members.

Reed Brown, a friend of Robert’s wrote in an email today, “He was a good friend, a dear brother and fellow preacher of the gospel. This man loved the lost and the saints. He never missed attending a gospel meeting at any congregation, he was always a great encouragement to me, a young man studying to become a preacher. I have always looked up to this brother.”

Reed mentioned Robert ministered with the West End congregation for 17 years.

One visitor on the Clanton Advertiser website wrote, “This is truly one of the saddest days in my life. Bro. Courtney baptized me when I was 15 and continued being a mentor and someone that I looked up to throughout my life. He was there for my family through some tough times and never once hesitated when called upon. He was the minister at my wedding and friend when it seemed I was alone. I can truly say that Bro. Courtney practiced what he preached! I always look forward to coming back home and attending services at the church where I was taught to be a man.”

Mitchell Dam, located on the Coosa River between Chilton and Coosa counties, has an electric generating plan.