Hall of Fame Inductions
April 25, 2011
Murphy High School Cafeteria
Mike McNair stated that the Lifetime Service Award was established to honor persons who have been exemplary in service to Murphy High School. It was begun in 2005 and presented to Lolette Tanner, in 2007 to Frances Sibley, in 2008 to Anne Inge, and now 2011 to Linda Sparkman.
Linda is one of those rare people who worked at every level possible in the career of an educator. The fact that she did it all at one school makes her very special. A native of Decatur, Alabama, she graduated with a B.S from Alabama College and in 1960 began her career at Murphy High School in the P.E. Department. She is most remembered by her snazzy, white, cat-eyed glasses she sported at the time. She jumped into her position and got involved in the Tennis and Booster Clubs. Soon she included volleyball, cheerleaders, and student government sponsor and while doing all these things, she was still able to complete her certificate in administration. In the fall of 1975, Linda was named an interim principal by Mr. C. D. Anderson and worked with scheduling, girls' discipline and school activities. A year later, she was named as an assistant principal and retained the same duties. She served as an Assistant Principal under C. D. Anderson until he retired in the spring of 1979 and Paul Sousa became principal of Murphy. Linda continued to work as Assistant Principal until Sousa left Murphy in 1987. In the fall of 1987, Miss Sparkman became principal of Murphy High School.
During her tenure as principal, she had the vision and drive to establish the International Baccalaureate program, just the second school in Alabama to do so. She remained as principal through 1995, when she took a job with the Title I program. However, after leaving Murphy, she regularly came to Murphy football games to sit with her former colleagues and still does. It is unusual to find someone who stayed at the same workplace for so long. Her love for Murphy and the school's love for her are both evident when speaking with all who worked with her in the PE department and under her during her time as administrator. For 36 years she gave all she could to keep Murphy the special place it is.
Miss Sparkman was presented a Lifetime Service Award pen. As the fourth recipient her name will be added to the special Lifetime Service plaque that is displayed at Murphy High School.
Lifetime Service Award presented to Linda Sparkman
Frederick F. Denton, Jr., class of 1949, showed his future promise when he was elected for membership in the National Honor Society at Murphy. He strengthened that promise while attending Auburn University as a co-op student with Alabama Power, gaining Membership in Phi Kappa Pi and being recognized as a Distinguished Military graduate when graduating with Honors in 1955. Following graduation, he served for three years as a navigator and electronics warfare officer in the USAF, spending some of this time stationed in Japan. Fred resumed work at Alabama Power and advanced from mail clerk to District Manager. In 1971 he left Alabama Power and joined the State of Alabama's Economic Development Office, where he served as Industrial Development Director and International Director, staying for 25 years until retiring in 1996.
During his tenure with Alabama Development Office, Fred served two terms as president for the National Association of State Development Agencies, was a founding member and officer for the Japan/American Society of Alabama, and was the State of Alabama coordinator for both the Southeast U.S./Japan Association and the Se US/Korea Association. He was also a member and president of the Birmingham Civitan Club and is currently a member of Montgomery Civitan Club.
Mobile Mayor Dow recognized his retirement with his own special day via a Proclamation from the City of Mobile, and it was also marked by a Certificate of Commendation from the State of Alabama. His retirement was marked in Japan by his receiving the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with rosette, from the Emperor of Japan in recognition of his work and service in promoting economic ties between the US and Japan. Mr. Denton received numerous endorsements for this award from many prominent citizens.
Denton accepted the award and stated he was honored to be inducted with Jim Gray and Dr. Sid Phillips. He thanked his nominee and those who endorsed his nomination as well as so many friends who joined him for the event. He reflected on his days at Murphy and presented a short essay by an unknown author entitled ”For All Those Born Before 1945” with copies for the Alumni Association and the school library.
James C. Gray, class of 1949. One of the first educational areas put on the chopping block in bad times is art. James C. Gray's life is a testament to why school art programs are important. Art has long been the driving force in the life of Jim Gray. He began drawing and painting at the age of 6 and is now recognized nationally for his painting and sculpture.
His family moved to Mobile from Tennessee when he was 10. Jim attended Murphy High School where he took classes from art teacher Miss Clyde Kennedy. She provided him with his only formal training in art and he has always given her much credit, especially for her advice to “see the picture” in the mind's eye before trying to draw it. Jim said this taught him to rely on his “inner self and mind's eye rather than just copying” something. He created cartoons and drawings for the school's publications and also had a job as an artist for a local ad agency. He was inducted into the Fan Randlette Art Honor Society and served as its president. He graduated mid-year in 1949-50.
Jim served initially in the Navy but switched to the Air Force. He was stationed in Illinois where he met his future wife. He returned to Mobile and continued to make a living producing art for ad agencies and eventually formed a firm with two other ad men in 1962 – Ditmars, Demeranville and Gray; however, he continued to paint for himself and the shipyards and maritime activities in Mobile and along the Alabama coast of the Gulf of Mexico where a primary focus. This work inspired a later collection named 400 Years of Seafaring. Jim warned his partners that as soon as he could support himself with his art, he would leave. This happened in 1966 when he went on vacation near Gatlinburg, Tennessee and fell in love with the area. He moved there and opened a gallery. There are now four Jim Gray Galleries. His art reflecting his love of the area's beauty earned him the Governor's Award in the Arts in 2003 and a special lifetime achievement award at the Gatlinburg Fine Arts Festival in 2008.
In 1968 Jim entered into a conversation with a National Geographic reporter who was writing about the Smoky Mountains and the writer was so struck with him and his work that he included them in his story, which put Jim “on the map” with a wide audience. A photo of Jim and Fran included with this article was later used by Carl Sagen and was also included in the photos carried by Voyager I and Voyager II to show life on Earth. In 1975 Loyal American Life Insurance bought a whole collection of Jim's work and exhibited it abroad as a celebration of America;s Bicentennial. Several of Jim's bronze sculptures are on the grounds of Tennessee's capital and the Congressional Record paid tribute to Jim stating that he has sold over 2,000 paintings and 125,000 prints. American Artist wrote a feature article on Jim and his son Chris has written a book. His working life has also been regularly documented by the Knoxville PBS affiliate for many years.
Jim Gray was unable to attend as he and his family are attending a major display of his works at a showing in Tennessee. Accepting the award on behalf of Mr Gray was his friend, Nora Helveston.
Dr. Sidney Clarke Phillips, Jr., class of 1941. Sid Phillips has served Mobile for many years in the medical field, but in the last five years, he also has become a major voice for what Tom Brokaw called the “greatest generation.” Sidney was an active student at Murphy, belonging to the Philatelic Club (stamps) and the Museum Club, while participating in the band and orchestra.
Sid was one of millions of young men whose future was shaped by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As explained on Sid's website. “Sid's Uncle Joe was in the Navy and W.O. Brown, Sid's great friend, suggested they join the Navy one day. Sid replied “OK” but they were too late. The line to join the Navy poured into the street. As they waited, a Marine recruiter approached Sid and W. O. and said the Marines would put them “eyeball to eyeball” with the Japanese. That was all it took. The common taunt of “you'll be sor-ree” that he heard at boot camp on Paris Island became the title of the book he would eventually write about his war experiences. After a brief visit home on Memorial Day in 1942, Sid left for more training and then his battle assignment in Guadalcanal. After a miserable experience there and a lovely one healing in Melbourne, Australia, Sid was next sent to New Britain, where the monsoons were as much an enemy as the Japanese. One night the Japanese launched a banzai charge against Sid's battalion at the height of a monsoon. The next morning, Sid watched helplessly as stretcher bearers carried his badly wounded friends back from the front lines. He vowed, then and there, to study medicine if he ever made it home.
He did just that. Sid returned home in 1944, was accepted into the V-12 college program and transferred to the University of North Carolina, earning two years credit by the war's end. He also began dating and married Mary Houston, whom he knew from his days at Murphy. He completed his undergraduate degree at Spring Hill College, and got his Medical Degree at The University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Dr. Frances Garner, deceased, Class of 1945. Frances Garner was a devoted educator who shared her love of language and reading all over the world. While at Murphy, Frances was a member of the Bible Club and the French Club. After graduating in 1945, she continued her education at Judson College and at Peabody College, where she earned her BA in Spanish. She earned a Masters Degree in English at Duke University and went on to complete her education with a Ph.D. In English at the University of Tennessee.
In 1961 she signed on as a charter faculty member of the new Mobile College, now the University of Mobile. She was named professor of English and went on to become the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She was a member of the Modern Language Association and the Henry James Society. Dr. Garner spent many summers teaching English abroad in Nicaragua, Viet Nam and China. She was very active in her church where she taught Sunday School, and served as a Trustee and Secretary for the First Baptist Church of Mobile Foundation.
Dr Garner retired and was named a Professor Emeritus of English in 1997. She holds the distinct honor of having a building on campus named after her.
Accepting on behalf of Dr. Garner is her nephew David Garner from New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. Garner thanked the Association for the distinguished award on behalf of her entire family. He added that she is remembered by her five nephews as a loving, generous, and kind aunt who valued education most after her family.
Emily Staples Hearin, deceased – Class of 1932. Emily Hearin was Mardi Gras royalty, a published author and an active civic leader for the City of Mobile. Emily Staples Hearin, nicknamed “Eckie” in the Mohian, graduated from Murphy in 1932, where she was chosen to be Team Sponsor by the football squad her senior year. She attended Holton Arms School in Washington after graduating and returned to Mobile to make her debut and reign as queen of the Carnival in 1934.
Public service was a constant throughout her life. Emily served as Chairwoman of the Civil Defense Bureau during WWII. She was a member and president of the Junior League of Mobile. Later she supported the Boys and Girls Club, hosting fundraisers at her home and elsewhere, as well as the Home of Grace. Historic preservation was one of her greatest enthusiasms. She was one of the first to advocate the preservation of buildings in downtown Mobile. She served on the Alabama Historical Commission, was an original member of the Board of Directors for the Museum of the City of Mobile, and was President of the Friends of the Museum. Along with Holle Briskman, she started the Magnolia Messenger, a newsletter regarding the refurbishment of the Magnolia Cemetery. She was also President of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society and was a founder of Candlelight Christmas at Oakleigh.
Emily was also a published author of five books about Mobile: Traditions of Candelight Christmas, Downtown Goes Uptown, Queens of Mardi Gras, Canopy of Oaks and Let the Good Times Roll. Some of these are compilations of columns she wrote for the local paper. She was named Mobile's First Lady of the Year in 1975 and Mobilian of the year in 1992.
Accepting for their mother were daughters Louise McCarron and Kit Hamilton who thanked everyone for the award. They added that she loved Mobile and Murphy and would have loved to have been a part of this ceremony.
Brigadier General Robert Haywood McInvale, Jr., deceased, Class of 1960. Robert “Bobby” McInvale was a well-rounded man who represented Murphy well. While a student at Murphy he was involved in music, participating in the chorus and musical shows his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was active in the Beta Hi-Y Club and was an officer his senior year. He also played tennis so well that when he graduated from Murphy, he attended the University of Southern Mississippi on a tennis scholarship. McInvale's love of singing kept him active in the Mobile Opera Chorus as well as in his church choir. He also helped with the church's Meals on Wheels program. Another service he provided his community was his work with the Boy Scouts. He was a leading agent with Allstate Insurance Company in Mobile for 25 years, where he was a friend and confidant to coworkers and clients alike. He was recognized for his work with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Bobby was also an avid outdoorsman, his fishing and hunting skills were second to none. He even won the City Championship for Bass Clubs.
At the age of 73, at the request of his children, he began to write about his experiences as a Marine. Published initially for family only, You'll Be Sor-ree is now widely available. When filmmaker Ken Burns came to Mobile looking for Eugene Sledge, a fellow Marine veteran and lifelong friend of Phillips' who had passed away earlier, Sledge's family suggested he talk to Phillips. Phillips and his sister Katharine were interviewed twice for Burns' documentary, The War. After that, HBO came calling and created a miniseries called The Pacific which recounted the stores of Phillips, Sledge and others. Phillips served as a consultant on this service and traveled to Hollywood several times in that capacity. He impacted many lives, both through his medical career, and as a spokesman for the veterans of WWII.
Dr. Phillips thanked the Association for the award and lamented about his wonderful times at Murphy High School. He said this is a great honor and that he is most astounded that all those things happened when he was a 17 year old idiot. The Marines changed him from a high school boy. He said it's good to be old and he hopes he's remembered as a Christian and a Patriot. He also presented a signed copy of his book You'll Be Sor-ree to the Murphy High School Library
McInvale enlisted in the Army Reserves and was an officer in the Reserves for more than 30 years. He served on active duty for five years, including one tour in VietNam and service in Desert Storm. While serving he received the Legion of Merit, Bronze star with oak leaf cluster and valor device, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and valor device, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with two leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with bronze star device, Republic of VietNam Cross of Gallantry with two silver stars, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Major General Horace B. Hanson Jr. Hall of Fame Minuteman award. He served in multiple commander posts for both active and reserve assignments. Since his death, he was awarded the Transportation Corps Hall of Fame for the U. S. Army in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2010.
Bobby was active with all of his Murphy reunions. His children also attended Murphy, keeping him involved with the school for over 50 years. Accepting on his behalf is his widow, Nancy Williams McInvale. She said she and their children and grandchildren who attended with her are so pleased to accept the award.
L-R Mike McNair, Pres.; Paulette Saffold, 2nd V.P.; Ellie Foster, Secretary; Carmen Miller, 1st V.P; Marian Jackson, Treasurer.
Refreshments were prepared by the Murphy Culinary Department and the Murphy Jazz Band provided musical entertainment.
Click on picture to enlarge.