Fame well earned

Published 12:02 am Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sarah Frances Thompson accepts the award for her grandfather Wilber “Buster” Joyner from Charolette Boyle at Friday night’s seventh annual Atmore Area Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Club on Alabama 21.

Sarah Frances Thompson fought tears Friday night as she thanked the community for recognizing her grandfather, Wilbur “Buster” Joyner, as one of the newest members of the Atmore Area Hall of Fame.

Joyner was the founder and namesake of the still-popular Buster’s Restaurant, and Thompson recalled the special relationship she had with her grandfather.

“I’m not the only person that felt that way,” she said of her strong feelings for Joyner. “He was appreciated by so many in the community.”

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Friday night marked the seventh time Atmore residents gathered at The Club for the Hall of Fame induction, which this year honored Joyner as well as Poarch Creek Band of Indians tribal council chairman Buford Rolin; the late William “Bill” Corman; and the late G.R. “Robin” Swift.

“I’m proud of the accomplishments and services we made for our people and this community,” Rolin said.

James Barnett, who presented the award to Rolin, said he fondly remembers their time together as classmates at Escambia County High School, long before Rolin served as tribal council chairman for PCI.

“He was on the student council in high school, which was a big deal for students in the 1950s,” Barnett said. “We all hope that he stays in a position with the tribe for many years to come to help the tribe and to help Atmore.”

Rolin, who spent around 20 years living in Pensacola, Fla., prior to moving back to the Atmore Area, said he feels blessed to have an impact on the place he grew up in.

“I’m really happy to be back home and be of service to my people and this community,” he said.

Accepting the award for Corman was his son Jim, who said he remembers moving to Atmore with his family after his father bought a small telephone company that has since blossomed into what is now known as Frontier Communications.

“I once asked Papa, ‘You moved around so much and have lived in so many places, where do you call home?’ Papa said ‘Jim, Atmore is the only place I have ever called home and the only place I ever will,’” Corman remembered.

Presenting the award to the family of Swift, Lucille Swift said his presence was felt through the many organizations he was involved in around Atmore, including First National Bank and Trust.

“Had you overdrawn your account, you had to go to his office,” she said with a laugh. “And I wasn’t about to go to his office.”

Atmore Area Hall of Fame Chairman Lou Vickery said he was proud to induct a hall of fame class full of such iconic names from the Atmore area.

“We call this the Atmore Area Hall of Fame because we induct members from not just Atmore, but the areas around it. From Walnut Hill to Robinsonville, some remarkable people have come from here,” Vickery said.