Longtime ECHS coach’s life, legacy continues to live on

Published 6:07 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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Rep. Alan Baker read House Resolution 55 during the Atmore City Council meeting on Monday, honoring the late Coach Cornell Torrence

Longtime Escambia County High School coach Cornell Torrence’s life and legacy will continue to be celebrated.

Rep. Alan Baker on Aug. 14 at the Atmore City Council meeting presented the late Torrence’s wife, Mavis, an Alabama State House Resolution (55), a certificate from Gov. Kay Ivey and the state flag that flew at the capitol in his honor.

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Baker read the bill, which he said has been recorded in the chamber’s journal; and read the certificate from Ivey.

Torrence was a native of Lee County and a 1956 graduate of Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. His only job was teaching in the Escambia County (Ala.) schools, where he taught from 1956-1995. He was a physical education teacher and coached football and basketball at Escambia County Training School from 1956-1970. Torrence also taught drivers education and coached football and basketball at Escambia County High School from 1970-1995.

During this time, he compiled 545 wins. He eventually became head basketball coach at ECHS. Because of his legacy of service and excellence, the school gymnasium was renamed Cornell Torrence Gymnasium on Feb. 12, 2015.

While matriculating at ASU, he met and married the love of his life, Mavis Banks, on Aug. 9, 1954. He also pledged Phi Beta Sigma fraternity while attending Alabama State University. He served in the U.S. Army from May 1949 until September 1952 (honorably discharged).

Torrence dedicated his life to helping others with dedicated service in the community. For 45 years, he was a dedicated lifeguard at the Houston Avery Park Summer Youth Program. Later he became director of the Houston Avery Park.

Torrence was a founding member of the Progressive Civic and Recreational Club Inc. (PCRC) of Atmore. The PCRC served the less fortunate in the community by providing food and sponsoring youth sports programs to keep children engaged. He served as councilman for District 2 for eight years on the Atmore City Council.

He was a faithful member of Gaines Chapel A.M.E. Church since 1956, where he served as a Steward until his health failed. Torrence passed away on March 20, 2023, at his residence surrounded by his loving family and dedicated caregivers.

Family members, members of the Progressive Civic Club, which he was a founding member, and other loved ones were present for the city council meeting.

In other business, the council:

  • adopted Resolution 2023-13 to purchase a weather siren system. Mayor Jim Staff said the siren will be located at the center of the city right by the Sails Center;
  • approved an ABC license transfer from Chevron Diamond 22 to Atmore Convenience LLC;
  • approved a the board of zoning adjustments appointments of David Dobson to a three-year term, and Will Hendrix as an alternate;
  • approved a library board term renewal for Anthony Marshall;
  • approved the VFW Auxiliary’s Stuffed Animal Drive to be held on Sept. 16, 2023, at Heritage Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The collected small to medium-sized stuffed animals will be then donated to first responders in Atmore and Poarch to be presented to children on domestic violence calls or calls with children involved; and,
  • Staff read a Student Attendance Awareness Proclamation for the 2023-24 school year.