From atmore magazine

The Boys of the Summer of ’61: Where Are They Now?



   Even before Larry played catcher for the 1961All Stars, he  made time for Scouting. Along with John Wingard, he was presented the coveted rank of Eagle from their Scout Masters, Wesley Pruett and Buster Joyner. Like John, Larry was only 14 years old.

   At Escambia County High School, Larry distinguished himself as a class officer and Student Council representative. Senior year, the football team elected him Blue Devil co-captain. The student body chose him among the seven Most Handsome students.

   #FunFact: Larry’s classmates elected him their male Senior Class Favorite.

   After graduating from ECHS, Larry enlisted in the Air Force. His three years included a tour at Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas, where he worked and simultaneously earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Finance from McMurry College in Abilene. During a short tour in Guam, he finished a correspondence course through the University of Oklahoma at Norman Extension Service.

   With his military commitment completed, Larry was honorably discharged from the Air Force and moved to Norman. He enrolled as a full-time graduate student at the University of Oklahoma. Ultimately he was richly rewarded with a Master of Arts Degree in Economics. His career in investment management took him to firms from Hartford, Conn., to San Francisco, Calif. By 1976 he was employed in New York City with the Dreyfus Corporation. That autumn he met a Dreyfus colleague, a smart New Yorker named Linda. In mid-1977, Larry took a position with another firm. Linda and Larry married in Connecticut in December of 1978. After

being rehired by Dreyfus in the mid-1980s, Larry spent the next 11 years of his career with the Dreyfus Fund in New York City. Larry retired in 1997 as a Vice President and Portfolio Manager.

   The Troutmans, who have been married for 43 years, now reside in Raleigh, N.C. Their son and daughter-in-law live in Chicago. Ill.


   Buddy played outfield for Atmore’s 1961 All Stars who went to the Sr Little League World Series. After he finished eighth grade, Buddy and his mother moved to Fort Walton Beach, Fla. In ninth grade he played football at Pryor Junior High.

   The next year Chocktawhatchee High (then a 4-A football school) gained an athlete who would play three years of both football and baseball (pitcher). Buddy played only two seasons of basketball due to a gruesome leg break.

   After graduating from Chocktawhatchee High in 1966, Buddy enrolled at Troy State College as a Business major, but he also took speech and stage-craft classes. As a Senator at Large at Troy, he often had dealings with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. After Buddy graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, a confluence of events occurred during the next four years: He suspected being a retail executive manager wasn’t where his passion lay; he

started night classes at Jones Law Institute in Montgomery; he met “a cute little blonde” named Ann – and was smitten.

   Perhaps his destiny was set when the Secretary of the Alabama County Commissioners Association (ACCA) met Buddy and recognized the charismatic young man had all the qualifications and qualities to be the Association’s next Executive Director. So it

came to pass that O.H. “Buddy” Sharpless, III eventually became the ACCA’s Executive Director for the next 36 years as he spoke in Montgomery and Washington, DC as one voice for Alabama’s 67 counties.

   In August of this year, the ACCA’s state office building in Montgomery was officially named in Buddy’s honor. About this singular recognition, Buddy said, “God gave me the best job in the world. He chose me, directed, and guided me through the years. Without Him nothing would have been possible. Words cannot express the appreciation and honor I feel to receive such recognition. I am very humbled.”

   Buddy has been married to Ann, his blonde helpmate, for 48 years. They reside in Montgomery and have a son, a daughter, a grandson, and a granddaughter.  


   John pitched and played third base for the ’61 All Star team. His adolescent achievements shone far beyond the athletic field. At 14 he and (fellow All Star) Larry Troutman were presented the highest rank in Scouting, that of Eagle, at an award ceremony at Atmore’s First

Presbyterian Church. The rank of Eagle tests and measures one’s commitment and determination, traits that served John well, both on and off the field. At ECHS John pitched and played third base for three years for the Blue Devils. He also played three years on the basketball team, and was in the Latin and Science Clubs.

   #FunFact: When the parents of John’s classmate Frank Reynolds went out of town overnight, his mom left keys to her blue 1956 Olds 88 with a not-to-exceed mileage limit. Frank called his friend, John Wingard, and they were soon joy riding; exceeding the mileage limit; and then jacking up the car to run the odometer in reverse. Soon realizing that would take all night,

they took off on another joy ride in reverse and in the dark all over Atmore. Commitment and determination! John and Frank were cool before Ferris Bueller ever took a day off.

   After graduating from ECHS in 1964, John attended Auburn University, earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering. His next 41 years were spent in sales, installation, and design of material handling equipment, primarily in Alabama and NW Florida. He officially retired in 2009, but over the last two decades he has helped three private schools with handy work

and has enjoyed flipping a few houses.   

   John and Cindy, his creative wife of 30 years, live in Alabaster, Ala. John has four children plus four granddaughters and two grandsons.

   John Wingard’s sharp memory and his 1961 All Star memorabilia contributed greatly to “The Boys of Summer” article, which Bob Vale and I created, for the 2021 October issue of “atmore” magazine.

   Thanks, “Johnny Boy.” ~ BBL

Atmore native Bonnie Bartel Latino is a former columnist for Stars and Stripes in Europe, and an

award-winning novelist and journalist.