Six names added to Atmore Hall of Fame

Published 1:11 pm Monday, November 21, 2011

Mickey Cannon, center, accepts a plaque honoring his father Frank as a 2011 Atmore Area Hall of Fame inductee from committee member Floyd Adams

Six new faces joined the ranks of the Atmore Hall of Fame Saturday night as the committee welcomed its sixth class of inductees at a banquet held at The Club on Highway 21.

The 2011 class of honorees included Luverene “Toad” Wise Albert, Franklin McNeal Cannon, W.R. Holley, James P. Kizer, J.M. (Mac) Mays and Woodrow M. Parker.

Committee Chairman Lou Vickery said this year’s inductees come together to form an impressive class of new members who are very deserving of the hall of fame honor.

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“The Atmore Area Hall of Fame Committee is excited about these inductees,” Vickery said. “Each year, we will pay tribute to the achievements, perpetuate the memory and build upon the traditions of outstanding individuals who have brought honor and fame to the Atmore area.”

Vickery said the inductees were chosen for their achievements in a number of different areas.

“This array of talent has excelled in areas of business, medicine, public service, military, ministry and athletics,” he said. “They have cast a positive and enduring light on Atmore.”

Lucy King Swift introduced the night’s first honoree Saturday and presented daughters of Luvern “Toad” Wise Albert with her Hall of Fame plaque.

Floyd Adams introduced the night’s second inductee, Franklin McNeal Cannon and presented his plaque to his son Mickey.

The third inductee of the evening, W.R. Holley, was introduced by James Barnett.

Burt Kravis had the honor of introducing and presenting a plaque to the first of the night’s two living inductees, Lt. Col. James P. Kizer.

During a brief acceptance speech Kizer joked with Kravis, his former fellow pilot, as he mentioned his time in the military.

“The older we get the better we used to fly,” Kizer said laughing.

J.M. (Mac) Mays was honored by Lou Vickery during Saturday’s ceremony.

Dr. Ullysses McBride wrapped up the inductions with his introduction of the night’s second living recipient, Dr. Woodrow Parker. McBride also presented parker with his honorary plaque.

Parker said he was both thrilled and humbled by his induction into the hall of fame.

“There’s nothing more special than being honored by your home town,” Parker said. “I love myself some Atmore Alabama.”

Members of the Atmore Area Hall of Fame Committee include Floyd Adams, James Barnett, Charlotte Boyle, Mickey Cannon, Sherry Digmon, Larry Forney, Bob Jones, Billy C. Madison, Dr. Ullysses McBride, James “Peanut” McDonald, Randy Nichols, Lucy King Swift, Mavis Torrence and founder and committee chairman Lou Vickery.

The 2011 honorees included:

*Luverne “Toad” Wise Albert – became America’s first female football player. She played on the Escambia County High School team from 1939-1941. Though she is best known as a kicker, she was always a threat to throw a pass. Albert put Atmore on the map when she gained notoriety and was featured in Sports Illustrated, Life magazine, the New York Daily Mirror, the Atlanta Constitution and the Mobile Press. Representatives from Columbia Pictures and Acme News Pictures came to Atmore to interview Albert and photograph her in action.

During her two playing seasons, the ECHS team’s record was 17-1. By her second season it was reported Albert was making around 75 percent of her field goal attempts.

*Franklin McNeal Cannon – distinguished himself as a coach in a career that spanned 40 years.

He first coached at Moore Academy in Pine Apple, Ala. He was the head basketball and baseball coach and enjoyed winning seasons in each sport every year at the school.

Cannon later served as head basketball and baseball coach at the high school in Ariton, Ala.

In 1957 Cannon, his wife, and two sons moved to Atmore. While at Escambia County High School, he served as an assistant football coach and head basketball coach. ECHS had not had a basketball team for four years when Cannon was hired and revived the program.

Cannon left ECHS to become principal at J.U. Blacksher in Uriah. Although he was a successful administrator, Cannon returned to coaching at ECHS in 1964. He was also an instructor at Yancey State Junior College (now Faulkner State Community College) and later took a position as head basketball coach and athletic director at Jefferson Davis Community College, where he served until his retirement in 1990.

*W.R. Holley – served as mayor of Atmore in the 1930s.

Holley moved to Atmore in 1909 and bought Escambia Drug Store, which he owned for many years. He later sold the store, retired briefly, opened a second drug store and later sold it as well.

Holley eventually bought farm land and city property and erected a row of businesses and houses in the northern part of town that would come to be known as “Holley Block.”

In 1932 Holley was elected mayor of Atmore during a time when the city was suffering financially due to the Great Depression. While serving as mayor, Holley was able to pull Atmore out of financial crisis while also cleaning up the town’s waste systems and better organizing the city’s government.

During his eight year’s in office the city hall, post office and jail were built and many miles of sidewalk laid. Streets were also paved. Despite these projects being completed with city funds, city taxes were not increased.

The unusual development of Atmore during the depression years attracted statewide attention, and several leading newspapers paid tribute to Holley’s genius in his financial and administrative abilities. He was referred to as “The Savior of the City” due to his effective leadership during the lean years of the depression. It has been said of Holley that had it not been for him and his leadership in the 1930s, there might not be an Atmore today.

*James P. Kizer – grew up in Atmore and graduated from Escambia County High School. He went on to receive degrees from both Auburn University and Tory University.

Following college, Kizer attended the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, the U.S. Navy Flight School and the U.S. Marine Corps Staff and Command College. He received a number of military honors and awards including the Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal (32 awards); Vietnam Service Medal with eight stars; Navy Commendation Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal with three stars; Navy Unit Commendation Medal with five stars; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Combat Action Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; Pistol Expert badge; Rifle Expert badge.

After retiring from the military, Kizer served as a the commander of Atmore’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post and was a member of the American Legion, the Military order of World Wars, the Marine Corps Association, the Marine Corps Aviation Association and the USMC Combat Helicopter Association. He also served as president of the Atmore Rotary Club and the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the Atmore Country Club and chairman for the Escambia County Emergency Medical Services Committee, the Atmore Industrial Development Committee and the City of Atmore Personnel Board.

Kizer worked as the assistant to the mayor for administration, plans and personnel and worked as the branch manager of Regions Bank before fully retiring in 2000.

*J.M. (Mac) Mays – taught at McCullough School in 1934 and 1935. He served as principal at Flomaton Elementary from 1936 to 1938. In 1939 he received his Master’s degree from Auburn University and from 1940 until 1946 he served as principal and football coach and W.S. Neal High School in Brewton.

In 1946 Mays moved to Atmore and became active in the community as a member and leader at Atmore First United Methodist Church. Mays was also and member and leader of the Atmore Lions Club where he served as president.

Mays was also prominent in the business community. From 1946 until 1975 he owned and operated Atmore Office and School Supply and Northwest Fla. Office and School Supply in Ft. Walton Beach.

Mays was also involved in politics. From 1966 until 1970 he served as state legislator after receiving 69 percent of the vote. He actively pursued legislation to help Atmore and education and was responsible for incorporating Atmore’s industrial park.

In 1970 Mays became assistant principal at Escambia County Middle School and in 1971 taught at Escambia County High School.

Mays passed away on March 5, 1984. In 2005 the Alabama Legislature named a portion of Highway 21 J.M. “Mac” Mays Memorial Highway. That portion of roadway as since been renamed and a portion of Interstate 65 was renamed in memory of Mays.

*Woodrow M. Parker – achieved an impressive academic career after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in English from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa and his Master’s degree from the University of South Florida in Guidance and Counseling. Mays later earned a PhD in Counselor Education and Educational Administration from the University of Florida.

Parker served as a professor in the Counselor Education Department at UF for 19 years. He also served as a mental health counselor in the student health care center.

Aside from his career as an educator and counselor, Parker has authored, co-authored and contributed for a number of published works. He is also a lecturer and presenter at local, national and international events.

His long list of honors includes the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the University of Florida College of Education and the Lifetime Service Award to the counseling professional from the Florida Counseling Association.

In addition to his many awards, Parker was appointed to serve on a national task force for the promotion of multicultural counseling in 1997, the same year he was appointed to serve as historian for the Florida Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development, where he still serves today.

Parker has also completed the Boston Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon.