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The Henderson County Education Foundation added 13 new inductees to its Hall of Fame, including pioneers of African-American schools before desegregation, longtime teachers, important contributors to Blue Ridge Community College and historians.
The class of 2013 brought the total number of Hall of Fame honorees to 100. The new class will be recognized at the11th annual TD Bank/HCEF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 21 at the Hendersonville Country Club. The keynote speaker is Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Molly A. Parkhill.
The event is the chief HCEF fundraiser to help pay for scholarships and grants. Other banquet sponsors are Park Ridge Health and Selee Corp.
Inductees in the Hall of Fame come from three catergories: administration and teaching, support personnel, and those outside the schools who are strong education supporters.
The 13 inductees include two going in as pairs —John and Wanda Love and sisters Rosa Edwards and Lois Edwards. The 13 people in 2013 are the most inducted since 14 in the inaugural class of 2003.
"We have a dynamic class of outstanding people," HCEF Executive Director Dr. Don Jones said.
New inductees are BRCC administrator Frank J. Byrd, teachers Mary Valentine Mims, Kathryn Streeter Morgan, John Floyd Whitmire, Louise Jones Williams and Phyllis L. Wilson; the Loves; the Edwards sisters; secretary Ruby Hernandez as support personnel, and historians Chester Allen (Chat) Jones and Sadie Smathers Patton. Eight of the 13 are living.
Each has shown "measurable influence or made significant contributions to the growth and development of education in Henderson County." Inductees must have served at least 10 years in local schools and be retired for at least five years or deceased.
The Henderson County Hall of Fame is one of only five local education halls of fame across the state and the only one in Western North Carolina.
Frank J. Byrd was a pivotal administrator at BRCC for 29 years as director of Counseling Services, starting in 1978. In his last five years starting in 2002, he also served as dean for Student Services. In that span, the college annually earned a state superior ranking for student certification exam scores. He linked counseling with four-year colleges and local high schoolers, starting College Night and a regional workshop. The Army veteran improved campus accessibility and learning for disabled students. Byrd was a Hendersonville Times-News columnist. He joins his wife Ethlyn Sims Byrd, a retired teacher, in the hall.
Rosa Edwards (1877-1932) and Lois Edwards (1884-1931) each taught at Fourth Avenue Graded School/Academy, Hendersonville's grammar school with grades 1-10. Rosa was principal there for 13 years, from 1919 until her death of a heart attack on Dec. 22, 1932. The school was soon renamed for her. She taught seventh grade for the school's first seven years, starting when it opened in 1912. Lois taught first grade at Fourth Avenue for its first 17 years, stepping down in 1929 due to heart disease. She died in 1931, just 16 months ahead of her sister. Lois was the youngest of 10 children.
Ruby Hernandez was a fixture as secretary at Mills River Elementary for 28 years, from 1964-92. She is described as very friendly to children and parents, often working out many families' concerns and ever amplifying school attributes. Loyal to Mills River, she declined central office jobs to stay where she was. She started her educational career in 1949 as assistant secretary to Buncombe County Public Schools Supt. T.C. Roberson, after whom an area high school is named.
Chester Allen (Chat) Jones (1949-2012) helped the community and youth in particular in many ways, as a Good Samaritan and devoted historian. A 1969 Edneyville High graduate, Jones chronicled local history including school history, collected photos and press clippings and gave multi-media presentations. He and his brother, Donnie, started the Special Needs Baseball League two years ago. Chat was a founding member of the committee that established the HCEF Hall of Fame. He ran Jones Auto Sales. He was very active with Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville, serving as its president in 1987. He also founded the faithfully kept up with the effort to provide diapers for babies of single moms who were attending Balfour School.
John Love and Wanda Love each dedicated decades to education in different ways. She was principal of Fletcher Elementary, after a teaching career that began in 1962, first in Brevard and later in Henderson County. She moved into the local central office for 13 years. She was director of elementary education and media, elementary and middle grades, then language arts and media. John Love, also an Etowah School graduate, worked for DuPont. Love served 18 years on the Henderson County School Board, starting in 1970 when seats were first elected rather than appointed. Love is the last surviving School Board member from that 1970 election. He then served 15 years on the Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees, to 2005. Both Loves have long volunteered at Historic Johnson Farm, which is owned by the school system.
Mary Valentine Mims taught home economics in the all-black Ninth Avenue School from 1948 to 1965, then at integrated Hendersonville High School until her retirement in 1985. Her teaching career spanned 37 years. Ninth Avenue dedicated one of its yearbooks to her. The City of Hendersonville established Mary V. Mims and Hannah L. Edwards Day on June 20, 2012, when Ninth Avenue and earlier Sixth Avenue Schools (1916-65) were commemorated with a marker rededication at U.S. 64 West and Valley Street. Mims served 25 years on the BRCC board, from 1983-2007.
Kathryn Streeter Morgan was an educator for 32 years. She taught health and physical education for a quarter-century at Hendersonville High School (HHS), from 1974-99. She then was assistant principal and lead teacher during her final seven years. She was the 1996 N.C. high school P.E. teacher of the year. At HHS Morgan initiated the drug- and alcohol-free post-graduation party for seniors in 1989, a program that is now in all four local high schools. She coached Lady Bearcat basketball, volleyball and softball. She was a Division 1 volleyball referee. She has taught part-time at BRCC, works as a substitute teacher, is a longtime Rescue Squad member and serves on the National Ski Patrol.
Sadie Smathers Patton (1886-1975) gave to local education, with words, money and deeds. She donated 109 farm acres for Blue Ridge Technical Institute (now Blue Ridge Community College), in memory of her late husband Preston F. Patton. The administration building is named for him, and Patton Auditorium hosts hundreds of college and community events. Also in 1968, she donated 20 acres for Patton Park. Sadie Patton is best know for her 1947 book, "The Story of Henderson County," which is still regarded as one of the definitive accounts of county history. She served on the executive board of the N.C. Department of Archives and History from 1941 until 1957. She worked as secretary for the local Board of Trade, and as a senior court reader in most area counties.
John Floyd Whitmire coached Edneyville High basketball, as a highlight of a teaching and coaching career that thrived in 1965-84 and that he still carries on over a span of 48 years. Whitmire led the Edneyville boys to two conference titles and their best AA finish ever, the district championship in 1973. Earlier, he coached Henderson Junior High boys He was Henderson County schools bus supervisor and trainer for 20 more years, from 1984 to 2004. He got back into coaching as an assistant for North Henderson girls in 2005-12 and now coaches the East Henderson boys. John follows brothers Boyce "Blondie" and Bill Whitmire into the HCEF Hall of Fame. The trio and late brother Pat won four post-WWII state basketball titles for HHS.
Louise Jones Williams (1917-2011) taught elementary school for 32 years, including more than a decade in Mills River and 16 at Balfour until her retirement in 1979. She mostly taught fourth grade. She customized instruction to individual students and cared for their needs in the classroom and beyond. She was known for her decorum and inspiration. She first taught at age 18, at Hayesville Elementary School, before marrying and moving here. She was born during World War I, and lived to age 94.
Phyllis L. Wilson taught second grade for 30 years, from 1963-93, mostly at Bruce Drysdale starting in 1966. She first taught at Flat Rock Elementary for a year, then Hillandale for two more years. She was Bruce Drysdale's teacher of the year twice. She has served as president of Henderson County Retired School Personnel for four years. She volunteers at Historic Johnson Farm, heading cataloguing of historic artifacts. Phyllis and Tom Wilson, retired Hendersonville High principal, are among spouses enshrined in the hall, along with the Loves, Frank and Ethyln Sims Byrd, Dr. Amy and Dan Pace, Corum and Anne Smith, Dr. Frederick and Katharine Hazelton Taylor and Thomas and Kay Siewert Williams.
Banquet tickets cost $30, and are available by March 7. For more in HCEF programs or events, call 698-8884 or 696-6688 or check www.hcef.info.