Civic leader Wise passes
Published 4:51 pm Monday, March 15, 2004
Arthur McLean Editor
Atmore lost one of its local civic leaders last Sunday when Ulay K. Wise passed away.
Wise was 86, and a vibrant, honored member of the Atmore community.
In 1989, he was honored as Atmore's Outstanding Citizen, the highest award given to a an Atmore resident.
"I've never seen Ulay without his smile," said then Chamber president Brad Price when honoring Wise. "I've never seen Ulay say no. And when he takes on a task, he puts everything into it."
Born in McCullough, Wise moved to Atmore in 1979, according to Atmore Advance records. Once he called Atmore his home, Wise threw himself into the task of making the town a better place to live.
Wise was involved in many civic groups around the Atmore area. But he is perhaps best known for his work in beautifying Atmore.
It started as a challenge from former Mayor Patricia McKenzie.
"I was adamant I was not going to retire and just do nothing," Wise told the Atmore Advance in a 1989 interview. "I accepted the challenge and I've been busy ever since."
Thanks in large part to Wise's efforts, Atmore became a tree city in 1987, and local leaders have worked to help the city maintain that status ever since.
"Nothing is more beautiful than plants," Wise said. "And they help the environment. I've always enjoyed working with plants."
Susie Coker was Wise's neighbor for more than 26 years. "He was a good neighbor. If you had any trouble, you could call on him, and he'd always be there," she said. "He always had a wonderful garden, and whatever he had, he'd share it."
"There are just so many things you can say about him, and I'm sure everyone in town says the same thing," Coker said.
In addition to his beautification work, Wise was a Member of Rotary Club , Board of Directors of Turtle Point, Member of Joy Riders and McCullough Friendship Club, Deacon of First Baptist Church of Atmore, member of George Petrie Society and member of Auburn Alumni citizen of the year.
He is survived by five sisters, Arkie Coker of Huxford, Mary Emma Elmore of Tallahassee, Leo and Gordon Atkeison of Atmore, Eleanor Purser of St. Petersburg, Fla. and Anna Ruth Vickery of Atmore.