Atmore HOF honors three
By By Lisa Tindell
A teacher, a judge and an actor have left such a mark on the world that they will be forever immortalized in the Atmore Hall of Fame.
A ceremony held Saturday to induct the three newest members, two posthumously, to the Hall of Fame highlighted their accomplishments and service to the community.
Posthumous honor was given to Paul Smith (Birch) and Annie Ruth Whitten. Associate Justice Lyn Stuart was on hand to accept the honor.
Dr. Ulysses McBride honored Smith at the induction citing his screen and stage performances as having given Atmore a place on the map of the world.
Although Annie Ruth Whitten didn’t travel the world, her influence on people in the community will be forever remembered by those who’s lives she touched.
In details presented during her induction, Randy Nichols said Whitten was a larger than life icon for so many who knew her.
As Bob Jones spoke of the third inductee, Lyn Stuart, he remarked how the newest member of the HOF had been known as a role model among Atmore residents.
Stuart was on hand for the event and remarked how happy she is to be a product of the community.
During her speech, Stuart also expressed her pride in her hometown.
In biographical information presented during the evening, Paul Smith (Birch) was born in 1912 in Atmore and graduated from Escambia County High School in the early 1930s. In the days when cigarette commercials were common on television and printed material, Paul was the original “Marlboro Man.” He appeared in hundreds of roles in television, movies and on stage. Television programs Birch appeared in include Cannonball, Laramie, Gunsmoke, Ripcord, The Dick Powell Show, Have un Will Travel, The Fugitive, Bonanza, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry mason, Hawaiian Eye, Sea Hunt and The Virginian. His movie credits include, among others, The Raiders; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Man Who Shot liberty Valance, A Public Affair and Two Rode Together. Smith passed away May 24, 1969 at his home in Grenada.
Annie Ruth Whitten, who passed away in June, was born in 1911 in Greensboro. In 1929, she rode the train to Montgomery to attend Huntingdon College. That same year the stock market crashed forcing many college students to end their educational career. She graduated in 1933 with a double major in math and English education. Her first teaching job was in Dozier. She also taught at Castleberry High School, Milton, Fla., Evergreen and in Mobile before coming to Atmore where she taught at Escambia County High School from 1943 until her retirement in 1973. Although Mrs. Whitten passed away before inductees into the Hall of Fame could be announced, she was told that she was a nominee.
Lyn Stuart, who serves as associate justice with the Alabama Supreme Court, is a graduate of Escambia County High School. She graduated from Auburn University in 1977 having earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and education. She received her juris doctorate degree from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1980. She worked as an assistant attorney general for the state of Alabama under Charlie Graddick, a former attorney general. Among her many achievements, Stuart was elected as district judge in 1988 and was re-elected in 1994. Gov. Fob James appointed Stuart to the Circuit bench in January 1997. She is the daughter of Jack Lufkin and the late Jean Lufkin of Atmore.