"Prof" McCorvey dies at 87

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, November 10, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
Respected Atmore educator and community leader Woodrow McCorvey Sr. died Saturday in Bay Minette at the age of 87.
Lovingly called "Prof" by many in Atmore, McCorvey spent 36 years instilling a love of education in his students and garnering the respect of many, including the turbulent time of integration in Atmore.
"I just loved him," said Charlotte Boyle, who was a teacher at what became Escambia County Middle School from 1970 to 1972. The schools were integrated in 1970. "He was just always pleasant and supportive of the teachers," she said. "He was always immaculately dressed. I remember him as looking like an executive."
Before his tenure as principal of the middle school, McCorvey had already built an impressive resume for himself.
Born in Monroe County, he was the oldest of seven children and named after Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president.
He attended Selma University where he studied theology, and at the age of 27, he joined the U.S. Army where he served as an infantryman and ambulance driver while serving in the Pacific theater.
After the war, he returned to school, using the G.I. Bill to attend Alabama State where he earned a Master's degree in 1948.
McCorvey was involved in numerous civic organizations on both a local and state level, but he may well be best remembered in Atmore for his position as a school administrator.
In Grove Hill, as principal of the segregated black high school Wilson Hall, McCorvey put together and coached the school's first football team in 1948.
He came to Atmore as principal of Escambia County Training School in 1955.
"He was my principal for 16 years there," said Eldred Pritchett. "And we remained friends after he retired."
"I think he was a positive influence on the students and the faculty," Pritchett said. "Many students from the training school went on to advanced degrees in medicine, law and other fields."
"He put together an excellent faculty, and he oversaw a school that had as many as 1,700 students. He made a lot of difference in people's lives, and I admire him for the things he was able to do for our students," Pritchett said.
Pritchett worked with McCorvey from 1955 to 1970 when Escambia County schools were integrated and McCorvey went on to become the principal of Escambia County Middle School and Pritchett went to teach at Escambia County High School.
He retired in 1984, after more than 35 years in public education. After his retirement, he worked another 16 years for ATCO Manufacturing Products.
In 1996, the gymnasium at Escambia County Middle School was named after McCorvey.
In an interview with the Atmore Advance upon his retirement from the school system, this is what McCorvey had to say. "You have no guarantee of smooth sailing in anything you do, but I've come out way ahead in weighing the good times against the bad ones."
Surviving are his wife, Dorothy L. McCorvey; two sons, Woodrow (Woodie) McCorvey and Orlando McCorvey; two daughters, DeMarius Lynne McCorvey of Pensacola, Fla. and Rhonda Michelle McCorvey of Pascagoula, Miss.; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren; two sisters and three brothers.

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