Atmore Hall of Fame resumes in May

News Publisher

The Atmore Area Hall of Fame was begun in 2005 to recognize Atmoreans (those who were born in the Atmore area or attended school in Atmore) and transplants who have made outstanding contributions in the following areas:
Business / Medical
Government / Military
Education / Theatrical / Ministry
Athletes / Coaches
From 2006 until 2019, an annual induction ceremony was held to honor those nominated by the public and selected by the Hall of Fame Committee.
Of course, Covid put a halt to the process in 2020, but the current committee, chaired by Billy Conn Madison, is bringing the Hall of Fame back next month with the induction of 12 individuals, five living and seven deceased.
Inductees are James Barnett (dec.), Dean Bushnell, Mickey Cannon (dec.), Rufus “Sam Jack” Cassity (dec.), Stanley Childress (dec.), Sara Davis, Rayford Gohagin (dec.), Willie J. Grissett, Lori Stinson, Bill Vickery, John Watkins (dec.), and Douglas Webb (dec.).
The induction ceremony will be held Saturday, May 6, 6 p.m., at The Club on Highway 21. A meet-and-greet time will be held from 5:30 to 6, but everyone is asked to be seated by 6.
Tickets for the ceremony (which includes the catered meal) are $25 each. You must have a ticket to attend. Please note – No one without a ticket will be admitted.
Tickets are available from any committee member and at the Atmore News office, 128 S. Main Street. Tickets will be available through Wednesday, May 3.
Committee members are Billy Conn Madison, Charlotte Boyle, Larry Forney, Ann Gordon, Anthony Marshall, Dr. Ullysses McBride, Mal McGhee, Sherry Digmon.
Following are four inductees’ bios. More follow in the coming weeks.

James Edward Barnett

December 8, 1942 – April 27, 2021

High school athlete, businessman, friend to education and athletics – James Barnett is remembered as a dedicated member of the community.
As part of the Escambia County High School Class of 1960, Mr. Barnett was in the first class to graduate from the newly built school on South Presley Street.
While in high school, Mr. Barnett participated in many school activities, clubs, and sports. As a senior football player, he was named to the Alabama All State Football team.
After graduation, he attended Troy University and the University of South Alabama in Mobile. He later transferred to the University of West Florida in Pensacola and graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree.
While employed with Monsanto in Pensacola, Mr. Barnett and his family were transferred to the corporate office in South Carolina. But traveling and the prospect of more traveling and possibly another transfer caused him to reconsider his career.
He returned to Atmore and worked with his brother, Carl, at Atmore Office and School Supply and Northwest Florida Office and School Supply in Fort Walton, Florida. In 1986, Mr. Barnett purchased Atmore Office and School Supply, and it was during these years that he became a friendly, familiar face at most all schools in Southwest Alabama and a number of schools in Mississippi. “Mr. James” was the person to call when your school needed athletic equipment, typewriters, and office supplies for your school or business. Locally, he outfitted many little leaguers, t-ball players, football players, baseball players, and basketball players.
In 1994, Mr. Barnett closed the doors to Atmore Office and School Supply, allowing him to focus on his employment with the Xerox Corporation, which enabled him to still maintain his connections with schools and businesses he had built over the years.
The Atmore Hall of Fame was Mr. Barnett’s passion up to his death. He dedicated countless hours each year to the nomination process, selection process, through to the naming of the newly selected inductees.
He and his high school sweetheart, Beverly T. Barnett, shared 59 years of marriage. They have four children – the late Bradley Scott Barnett, James Randal Barnett, Shannon B. Dransfield, and Jason Robert Barnett. They also have six grandchildren.
A piece of downtown Atmore trivia: At one time James Barnett, at 109 North Main Street, and his brother, Kenneth Barnett, at Escambia Drug Store at 108 South Main Street, were the longest tenants on Main Street.

Colonel Dean Bushnell

Colonel (Ret.) Dean Bushnell is a highly decorated member of the US military – he is a Soldier’s Soldier.
Col. Bushnell is an Atmore native and 1982 graduate of Escambia County High School.
He served as an ambassador for Atmore, the state of Alabama, and the nation while serving over 32 years of continuous active-duty service in the US Army. He initially served as an enlisted soldier and noncommissioned officer before earning his commission through the US Army Officer Candidate School and advanced to the rank of Colonel.
Col. Bushnell’s military operations and deployments include Honduras; El Salvador; Nicaragua; a pawn in the Iran-Contra Scandal; Operation Desert Shield; Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti; Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait; Somalia; Sudan; and multiple combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Col. Bushnell’s final combat tour was Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan fiercely fighting Al Qaeda, Taliban, and the Haqqani Network. Additionally, he served at several postings inside the United States. In addition to his extensive service in the Middle East, his overseas duties included parts of Asia, all across Africa, Australia, Central and South America, and Europe.
Col. Bushnell’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with one silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal for Valor and silver oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two service stars, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Expeditionary and Service Medals, Humanitarian Service Medal, NATO Medal, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, and multiple foreign parachutist wings. He is a 2013 inductee into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.
While serving on active duty, Col. Bushnell furthered his education earning his undergraduate and three graduate degrees. His military education includes Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.
Though retired from active-duty military service, Col. Bushnell continues his service as a Department of the Army civilian. He leads an organization providing strategic defense analysis for senior Army officials.
He and his wife of 35 years, Kathy, have one daughter and two grandchildren. They reside in Kansas City, Missouri.
Col. Bushnell is the son of Dean and Jessie Bushnell of Atmore.

Mickey Cannon

July 24, 1948 – May 8, 2021

The name Cannon has been synonymous in Atmore with excellence in coaching since 1957 when Mickey Cannon’s parents moved their family to Atmore when (the late) Frank Cannon accepted a coaching/teaching position at Escambia County High School.
Frank Cannon continued to coach at ECHS for several decades. He was posthumously inducted into the Atmore Hall of Fame in 2011.
Now, Frank Cannon’s firstborn – the late Mickey Cannon – joins the list of Atmore Area Hall of Fame inductees.
Mickey Cannon coached for 45 years winning five state championships. Amazingly, he had only one losing season in his coaching career.
A member of the ECHS Class of 1966, Coach Cannon played quarterback for the Blue Devils. He was also the only student athlete who lettered in football, baseball, basketball, and track his senior year.
After high school, Coach Cannon played basketball at Jefferson Davis Community College (now Coastal Alabama Community College) in Brewton. He played college baseball at Livingston University, which is now West Alabama University.
Coach Cannon received his Bachelor of Science degree at Livingston University. He earned a Master of Science at Troy University. He received his counseling certification from the University of South Alabama in Mobile.
Teams Coach Cannon coached won baseball state championships in 1971 at Ernest Ward High in Walnut Hill, Fla., and in 1989 Atmore’s ECHS. He was named High School Baseball Coach of the Year in Florida and Alabama.
Coach Cannon was also an assistant coach on two state championship football teams: In 1983 at Atmore’s ECHS with Head Coach Buck Powell and in 2014 at Escambia Academy in Canoe with Head Coach Hugh Fountain.
Additionally, Coach Cannon served as Athletic Director for Jeff Davis Jr. College from 1991 to 1996.
He and his wife, Lee Dickinson Cannon, have a daughter, Melissa, and a son, Michael, and five grandchildren.

Rufus “Sam Jack” Cassity

August 1, 1934 – May 11, 1990

Rufus “Sam Jack” Cassity was born in Clarke County, Alabama, but grew up on School Street in Atmore.
Mr. Cassity graduated from Escambia County High School in 1953, where he was a standout athlete excelling in football as a running back and as a defensive safety. He also played baseball and basketball for the ECHS Blue Devils.
He attended The University of Alabama on a football scholarship. He started on Alabama’s Freshman Football Team as a running back. He also played on the Varsity Football Team as a freshman. At that time, it was quite unusual for a freshman to earn a position on a varsity team. Mr. Cassity played on the Crimson Tide’s Varsity Football Team for three years (1953 through 1955) in the position he earned as a freshman – running back.
Additionally, and somewhat rare for the time, he lettered in two sports at Alabama in that he was also a standout member of the Crimson Tide’s Track Team as a sprinter. In 1954, The University of Alabama awarded Mr. Cassity the honor of being named The Best All-Around Athlete. He also played for The University of Alabama in the 1954 Cotton Bowl against Rice University. He never missed watching an Alabama Crimson Tide football game throughout his life.
Mr. Cassity served in the U.S. Army Reserves and received an Honorable Discharge for completion of his term in October 1962.
He married Gloria Sizgorich in 1955, and they had three children – Phyllis, Tony, and Fawn.