Six inducted into hall of fame

Published 7:09 pm Sunday, May 5, 2013

Eddie Tullis, left, is welcomed into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame by Mal McGhee Saturday night at Wind Creek.

Eddie Tullis, left, is welcomed into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame by Mal McGhee Saturday night at Wind Creek.

Six new names have been added to the Atmore Area Hall of Fame following Saturday’s eighth annual induction banquet.

Thomas Jernigan, Charles Madison, Ron Middleton, Greg Turberville, Eddie Tullis and Steve Jefferson were all welcomed into the hall of fame by Chairman Lou Vickery and special guests at Wind Creek over the weekend.

Although only two of the six men chosen for this year’s class were able to be present for the induction, family members and close friends were on hand representing all of the new hall of fame members.

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Kelly Turberville, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Greg Turberville, spoke for her husband, who is currently on military assignment in Afghanistan.

“My husband is so proud to be from Atmore,” she said. “If he were here tonight, he would say he is the product of his own personal heroes. The people who helped make Greg into the great man his today.”

Coach Ron Middleton, one of three inductees from the sports category, was also unable to attend Saturday’s induction ceremony due to a prior obligation with his new position as tight ends coach and assistant special teams coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a written statement, Middleton thanked the hall of fame committee for his selection.

“I can’t say being inducted into the Atmore Area Hall of Fame is a dream come true, because I never dreamed of such a feat,” Middleton wrote. “To be recognized by my hometown in this manner is truly an honor.”

Coach Steve Jefferson, the first Birmingham area basketball coach to win back-to-back state titles, was on hand Saturday night and also spoke of his love for Atmore and its people. Jefferson said it was a privilege to be recognized for a job he gave so much to over the years.

“It’s one thing to have the spirit to compete, but it is another thing to instill that competitive spirit in someone else,” Jefferson said. “If you want something, you have to make sacrifices and work hard. It was my job as a coach to get that out of them.”

The late Charles Madison, who had a prolific football career in both high school and college, was also honored for his athletic achievements. Madison’s brother, Carl, spoke about his life in sports.

“He was a baseball player too and a basketball player,” he said. “But he loved football. Coach Pat Dye, before he coached at Auburn, said Charlie was the meanest, toughest man he ever saw play football.”

Madison also spoke of their father’s love of sports and of how his brother also taught his children the games he loved to play.

“Charlie’s son, Scottie, has been inducted into the Vanderbilt hall of fame for baseball,” he said. “His daddy made him a player.”

Businessman Thomas Jernigan was also inducted posthumously during Saturday’s banquet. Hall of fame Chairman Lou Vickery spoke of Jernigan’s lasting influence on the state of Alabama.

“You have to look at all of the things this man started,” Vickery said. “He has had an amazing business career.”

Vickery said, while several companies Jernigan founded are still in existence, his charitable organizations are also continuing to make a difference in the lives of Alabama’s youth.

“His charities have given away millions,” he said. “The Thomas Jernigan Foundation still supplies scholarships for students at UAB.”

Saturday’s ceremony concluded inductions by welcoming Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Chairman Eddie Tullis into the hall of fame.

Tullis thanked the committee, but spent the majority of his time at the podium speaking about the future of the Atmore area.

“We have here tonight what I consider to be the leadership of this town,” Tullis said. “I stand here today because of the efforts of a lot of people. I have been blessed. But we at the tribe consider ourselves part of this community. I see a bright future for Atmore.”

Before adjourning this year’s ceremony, special recognition was given to the late James “Peanut” McDonald, a former hall of fame committee member who passed away earlier this year.

Mickey Cannon, a close friend of McDonld’s, said he was like a second father to him.

“At the age of eight you have a lot of heroes,” Cannon said. “Peanut was one of mine. He loved my daddy and my daddy loved him. And I loved him.”

Cannon said McDonald will be remembered for many things, including his deep love and devotion to his family and his long career as a referee and umpire for summer-league, high school and college baseball, basketball and football.