Five inducted into Hall
Published 4:39 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008
By By MaryClaire Foster
Atmore would not be the town it is today if it were not for the contributions made by the five men who were recognized Saturday night and inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame at a banquet held at the YMCA.
Claude Kelley, Joseph Latham, George Robinson Swift Sr., Dr. J.B. Thomas and George Mosby were the five inductees recognized as having made “outstanding contributions” to the Atmore area.
All inductees to the Hall of Fame are either born in Atmore or lived in Atmore at some point in their lives. None of this year’s inductees were born in Atmore, but all have or do live here, and according to the Atmore Hall of Fame Committee have “cast a positive and enduring light on Atmore.”
Committee Chairman and Founder Lou Vickery said the inductees deserved to be honored because of what their many achievements they have done for Atmore.
Inductees have made contributions into the fields of business, medicine, public service, military, ministry and athletics.
Each inductee was introduced by a committee member, and because all but George Mosby were inducted posthumously, the awards were accepted on by family members.
Committee member Lucy King Swift said the evening was a success and reiterated the importance of honoring those who have made positive contributions to the city.
“We were well pleased,” she said. “We need to recognize these people because they’ve done so much for Atmore.”
Kelley was a dedicated public servant who helped to create and organize the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and became president. While he was president, he helped to bring prosperity to Atmore’s industrial industry by bringing a Vanity Fair Mills sewing plant to Atmore. For this contribution, he received his first recognition from the city in the form of the first Atmore Citizenship Award. He also served as the National Wildlife Federation from 1950- 1961 and became the commissioner for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1959. During this time, he helped to bring Atmore State Technical College to fruition and get Highway 21 made into four lanes to Interstate 65.
Kelley was also the first recipient of the award of honor presented by the Natural Resource Council of America and in 1986 the Alabama Department of Conservation and State Legislature renamed Little River State Park Claude D. Kelley State Park.
Joseph H. Latham Sr. excelled in the field of athletics playing football from his high school days in Maplesville through college at the University of Southern Mississippi until playing professionally in Los Angeles and Detroit.
Following his own career as an athlete, Latham continued his dedication to sports by coaching. Latham coached all sports ,but preferred football and baseball. Latham coached all over the South, but spent the bulk of his coaching career at Ernest Ward High School. In 1981, Ernest Ward rewarded Latham for his long tenure and renamed their high school stadium for him. He was named coach of the year for the Escambia River Conference four different times from 1961 to 1971. Latham has been inducted to two other halls of fame. In 1965, he was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi’s and was also inducted into the hall of fame of his high school in Maplesville.
Mosby is one of many who have been transplanted to the Atmore area. Mosby was born in Versailles, Ky. and coached football and basketball in Escambia County for 33 years. In a12-year period, as head football coach, Mosby’s teams won 112 games and lost 50 and as a head basketball coach his teams won 110 games and lost 40. He was selected as coach of the year four times
Mosby continues to work with children in sports every summer at Houston Avery Park.
Swift was recognized for his contributions in the fields of business and politics. Swift was born in Baldwin County in 1887. He was president of Swift-Hunter Lumber Company and an active politician serving in the Alabama House of Representatives and Alabama Senate and briefly served in the U.S. Senate filling a vacancy when the functioning senator died. Swift also served as the State of Alabama Highway Director from 1943-1946.
Thomas was a medical doctor born in Selma. He moved to Atmore in 1951 and served as the team doctor for Escambia County High School for 30 years. During that time, he helped to get Herbert Barnes Stadium built. Over the span of his career as a doctor, Thomas delivered around 3,000 babies.
The Hall of Fame Committee also recognized chairman Lou Vickery for his efforts in founding the hall of fame.
The committee will begin taking nominations for the fourth annual hall of fame in January and will announce selections in May or June.