HOF class named

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Atmore Hall of Fame committee released its inductees of the 2018 class recently.

The HOF banquet will be held on Sat., April 28, at The Club. All former are invited to attend the banquet.

The following are in the 2018 class of the Atmore Hall of Fame:

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• Willie Parker, athlete

• Earl Miller, athlete

• Stephanie Bryan, government

• Weldon Vickery, government

• Dale Ash, business

• Bill Farr, business

• Joan Helton Crawford, medical
Joan Helton Crawford

Crawford studied under legendary nurse educator Ida V. Moffett at Birmingham Baptist Hospital and graduated in 1956. She earned a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Alabama before working as a nurse in Atmore, her hometown.

She taught in Birmingham to teach at Birmingham Baptist, and was instrumental in setting up the nursing education program at Jefferson State Community College, now Coastal Alabama College in Atmore.

Her legacy is still felt at Samford University as a significant portion of proceeds from an IRA that she designated was directed to an existing family scholarship fund at Samford.

The fund now totals some $100,000.
Willie J. Parker

Parker served as a longtime associate professor and coach at Alabama State University.

He was a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida’s department of education.

Upon graduation, Parker was at the University of Cincinnati, and earned his master’s degree at Indiana University. He received his bachelor’s degree from ASU.

Parker retired from ASU, and served as the university’s associate professor of education and head football coach. Additionally, Parker served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama A&M University, and as an assistant coach at UF from 1978-1982. Other coaching stints included at UC, Albany State College and Lyons Industrial High School.

Through his work as a professor, Parker has written a book and several other publications.

He was presented the volunteer award at the Alabama Special Olympics in 2002, and the Spirit of the Special Olympics in 1999.

He was also inducted into the ISTAP Sports Hall of Fame of ASU in 2009.
Weldon Vickrey

Vickrey was born the second child of “Bunk” and Myrtle Vickrey in Huxford.

He graduated from Escambia County High School in 1954, and has two sons by his marrieage to Judy Stokes.

When Vickrey was 5 months old, he began walking, and since that time, he has never slowed down.

Vickrey played corncob baseball in “Barnyard Stadium,” according to Lou Vickery’s book, and at 15, he gained an opportunity to play baseball with the inmates at the Atmore Prison Farm. He played high school baseball for five years. Afterward, he played for an industrial league for one year.

He would’ve continued playing baseball, but he was called to active duty service in the U.S. National Guard.

After the National Guard, he worked at Container Corporation of America in Brewton, where he worked for 44 years. He never missed a day in 41 years.

While at Container, he spent 40 years coaching youth baseball, helping many young boys who might not have had a chance to play.

He also coached youth football.

In the 1970s, he drafted the first African American kids into the Little League program in Atmore. In 1983, the Atmore 14-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star team, with the help of African American kids, won the state championship.

Later, Vickrey was elected to serve as Escambia County Commissioner for the Atmore district. Throughout his 16 years in office, he never missed a meeting.

In 1989, Vickrey worked through the Alabama Legislature to have Atmore named the Purple Martin Capital of Alabama. After that, 28 state followed suit.

Vickrey continues to grow the birds and educate youth and adults in the importance of the Martins.
Stephanie Bryan

Bryan became the first female political leader elected to the position of Tribal Chairman and CEO of the Poarch Creek Indians in 2014.

While in this position, she is involved with the legislative aspect of the Tribe and oversees all Tribal operations, including Tribal Government, Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority (CIEDA) and PCI Gaming Authority. Previously, she served as the vice chair of the Tribal Council.

Bryan has been a lifelong member of the Poarch Community, and has been advocating for her Tribe on both a local and national level.

She has worked for the Tribe and in the insurance industry for some 20 years.

As a member of the council, Bryan advocated for extending health insurance to all Tribal Members and employees, and worked to expand educational opportunities for every Tribal member and first generation Indian descendant. She also helped ensure the opening of Poarch’s new health clinic and its assisted living facility.

On a national level, Bryan represents the Poarch community with her involvement in regulations affecting Indian gaming as well as legislation affecting the Tribe and Indian Country. She has worked with several legislative committees as well as multiple Native American organizations such as the National Indian Gaming Commission, National Indian Gaming Association and the United South and Easter Tribes.
Earl Miller

A longtime high school baseball coach, Miller, born in Atmore, coached at G.W. Long.

His record was 407-133, and made 14 playoff berths out of 16. He was the NFHS/NFCA South Section Baseball Coach of the Year; was named to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Class of 2003 Hall of Fame in 2003; and he Wiregrass Hall of Fame in 2007.

Miller won the WAC Conference Coach the Year award three times; was named the ABCA Coach of the Year six times; named the SCAC Coach of the Year six times; named the AHSADCA Coach of the Year 10 times; was named The Dothan Eagle’s Coach of the Year six times; won three Class 2A stat championships and seven Class 1A state championships; and six state titles in a row.

Miller graduated from Escambia County High School in 1971, and from Troy University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in biology.

He is married to Rita Vickery Miller; and they have three children, Drew (35) (Brandy), Wade (Hollye) (32) and Clay (31).

He is the son of the late Earl Miller Jr., and Patsy Miller.
Bill Farr

Farr, born in Knoxville, Tenn., quit school to join he U.S. Navy when he was 17 years old. He received a GED while in the Navy, and served four years aboard the U.S.S. Essex carrier during the Korean War.

He met and married his wife, Shirley Kinney, of Elberta, after being stationed at a Navy base in Foley. They were married for 46 years, and they had a daughter, Sandra Lee and a son, William E. (Billy).

In 1959, Farr was hired by Monsanto Textiles in Pensacola, Fla., and worked in the production and quality control department until he was promoted and transferred to the Greenville, S.C. management information center in 1962. He worked there until returning back to Alabama in 1970.

The Samperil’s, from Providence R.I., hired Farr to help establish a new manufacturing operation in the Old Ribbon Mill in Atmore. The business was named Samco Inc. He had responsibility for the plant’s entire operation.

After 18 years, Samco was sold to International Paper. He was then employed by IP until the operation moved in 1991.

Farr was active in the community of Atmore. He served two terms as president of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce; was the president of the Atmore Lions Club; state chairman on fundraising advisory committee for the Alabama Heart Association; chairman of the chamber’s medical service board; and served as chairman or in an advisory role for several other boards.

Farr was named the Atmore Citizen of the Year in 1980; awarded a patent development with IP in 1989; received several heart association fundraising awards; and other awards for his service to the community.
Dale Ash

Ash was born in Atmore to Hooper W. Matthews Jr. and Merle Wade Matthews.

After graduating from Escambia Academy as the valedictorian in 1977, Ash attended Auburn University. While at AU, Ash was active on campus and was the first from Atmore elected as the Panhellenic president, where she presided over 18 sororities, including her own, Delta Gamma. She was inducted into the Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership, Beta Alpha Psi Accounting honorary, Beta Gamma Sigma business honorary and Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honorary.

Ash earned her bachelor’s degree in 1981, and began her business career at First National Bank in Brewton (at present, Trustmark), where she worked for 12 years as cashier, controller and secretary to the board of directors. Additionally, she also taught at JDCC.

In February 1993, Ash and her siblings, Cindy Colville and Hooper Matthews III, purchased a 50 percent interest in Pepsi-Cola. She then became the first female elected to the board of directors of United Bank in 1993, and was later elected to the holding company of the bank.

Over the last 24 years, Ash has served in various capacities on the bank board as well as in various organizations throughout the state, city and county.

Ash was the second woman in the 99-year history of the Alabama Beverage Association to be elected as its president. She led Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper bottlers throughout the state in a grassroots effort to defeat a possible soft drink tax. She currently leads Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. in Atmore as vice president.

Ash received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, and continues to serve as a member of the Escambia County Child Advocacy Board and Atmore’s National Day or Prayer Committee.

She was also instrumental in the formation of the Atmore affiliate of the Community Foundation of South Alabama in order that money raised in Atmore could stay in Atmore.

Ash, now a local grant write, recently helped co-author a Delta Regional Authority grant, which helped to go toward the Pride of Atmore and the city’s development plan for a revitalization effort.

In 1998, Ash, Colville and Matthews purchased the remainder of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. from their father.

Ash is married to her husband, Alan, of 36 years, and they are the parents of two sons, Matt, an Auburn University graduate and doctor of physical therapy, and Alan, a Vanderbilt graduate, teacher and coach.