The 2023 Atmore Hall of Fame 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. Cash or check only.
Committee members are Billy Conn Madison, Charlotte Boyle, Larry Forney, Ann Gordon, Anthony Marshall, Dr. Ullysses McBride, Mal McGhee, Sherry Digmon.
Last week, Atmore News published bios for inductees James Barnett, Dean Bushnell, Mickey Cannon, and Rufus “Sam Jack” Cassity. Four more bios are published here, and the last four will be published next week.
August 5, 1942 – October 13, 2019
Stanley Childress graduated from Escambia County High School in 1960 and the University of Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1975. The years between high school and college were spent building an illustrious military career.
Mr. Childress enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961 and was trained as a dental assistant. In 1965, he applied for Army Helicopter School and trained as Helicopter Pilot, Combat Tactics, Instrument Flight.
During a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967, Mr. Childress flew the UH-1 for Brigade Officers as Command and Control for Troops in a fire fight and search missions. He also flew the OH-13 as a scout. He received a Purple Heart for wound received during this time.
In the late 60s, stationed at Fort Rucker, Mr. Childress flew as an Instructor Pilot teaching instrument flying. At this time, he received a direct commission to 1st lieutenant and was given command of the student company at Fort Rucker, meaning he was in command of all aviation students.
During another tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970, Mr. Childress flew the CH-47, moving heavy cargo – guns, ammo, and gun crew to the Fire base. He also hauled damaged aircraft back to a repair facility and transported troops to the field. At this time, he was promoted to Captain.
In the late 1970s, Mr. Childress served as Commander of the Fort Jackson Aviation Division, a post he held until he retired as Major in 1980.
His assignments included Sacramento Signal Depot, Sacramento. Calif.; Fort Riley, Kansas; Harbor Barracks, Orleans, France; Fort Walters, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Vietnam; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Mr. Childress received the following awards while in the military: Distinguished Flying Cross (two awards); Bronze Star (two); Army Commendation Medal W/V Device; Meritorious Service Medal (two); Air Medal W/V Device; Air Medal (one for every 25 hours combat time 75); Purple Heart; Vietnam Service Medal W/1 Silver Service Star. Mr. Childress logged 1,900 combat flight hours.
In the 1980s, he returned to Atmore and worked for United Bank and 1st State Bank and was a member of Unity Baptist Church.
In 1987, he moved to Byron, Georgia and worked as branch manager for Citizens Bank. He also started a transportation company hauling Frito Lay products all over the southeast. He sold the company in 2006 and moved to Tiger, Georgia, in the mountains. He’s a member of Liberty Baptist Church and served as Sunday School director. He’s also involved with Awanas.
Sara Murph Davis
Sara Murph Davis, a retired educator of 34 years, is a native of Atmore and has spent most of her adult life living in Atmore.
She is the wife of Don Davis, pastor of Atmore First Assembly Church. Their three children – Jared Davis, Joshua Davis and Sara Beth Davis McCartney – were also raised in Atmore.
Mrs. Davis’s career in education began at Escambia County High School when she received the English medal for the graduating class of 1967.
Her degrees include Associate of Arts, Jefferson Davis Community College (now Coastal Alabama Community College), 1969; Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Livingston University, 1971; Master of Arts in Education, University of South Alabama, 1973; Masters degree in Early Childhood Education, University of Alabama in Birmingham,1979; Masters degree in Administration, 1988; Masters Degree in Supervision, Auburn University in Montgomery, 1995.
Mrs. Davis began her teaching career in August 1971, at Rachel Patterson Elementary School in Atmore.
During the years 1973-1987, she taught in Talladega County schools and was selected as Teacher of the Year for the Talladega County school system.
Mrs. Davis held numerous positions in the Escambia County school system – classroom teacher, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor, Textbook Coordinator.
She developed and made school programs available that supported students in “seeking out” their gifts and passions for learning. Among them were the Jump Start program for five-year-olds; Accelerated Reader which focuses on improving a student’s reading skills and allows students to learn and exhibit reading skills at their own pace (also introduced to Escambia Academy in Canoe); Reading Assist program to guide classroom aides with a curriculum to work with struggling kindergarten and first-grade students (Mrs. Davis was asked to present this program at the Alabama State Department of Education’s in-service meeting so that other schools in the state might have access to the program); the first four-year-old program in Escambia County schools, as well as the first four-year-old program for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians; the county-wide spelling bee; the math bee; and the Adopt-A-School program.
Mrs. Davis’s heart for children is also evident in her church work as AFA Church Programs Director.
She personally directs a community-wide summer camp that serves ages 4 years to 12 years and a Vacation Bible School that is offered to the children in the community, ages 2 years through sixth grade, for 5 days, in June, every year.
Mrs. Davis also coordinates numerous events for the adult community annually as well as several community outreaches including July 4, Easter and Christmas programs.
She is the daughter of the late A.C. and Mattie Lou Murph.
James Rayford Gohagin
October 31, 1947 – May 13, 1969
U.S. Army SP5 James Rayford Gohagin was nominated (posthumously) to the Hall of Fame by his classmates – the Escambia County High School Class of 1966.
Sergeant Gohagin was raised on Butler Street and attended Huxford School in grades one through nine before attending ECHS.
Assigned to the US Army’s C Battery of the 2nd Division, 319th Artillery of the 101st Airborne Division, Sgt. Gohagin would be the first to say that he was only one of eight young men from Atmore whose lives were cut much too short in the jungles and mountains during the Vietnam War.
However, 1) Sgt. Gohagin was the only one who had completed his tour at his firebase on Dong Ap Bin or Hill 937, as the US military designated the location. The gruesome battles on Dong Ap Bin during the month of May of 1969 infamously became known in the media as the Battle of Hamburger Hill; and 2) Sgt Gohagin had also been asked by his superiors to extend for one additional month to train incoming replacements.
Before dawn on May 13,1969, multiple fragment wounds during enemy fire claimed Sgt. Gohagin’s life in Thua Thien Province, near South Vietnam’s border with Laos.
Sergeant Rayford Gohagin was awarded the National Defense Med and Marksman-Sharpshooter Medal. Posthumously, he was awarded The Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal (for heroism), two Bronze Stars (both with the V-Device for Valor), and several lesser medals.
Sgt. Gohagin was one of five sons born to (the late) “Rich” and Lucille Gohagin. Their first two sons, Howard and Buford, are also now deceased. He is survived by his brothers, Carlos and Milford, and a cousin, Dauphine.
Eight Atmore boys were killed in action in the Vietnam War – Sergeant Rayford Gohagin was the last.
Willie J. Grissett
Willie James Grissett served the Escambia County school system as a teacher, administrator, and as a member of the Board of Education.
An Atmore native, Mr. Grissett earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Knoxville College and a Masters of Arts Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Alabama.
In 1955, he began work in the Escambia County school system as a music teacher and director of the choral program at Escambia County Training School (ECTS). He served as teacher for 13 years before being appointed elementary school principal of grades one through six at ECTS.
In 1970, when a federal court ordered ECTS to be restructured and designated as Escambia County Middle School, Mr. Grissett continued to serve as principal of fifth through eighth grades until his retirement in 1991.
Mr. Grissett was an educator and administrator for 40 years.
He served on the Escambia County Board of Education from 1996 to 2020, as member, vice chairman and chairman. He well represented the school system on the state level in the Alabama Association of School Boards, earning several awards including All State School Board recognition.
As a school board member, Mr. Grissett initiated and/or was instrumental in numerous projects: construction of new replacement schools for Escambia County Middle and W.S. Neal Middle; a new gym at Flomaton High School; a new library at Pollard McCall Jr. High School; classroom additions at W.S. Neal Elementary and Huxford Elementary; HVAC renovations at W.S. Neal Elementary, Flomaton High and Escambia County High; auditorium renovation at Flomaton High and Escambia County High; and a new W.S. Neal High School.
In addition to serving in education, Mr. Grissett has been a community servant – City Planner and Manager, member and chairman of the Atmore City Planning Board; member of the Alabama Democratic Party and the Escambia County Democratic Executive Committee; lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., in which he holds or has held positions from local to international level; Minister of Music for Gaines Chapel A.M.E. Church; Deacon and Minister of Music for Liberty Missionary Baptist Church; general Music Director and organizer of the Atmore Area Community Male Chorus.
Mr. Grissett is the fourth son of the late Calvin Sr. and Dannie Knight Grissett. He and his wife, Glender Wilson Grissett, have one son, Deri K. Grissett, and five daughters, Frasquita Grissett, Johannice Cox, Zina Myers, Tchetha Grissett and Weida Fuller.