By SHERRY DIGMON
News Staff Writer
The Atmore Area Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held Saturday, April 28, with the committee adding six names to the list of outstanding citizens – Dr. Wil Baker, Robert Faircloth, Ann Gordon, Novy L. Hale, Rev. Isaac Holt, and Wayne Stacey.
Each inductee was allotted the opportunity to make a brief speech. Following are some of their comments.
Dr. Wil Baker – Dr. Baker graduated from Escambia County High School in 1953. When he was a young man, he heard a voice, and after a two-year struggle, he made a commitment to that voice – “Where He leads me, I will follow.” He went to college, joined the Marine Corps, became a bivocational minister, got his PhD, became a college professor, retired, came out of retirement and became involved in the development of a medical college in Dothan.
“It was the voice I heard as a teenager,” Dr. Baker said. “That voice has spoken to me to different [times]. I am grateful to God for that voice. In conclusion, I will say to God be the glory.”
Lisa Faircloth Busby for Robert Faircloth – Lisa Busby was emotional as she talked about her dad. “He was the rock of Gibraltar. You could count on him. He might fuss about it, but he would do it … He fed everybody … He was always there. He could always get it done … This is an honor.”
Ann Gordon – “I’m honored and I’m humbled. What more can I say? … Don and I agree that one of the best things that ever happened to us was to come back to Atmore … Pray for us as we continue on our journey … Ann sells Atmore because Ann loves Atmore!”
Doug Hale for Novy Lee Hale – Speaking of his dad, Doug Hale said, “He worked most of his life with the Department of Corrections … He went from field guard to dog warden. This was before two-way radios and cell phones. When he left [tracking an escapee], we never knew if he was coming back until he showed up.”
Novy L. Hale was promoted to deputy warden, then warden. He was known for his way with people and his fairness.
“He could spend 30 minutes with a horse, a dog, a man and come away with their trust and respect. He became a father figure to inmates, both black and white. They called him Cap’n Hale.”
Rev. Isaac Holt – Rev. Holt has received many awards, tributes and honors. Speaking of his Hall of Fame selection, he said, “This will always be my highest tribute.”
He was raised by two families in Atmore – the Holts and the Jeffersons.
Acknowledging Willie J. Grissett in the audience, Rev. Holt said, “I grew up in Liberty Baptist Church … My grandmother told me, ‘Why don’t you shine your shoes?'” And she would tell him to look at Mr. Grissett’s shoes.
“You could see the color of your eyes in his shoes!” Rev. Holt said.
Referring to his call to the ministry, he said, “If you look at me here, you see the son wrapped in the Father’s robe.”
Rev. Holt talked about growing up in Atmore, mentioning the Jitney Jungle and how, as a kid, he could pick up groceries his grandfather would pay for later.
“Remember going to the Strand Theater?” he asked. “We’d go up in the balcony and we wondered, ‘Why don’t the white people get to come up here and sit with us?’ I remember thinking, ‘I’m gonna change that one day.'”
In closing, Rev. Holt said, “There’s nothing that compares to being recognized where you came from.”
Wayne Stacey – “Thank you for this honor,” Stacey said. He and his wife Donna have both served as state commanders of the American Legion and Auxiliary, respectively.
“We have more than two million members, and Donna and I are one of only six couples who have been commanders in their state,” he said.
Stacey left Atmore in 1961.
“I always came back to Atmore when we could,” he said. “Growing up in Atmore was very special. We learned values. We had a close-knit family. I developed a work ethic that has stayed with me to this day. What a great place to grow up in.”
Members of the Hall of Fame Committee are Chairman Billy Madison, James Barnett, Charlotte Boyle, Larry Forney, Meg Jones, Anthony Marshall, Dr. Ullysses McBride, Mal McGhee, Lucy King Swift, Mavis Torrence.