Alexander High School Legacy Hall of Honor
It is that time again to honor the success of graduates of Alexander High School, the Alexander High School Legacy Committee created the Hall of Honor in 2006. The Hall of Honor recognizes and honors Alexander alumni and former students who, through leadership, character and hard work, have made exceptional contributions in their chosen field, and in their communities.
The Hall of Honor Committee presented the following alumni as the fifth class of the Alexander High School Legacy Hall of Honor during ceremonies held Friday: Percy B. Bryant Jr., Sylvia A. Buie, Myrtle Louise Crossley, Kermit Dow, Annie Mae Newton Gaston, Irma Pearl Alexander James, Clarence B. Johnson, Sr., Louis Jones Jr., Dr. Trawick Lindsay, Alphonse A. Marks, Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, Edith Richardson, Theola Bryant Robinson, Mamie Dickey Sanders, Margaret “Ann” Billups Thomas, Carroll Oswa “C. 0.” Tanner, Pertis H. Williams Jr. and Bobbie Jean Baker Wilson-Moore.
Percy B. Bryant Jr.
Class of ‘65
A soft spoken, gentle giant who always has a smile, Percy B. Bryant Jr., is the third of five children born to the late Percy Sr. and Elease Bryant. Bryant is a member of the graduating Class of 1965 from Alexander High School. While in high school, he was a member of the men’s track team for four years, lettering his senior year under coach Carl Holloway.
After high school, Bryant matriculated at Jackson State University as he was in pursuit of his Bachelor of Science degree. He received his B.S. degree in 1969 and immediately went about teaching in the Natchez Public School District. There he began his 36-year career in education.
An upward mobility opportunity presented itself, so he transferred to the West Point School District in 1972. There he remained until retirement in July 2005 as principal. Bryant received several outstanding recognitions, some of which are Teacher of the Year and Certificate of Appreciation from Gov. William Waller, Outstanding Performance in Student Achievement (1998-89), and Principal of the Year (1999).
In his early years in the West Point School District, he continued his studies by completing all requirements for his master’s degree in 1975 at Jackson State University. He also has done advanced studies for school administration at Mississippi State University.
Although he officially retired from education in 2005, Bryant found that he just could not walk away. He worked in the GED West Point School District Program from 2006 to 2010 and the GED East Mississippi Community College Program in 2011.
He is very active in his church as a worker in the United Methodist Men. Bryant is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and he also is a member of such civic entities as AARP and Clay County Retired Personnel of Mississippi.
Bryant says, “I have lived my life around a very simple philosophy based on pragmatism. Perseverance has kept me grounded, and helped me stay true to whatever the endeavor, so I will never give up or give in to the challenges that I may face.”
He and his wife, Robbie, are the proud parents of two children and four grandchildren.
Sylvia Anastasia Buie
Class of ‘70
A member of the last class to graduate from Alexander High School, Sylvia Anastasia Buie is the second of six children of the late Jesse and Leatrice Buie.
As an honor student, she was very active in most extracurricular activities and community projects. Immediately following graduation, she entered the famed Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She transferred to Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Once she was settled in, she just decided every degree would be earned from MSU — bachelor of science, master’s and Ed.S.
Her career years have been centered on improving the educational experience for both student and teacher. She has worked in the Ingham Intermediate School District, East Lansing Public Schools District and Michigan State University Office of Gifted and Talented Programs in the Division of the Honors College.
Buie spent over 40 years in education, most recently as director of gifted and talented education. There she advocated developing and promoting differentiated educational enrichment instructions and programs for high ability students. Also she is the director of literacy instruction, providing professional development services in the area of literacy for teachers, administrators and support staff.
During this tenure, Sylvia was instrumental in the design, development, and implementation of the gifted and talented program for the East Lansing Public School District. As such, she was responsible for the sight of 13 local school districts gifted and talented programs.
She holds the distinct honor of being elected the first Black and female president of the East Lansing School Association Teachers’ Union. In this capacity Sylvia was the chief negotiator and instrumental in leading the district’s negotiation team to its first ever three-year contract with consecutive increases.
She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Links, Incorporated, Junior League of Lansing, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Retired Educator Association, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Association of Gifted Children, Association of Educational Service Agencies, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, ASCD, Learn, Teach, Lead (A global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching and leading), Council for Exceptional Children, and the International Reading Association.
She does volunteer work with the Haven House — Helping Lansing Area Families Help Themselves, Boys and Girl Club of Lansing, Young Women for Change, Girls’ Math, Science, Technology Annual Conference chairperson, and the Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure.
Buie has one son and currently resides in East Lansing, Michigan and Brookhaven.
Class of ‘24
Myrtle Crossley spent most her spare time serving others and playing bridge. Crossley’s life centered on her volunteer work and prayer.
Although she spent many years working in other places, her heart was always connected to her home in Brookhaven. She was born in 1911 in the Auburn community to the late Leander and Ada Crossley. The family of seven — five children — moved to Brookhaven when she was a child. She attended the Gulledge School in primary grades. She went to live with her brother and finished high school in Kankakee, Illinois. Later, she attended Good Shepherded Community College in Chicago.
Afterward, Crossley attended the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C. where she was awarded certificates in records and filing. Her next position was as an executive assistant with the American Foreign Service in the State Department that took her all over the world, including Sudan (1962), Iran (1964), Yemen (1966), Afghanistan (1967) and South Vietnam (1969).
When she retired in 1974, she moved back to Brookhaven. Her concern for others led her to be an active participant in many local organizations. Crossley’s commitment afforded her many honors, awards, and recognition from those whom she served. She also volunteered at the Brookhaven Ministerial Association and Food Pantry.
She served as a city election commissioner, a member of the Brookhaven Trust, the American Contract Bridge and on the board of directors for the Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation.
She attended Bethel A.M.E. Church where she was a member of the Julia Heywood Missionary Society and enjoyed her Sunday School Class.
Kermit “Chubby” Dow
Class of ‘70
Kermit Dow, affectionately known as “Chubby” to family and friends, was born and raised in a traditional household in Brookhaven. He has always been very family oriented because he knows his family members are the ones that will always be there to support him as he takes the next steps in life.
While attending Alexander High School, he made the most of his time and participated in baseball, basketball and football. He received numerous academic awards while in high school and was voted by his classmates as the most popular male in his senior class. He was an academic scholar and received a scholarship to Alcorn State University where he obtained his bachelor of science and master’s degrees in mathematics. While attending ASU, he was an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. and was involved in many community activities sponsored by his fraternity including the Guide Right Program, Kappa League, and Kappa Kamp.
Upon completion of his master’s degree in 1976, Kermit joined State Farm Insurance as an actuarial analyst. For the past 40 years, he has held several positions in the company and is currently a business lines team manager in Dallas, Texas, with the responsibility of 18 staff members writing insurance across the United States. He is a chartered property casualty underwriter, field safety representative and a licensed property and casualty insurance writer in Texas. Additionally, he is owner and vice president of Triple Play Tournaments of Texas, LLC, which was founded with a longtime friend in 2008 and hosts baseball tournaments in and around the Dallas area.
When not at work and running his company, he finds time to work with the inner city youth teaching them the art of bass fishing. He is involved with Habitat for Humanity and is a mentor to many young professionals. He is a founder and board member of the Gamma Pi Alumni Association and is an avid tournament bass fisherman.
Dow has always been very dedicated and hardworking when trying to achieve his goals. He does not let any obstacles get in his way. He finds the positives and works around the obstacles to achieve his dreams.
He and his wife, Jil, are the proud parents of two children and one grandchild, with another due to arrive in August.
Annie Mae Newton Gaston
Class of ‘31
A gracious lady of 97 years and a member of the Class of 1931, Annie Mae Newton Gaston rejoiced in her eternal home May 31, 2009. Newton was born in Lincoln County on May 24, 1912, and was the youngest daughter of the late Mary Howard Newton Canes. She was united in marriage to the late Minyon Gaston on May 23, 1947. To this union, two daughters were born.
Gaston received her early education at Damascus School (at Damascus M.B. Church) in Lincoln County and Gulledge School in Brookhaven. She graduated from high school at Natchez College in Natchez in 1932. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from Alcorn A & M College (Class of 1937) — now Alcorn State University; a master’s degree in elementary education from Tuskegee Institute (Class of 1962) now Tuskegee University. Further study was completed at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; Atlanta University, Atlanta; and Nassau Community College, Uniondale, New York.
“Miss Newton”, as she was known by many of her former students, united with the Damascus Missionary Baptist Church at an early age and faithfully continued in the service of the Lord throughout her life. She had been an active member of Damascus Missionary Baptist Church most of her life; and was a member of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church during the 14 years she lived in Roosevelt, New York. She worked faithfully as a Sunday School teacher in both churches, and was a dedicated member of the missionary board, including the president of the missionary board for many years, and the church historian during her years at Damascus. Her open heart, willing hand and spirit of service to the church and the community exemplified her love for God.
In 1987, Gaston was recognized at Alcorn State University with a golden diploma celebrating her 50th college graduation anniversary.
All of her adult life was dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders in her community. She devoted 37 years to a career in teaching, most of which was at the fourth-grade level. As a teacher in the Brookhaven Colored School System, she taught in the elementary department of Alexander High School and later at Fannie L. Mullins Elementary School.
In 1963, Gaston and her daughters joined her husband in Roosevelt, Long Island, New York. While in New York, Gaston taught fourth-grade special education in the New York City Public School System at Public School 160 in Queens. In 1974, she retired from the New York City Public School System.
In 1976, she and Minyon, returned to Brookhaven where she continued her work in religious and civic organizations. She was a member of the Retired Teachers Associations of Mississippi and New York State, Alcorn State Alumni Association, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and several other organizations. Gaston was a charter member of the Gamma Beta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, incorporated in Brookhaven. She also was a faithful Girl Scout leader for many years.
Irma Pearl Alexander James
Class of ‘47
Irma Pearl Alexander James is the only child born to the man who helped lay the groundwork for excellence in education for black students in Brookhaven — the late A. A. Alexander and his beloved wife Frances. She is an honor graduate in the Class of 1947 from Alexander High School.
She matriculated at Alcorn A & M College — now Alcorn State University — in pursuit of her bachelor of science degree, which she received in 1951 with a major in social science and minor in mathematics.
Moving to Illinois, she entered the University of Illinois and completed all requirements for her master’s degree in counseling and guidance. She also married the love of her life, the late Mitchell James in 1953. She did post graduate studies for specialty certificates at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.
The couple relocated to Denver, Colorado where she was employed in the Denver School District from 1955 until 1988. Positions held during her tenure included high school counselor, high school dean, assistant principal of two high schools, and middle school principal from which she retired in 1988. After retiring, she worked two years as a part-time employee at Community College of Aurora.
Her civic, religious and social affiliations include YMCA‘s Back-a-Boy Program, School Danes, Assistance League of Denver (thrift shop providing new clothing to school children); loan hospital equipment to home-bound patients, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., of which she has served in many elected officer positions and Committee chairmanships and numerous professional organizations. In her church she serves as a lector and ecumenical minister.
She is most proud of being recognized as highest fundraiser and education initiatives in Counseling and Leadership.
James believes that she has had a good life. At 85 years of age, she is healthy and enjoying life. For this, she thanks God daily for His blessings.
She is the proud mother of two daughters, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Clarence “Doc” Johnson Sr.
Class of ‘45
Clarence B. “Doc” Johnson Sr. was born to the late Clarence E. Johnson and Bonita Womack Johnson. He was the oldest of two children.
Johnson graduated from Alexander High School in 1945. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany and earned the rank of sergeant in field artillery. He graduated from Tougaloo College with a bachelor of science degree and from Central Missouri State University with a master’s degree in ecology. He also attended Dillard University and Alcorn State University.
He was an avid teacher. He taught at Durant High School in Durant, McCullough High School in Monticello, Progress High School and Eva Harris High School in Brookhaven. He coached the Eva Harris girls’ basketball team and led the team to a state championship in 1961.
He was a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church where he served as a steward, Sunday School superintendent for 30 years and class leader. Johnson also was member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church where he served as superintendent of the Sunday School.
He served as an alderman in Brookhaven for two terms (1981-85 and 1989-93). He Johnson was a man who loved his work and loved serving the people and always conscientious about the City of Brookhaven and his ward. He tried to be a friend to all in the community.
He was member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., the Tougaloo Alumni Club and the National Book Club. He authored “Integration vs. Segregation in Mississippi Schools.”
He was married to the late Mary Hall Johnson and they were the parents of four sons and two grandchildren.
Louis “Butch” Jones Jr.
Class of ‘66
Louis “Butch” Jones Jr. is the son of the late Louis Sr. and Mary Louise Jones of Brookhaven. The 1965-66 Best All-Around Student is a 1966 graduate of Alexander High School. The three-year letterman jinebacker and long snapper earned his bachelor of science degree in social science and economics from Jackson State University in 1971. He also earned dual master of science degrees in physical education and athletic administration, supervision and coaching from Alcorn State University in 1977.
His career began as an instructor and assistant football coach at Alcorn A & M College in 1971. At Alcorn, he had several positions, including chief recruiter, girls volleyball head coach, women’s softball head coach, strength and conditioning coach for the entire athletic department and dormitory director for the Albert L. Lott Dormitory (named after the AHS 1937 graduate). As Alcorn’s chief recruiter, he had the privilege of recruiting and coaching some of ASU’s greatest players —Elliott Smith, Milton Mack, Lawrence Pillars, Donald Driver, Terry Freeman, Leslie Frazier, Eric Jackson, Roynell Young, Frank Pilate and the McNair brothers (Fred, Tim and Steve). While at Alcorn, Coach Jones was assistant coach for the 1974, 1984 and 1994 National Black Championship team. He also was assistant coach to the 1976, 1979 and 1992 Southwestern Athletic Association Conference Championship football teams.
Jones has been awarded numerous awards. He is the 1992 and 1993 SWAC Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year, 1997-1998 SWAC Women’s Softball Coach of the Year, and Assistant Coach of the Year in 1974, 1984, and 1994. Butch has the distinction of being the only coach in SWAC history to be named Coach of the Year on three different sports.
Active in various community activities, Coach Jones is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, the Jackson MS Chapter of 100 Black Men of America, Lifetime member of Phi Delta Kappa, Elks, M. W. Stringer Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons (Master Mason), American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Mississippi Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance and Habitat for Humanity.
He and his family are members of the Farish Street Baptist Church in Jackson, where he has served as chairman of the deacon board and is a trustee. He received the 2011 Layman’s Association Award for Brotherhood and was named 2015 Man of the Year Award.
He is married to the former Linda Richards and they are the parents of five boys and one girl. He is also Paw-Paw to five grandchildren.
Dr. Trawick “Poochie” Lindsay
Class of ‘70
Dr. Trawick “Poochie” Lindsay probably is known as “The Phenomenal Man” among his professional peers. He attended Alexander High School, but graduated from Brookhaven High School Class of 1970. Upon graduating from high school, he immediately entered prestigious Morehouse College, Atlanta Georgia earning a bachelor of science degree in clinical psychology in 1974. He would later earn a master’s degree in the same discipline at Tennessee State University/Meharry Medical College in Nashville in May 1978. He wanted more, so he decided to go on to the next step of obtaining his specialist certificate in counseling in August 1979 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His ultimate dream was getting his doctorate from Howard University in Washington D.C. in 1984.
The son of Azetta Lucille Lindsay, Trawick’s career of service includes educational/mental health administration affecting the psychoeducational success of children. Additionally, Lindsay has been a court ordered clinical psychological consultant to Judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Over the course of 35 years he has had in his care children ranging from pre- school age to post high school and emancipation.
Lindsay has held the following positions during his career Licensed Psychologist, School Psychologist, and Psychology Associate all in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area.
He has treated children within the Washington, Virginia, and Maryland area for emotional and behavioral disorders. His clinical training was completed at Meharry Community Mental Health Hospital in Nashville, Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., DC General and Greater South East Hospitals in Washington, D.C.
His honors and awards consist of the following: Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society, Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, Psi Chi Honor Society, American Psychological Association, Morehouse Alumni Association, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
Alphonse A. Marks
Class of ‘37
Alphonse Marks was among Mississippi’s first minority Extension members. He was born to the late Hattie and Willie Marks on April 4, 1917 in Bogue Chitto. Marks graduated from Alexander High School in 1937. He went on to study agricultural science and received his bachelor of science degree from Alcorn A & M College in 1941, now Alcorn State University. He also received a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. Further post-graduate studies were completed at Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin.
His accomplishments were many and included three years in the U.S. Army during World War II and service for five years as vocational agricultural teacher in Mississippi’s public schools.
During over 30 years of Extension service, his community and peers recognized his leadership, intense work habits, and people skills with six Extension distinguished and meritorious awards. As a county agent his focus was on C.R.D., 4-H and Agriculture. Marks was a leader in the consolidation of blacks and whites in Mississippi Extension. His Extension career was diverse, but his passion was youth. He took the diversity around him and brought it into one focus — success through partnership, especially in his work with 4-H youth. Marks was selected to have his name affixed to a wing of the Mississippi 4-H Museum.
He served five years as a marketing specialist for the State of Mississippi and was on the Pike County Board of Supervisors where he was elected president. He was a member of the Pike County Democratic Executive Committee and served most of that time as chairperson.
A founding father of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, he officiated sporting events at both the secondary and university levels. He was inducted into the Alcorn State University Hall of Honor and was named a National Gold Whistle Finalist by the National Association of Sports Officials.
Marks’ leadership is evident: president, Alcorn State University Alumni, Pike County Chapter; president, Mississippi 4-H Advisory Council; president, Mississippi County Agent Association; 4-H Volunteer Leader; president, Southwest District 4-H Leaders Association; first vice president, 4-H Club Foundation of Mississippi and Mississippi Supervisor’s Association committee chair. He worked orked diligently to support and fund various Pike County efforts. After 1977, he continued as a 4-H Volunteer, including involvement in district and state organizations. He is also active in Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army board of directors, Rho Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, Masons, American Legion and the Red Cross.
He joined New Zion Baptist Church and was a very active member. He was president of the deacon board, taught Sunday School, was a member of the Male Chorus, served as president of the Brotherhood and worked giving of his wisdom at all times.
He was the state’s first African-American to hold the position of County Extension Agent in Mississippi, served as president of the Pike County Board of Supervisors, was chair of the Pike County Democratic Executive committee and the Masons.
His 4-H statistics were: Guided 4-H members to 19 national winners, 14 regional winners, and 41 state winners; M.M. Hubert Award (dedicated service) and Notable Achievement Award, Alcorn State University; Distinguished Service Award, Mississippi Association of County Agents; Dedicated Service Award, U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation and Stabilization Service; Meritorious Service Award and Outstanding Service Award, MS 4-H; Meritorious Service Award, MS Pork Producers Association; Dedicated Service Award, Metro-Pike Industrial Foundation, Inc.; Distinguished Service, Pike County Salvation Army; State of Mississippi, Friend of Extension Award; Outstanding Citizen Award, Pike County Omicron Jr. Federated Club.
He was united in holy matrimony to the former Mary Brown for 59 years. Marks is survived by his wife, three sons and five grandchildren.
Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks
Class of ‘70
A resident of Antioch, Tennessee, Dr. Phyllis Qualls-Brooks is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Qualls. A member of the Class of 1970, this Alexander High School graduate distinguished herself both academically and in extra-curricular activities while in high school.
This Mississippi native earned her undergraduate degree in theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi. She then proceeded to earn a master’s degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1973. A strong advocate for education, she earned a doctorate degree in higher education administration from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University in 2006.
She began her distinguished career in television, working at WJTV in Jackson. There she worked her way up the ladder of success from secretary to program director.
Qualls-Brooks has served as executive director of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women since 2012. She has extensive experience in both state and federal government, education and communication. She has worked tirelessly to address the economic needs of Tennessee women and assess their economic status in order to improve the lives of women, children and families. In her role as executive director, she also develops and advocates solutions to barriers women face in order to help them achieve economic autonomy.
A highly sought-after speaker, Qualls-Brooks also conducts workshops and consults on issues of communication, education and women’s issues. As a consummate professional, she is an individual who walks the talk with a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. She helped develop an initiative to create strong partnerships between tourism and education, leading to increased career opportunities, representing the department on boards, committees and at events. This included appearing with the governor of Tennessee at events and meetings on behalf of the Department of Tourism, and serving as spokesperson for the department.
From July 1989 until July 1991, she was the director of public relations, special events and UNCF liaison at Tougaloo College.
Qualls-Brooks has received the following awards throughout her career: 2016 Nashville ATHENA Recipient, 2015 Tennessee State University Women of Legend & Merit, 2014 YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement Honoree, 2014 ATHENA Nominee, 2013 Nashville CABLE Power of Inclusion Award, 2011 Nashville Business Journal, “Woman of Influence”2011 NAACP Image Award for Education, Nominee, CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education), 2000 Award of Excellence, TSU: “Bringing It Downtown”, 1998 Award of Excellence, TSU 85th anniversary, 1997 Special Merit Award, TSU: An Olympic Tradition, TCPRA (Tennessee College Public Relations Association), 1997 Gold Award, Accent, 1997 Gold Awards, Accent, TSU-NFL, 1997 Silver Award: Radio Series: Radio Digest, 1997 Bronze Awards, President’s Report, TSU Extensions, Professional Award, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc. 1999, Outstanding Woman of Mississippi, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, 1990, Who’s Who of Women Executives in America, 1989, Adopt-A-School Achievement Award, 1985, 1986, 1987, Jackson Public Schools, Jackson Advocate Community Involvement Award, 1986, Jackson, Outstanding Young Woman of America, 1981, Best Special News Event in the State of Mississippi: “Easter Flood of 1979,” Mississippi Broadcasters Association, 1979, Best Special News Event in the State of Mississippi: “Turkey Creek Tornado,” Mississippi Broadcasters Association, 1979, Outstanding Television Promotion, Project Media, 1977, and Employee of the Year, Capitol Broadcasting Company, 1975.
She is a member of Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Nashville. At Bethel, she is a member of the Steward Board, an assistant Sunday School teacher, and chairperson of the wedding ministry committee.
She also is a member of many professional, civic and social organizations, including the Vision 2020, a national organization regarding uplifting women, the Nashville chapters of Les Gemmes Inc., the Coalition of 100 Black Women, Consortium of Doctors, Ltd., N.A.A.C.P. life member, and Societas Docta Inc. She is also a member of the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee, American Association of University Women, National Association for Female Executives, CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education), Tennessee College Public Relations Association, Women in Higher Education in Tennessee, National Association of Black Journalists (Nashville Chapter), Public Relations Society of America, Jackson Advocate Board of Directors chair for one term and the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus.
She is the proud mother of one daughter and two grandsons.
Class of ‘43
Born and raised in a rural area with her six siblings, Edith Richardson’s parents are the late Marzell and Lizzie Whitworth Richardson. Her childhood of preparation, aspiration and attitude of success propelled her into a life of grace and purpose. She completed her academic education in the Brookhaven School System, graduating from Alexander High School in 1943, where she had been an exceptional student, active in numerous aspects of school life. Her educational experiences and background have been varied and rich.
In high school, Richardson was a member of a dance troupe that provided tasteful entertainment at all assembly programs and most community functions including several at Lampton Auditorium on Whitworth College Campus.
She owes much to Jackson College (Jackson State University) for the experiences, honors and training received during her four years there. Having been elected “Miss Jackson College” is among the cherished honors of her college life. She received ab of arts degree in elementary education with a minor in arts education from Jackson College. She continued her education at Prairie View A & M University; however, she received a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Richardson’s life’s purpose has centered on preparing children for academic excellence. She holds teaching certification from three states: Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. Her lifelong elementary teaching experiences include four years at West Helena, Arkansas, and 33 years in Beaumont, Texas. She received numerous educational honors and accolades, including “Who’s Who in Texas Education, while working with children from various socio-economic backgrounds, multi-racial and multi-ethnic groups. Her life has been enriched as she has impacted the lives of countless young people. While in Texas, in addition to educational affiliations, Edith also had an active spiritual, civic and social impact on the lives of other.
After retiring and returning to Brookhaven, she continued her life-long purpose of educating youth by spending ten additional years in the classroom at Fannie L. Mullins and Lipsey schools. She renewed her membership at St. James Missionary Baptist Church and has become an active member at church and Wednesday Bible Class. She is a member of The Mothers’ Ministry and Treasurer of Senior Women’s Ministry. Her training in Art and dedication to beauty and design are put to use as Lay-leader of the church decorating ministry.
Richardson is a charter member of The Natchez Chapter of The Links Inc. Her many skills and talents have been valuable to the vitality of the chapter for 30 years. She served as the chapter archivist for 25 years along with serving as chairperson of numerous committees.
Richardson is an extraordinary woman of gentle wisdom who has spent a lifetime as an example of grace and dignity in every aspect of her existence.
Theola “Polly” Bryant Robinson
Class of ‘49
Theola “Polly” Bryant Robinson, the second child of N.Z. and Allie Mae Bryant, was born on March 5, 1930, in Lincoln County. She attended Damascus School in Lincoln County until she entered the eighth grade at Alexander High School. Theola graduated from Alexander in 1949.
She attended Jackson State College graduating with a bachelor of science degree in home economics in 1953. While at Jackson State, she played basketball and joined the Lambda Beta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.
After graduating from college, she worked at Tunica County Vocational High School in Tunica, where she taught home economics and coached girls’ basketball.
She returned to the Brookhaven community to teach at Alexander School in 1955 and became actively involved in the community serving as one of the Girl Scout leaders. She also served as president and treasurer of the Gamma Beta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and chairperson of its debutante committee.
While diligently teaching home economics, she continued studying for her master’s degree during the summer. She received her master’s degree in textiles and clothing from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1958.
Robinson was united in holy matrimony to Sherridell Robinson and they had one daughter, one grandson and one great-grandson.
Theola remained employed as the home economics teacher at Alexander from 1955 until 1970. She was a senior sponsor from 1960 until 1970. In 1970, she transferred to Brookhaven High School and remained there until her retirement in 1990. After her retirement, she stayed active in her church, the Rood Share Project, attending painting and computer classes.
Her great love of her church — Ebenezer A.M.E. Church — was truly exemplified by her involvement. She was an usher, financial secretary, Sunday School teacher, trustee, steward, YPD director and held membership in the Florence Smith Missionary Society.
She believed in empowering young ladies to be successful, especially during their transition from high school to post-secondary education or the world of work.
Mamie Dickey Sanders
Class of ‘54
Born the seventh of nine children to the late Eddie Sr. and Lelar Dickey, Mamie Dickey Sanders graduated from Alexander High School in the Class of 1954. Mention her name and all across the state of Mississippi automatically knew the “Phenomenal Woman of Basketball” from Alexander.
After graduating she attended Mississippi Industrial College continuing her basketball career. There she also received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. She would later receive her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Jackson State University. Post-graduate studies were at Mount Mary College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Mamie’s 34-year teaching and coaching career began at North Calhoun County High School from 1960-1974. Returning home, she continued to work in education where she spent 19 years with the Brookhaven Public School System.
Her love for Alexander High School led to her active participation in helping many years to formulate the Alexander School Reunions. There she served in the financial capacity as Treasurer. Mamie was an active force in the Teacher’s Retirement Association of Lincoln County, Mississippi Association of Education, and National Educators Association. No election was complete if Mamie was not present and active at the Electoral Polls. Her love for her church was exemplified in the many duties she lovingly fulfilled.
She loved to travel to visit relatives across the country such as California, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota.
Mamie and her late husband, J. C. Sanders, were the proud parents of one child and one grandchild.
Carroll Oswa “C. 0.” Tanner
Class of ‘39
Carroll Oswa “C. 0.” Tanner, a highly respected coach for 36 years, was born to the late Cleveland and Lecella Cooper Tanner, of Copiah County, in 1914. A graduate from Alexander High School,Tanner was a member of the Class of 1939 as he gained all-state honors in basketball. He later lettered in basketball at Alcorn State University, where he served as class president before graduating in 1953. He went on to receive a teaching degree from Tougaloo College. Post-graduate studies were completed at the University of Illinois.
Before beginning his long distinguished 34-year association as coach and teacher at Alexander, he spent one year coaching in Hazlehurst and one year at Charleston.
His coaching credentials are impeccable. His first coaching job at Alexander was as a football coach (1943-57). His football teams won 135 games and only lost 43 games. Those same teams also won five Negro Big-8 Championships and eight State Bowls.
His basketball teams had a 575 to 175 win/lost record with 15 district championships, 12 South Mississippi championships, 13 Big-8 Champ runner-ups, and two Big-8 championships.
As a track coach, his teams won 12 state track championships (eight of which were consecutive 1944-51).
Being a man with great classroom skills, Tanner was always one that demanded students do their best. He taught math and Mississippi history for 36 years.
Tanner served as director of the Buchanan Swimming Pool, working for the Brookhaven Recreation Department. As an Instructor, Tanner taught more than 1,000 children to swim —21 of those were under 4 years old.
His honors and accolades are very numerous, but he was most proud of being selected Teacher of the Year (1971) and Coach of the Year (1945). In coaching organizations, he was Magnolia Activities Association President (1965-70), representative to National Basketball Association (1951-60), and chair of basketball in the Mississippi Teachers Association. Besides producing championship and all-star teams, he headed many clinics in football and basketball. He organized the first Board of Officials for Blacks. He also served on the board of trustees at Kynette United Methodist Church.
He and his wife Annie are the parents of five boys, two girls, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Margaret “Ann” Billups Thomas
Class of ‘58
Margaret “Ann” Billups Thomas capped her 36-year career in public education. Growing up in Brookhaven, the daughter of Robert and Rosa Lee Billups, she attended Alexander High School, graduating in the Class of 1958. She furthered her education and graduated from Los Angeles City College in 1960 with an associate degree and excelled in academics. She received a bachelor of science degree from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1963. She began her career as a teacher in 1963. She has completed additional studies toward a naster’s degree at California Lutheran College.
Her educational mission was devoted to improving the betterment of young individuals. Believing that the best way to solve a problem is to face it head-on, Thomas has been able to persevere, working her way up through the ranks — teacher, reading specialist, assistant principal, principal, and coordinator Title I of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She has also been the supervisor of student teachers for National University.
As a devout Christian, Thomas is a faithful member of Park Hills Community Church in Deer Park, where she is involved in various organizations. She has represented the church at many conferences and is a member of the Women’s Ministry, deacon, elder, Sunday School teacher and the Church Advisory Consistory Board, and is currently a church elder.
As a community leader, she served on various boards and leadership committees. She is a member of AARP and the Tee Divas Gold Club. She has received the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Lifetime Membership Award and the Beethoven Elementary School — Rookie Principal of the Year Award.
The mother of one son, since her retirement Thomas serves as National University for Principal Candidates and Los Angeles County Educational Supervisor for Principals.
Pertis H. Williams Jr.
Class of ‘66
Pertis H. Williams Jr. holds the distinction of being one of the first black men ever to be elected to public office in Brookhaven. He and two other African Americans were the first to be elected to the Brookhaven Board of Alderman in 1977. This historically significant event afforded him the opportunity to become the first African American person to ever represent people of Ward Three in the City of Brookhaven.
He was born in Brookhaven on Dec. 18, 1948. He was the only son of Pertis H. Williams Sr. and Beulah Ann Husband Williams, the third child in a family of three girls and one boy.
He was educated in the Brookhaven Public School System and attended Alexander High School, but he spent his senior year with his grandparents in Lansing, Michigan. Thus, he graduated in 1966 from J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing. Upon completing high school, he entered Alcorn State University where he matriculated for four years, earning a bachelor of science Degree in biology in 1970. While at ASU, he was a very proud member of the Alcorn Braves Football Team and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He gave tremendous support and resources to these two entities through his lifetime.
After graduating from Alcorn, He attended Gupton-Jones School of Mortuary Science in Atlanta, where he earned a degree in the mortuary sciences and restorative arts. Upon completion of his studies, he returned to Brookhaven to share the management of Williams Mortuary with his mother.
He lived only a very short 34 years, but his accomplishments, contributions, awards and rewards were many. He was probably most proud that he served of this community as president of the Lincoln County Branch of the NAACP for several terms and an active member of the Lincoln County Alcorn State University Alumni Association and Booster Club. He was a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church and served on the steward and trustee boards. He also held membership in the Bethel A.M.E. Choir.
He held membership in numerous organizations, such as The Mississippi Funeral Director and Mortician Association, the National Funeral Director and Mortician Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He served as advisor to the Martin Luther King Foundation and the Boy Scouts of America. He also was a member of the Masons and the Elks. He was a licensed bail bondman, he worked untiringly in this community to give his best to the people he served.
He was united in marriage with Pinkie Hughes Williams and to this union a son and a daughter was born. He also had three sons from a previous marriage.
Bobbie Baker Wilson-Moore
Class of ‘65
Always one with a keen eye for fashion and very aggressive academically, Bobbie Baker Wilson-Moore is the sixth child born to the late John and Myrtis Baker. She always has a big smile and very positive “I can do that…” attitude every time you meet her.
She graduated with honors from Alexander High School in 1965. Despite a heavy academic schedule, she still found time to excel in choir, drama, cheerleading, basketball and debate team. She also was a 1965 debutante, for which she found time to design and sew her own formal gown.
From September 1965 to January 1966, she attended Alcorn State University on a home economics scholarship. She then transferred to Jackson State University and changed her major to accounting. While attending JSU, she married and was mother to two children all while being a full-time student and part-time employee at South Central Bell Telephone Company. Opportunity presented for her to leave Bell and accept a full-time position at Blue Cross-Blue Shield allowing her the time to attend college to complete her degree. In 1971, she was awarded a bachelor of science degree with honors in accounting.
After graduation, Wilson-Moore continued at Blue Cross-Blue Shield with a promotion to auditor of state nursing homes until 1974. She then went to Allstate Insurance Company in Jackson until September 1996. That year she was transferred to Allstate’s Illinois office in Northbrook, working there until her retirement in May 31, 2006. While at Allstate, she held various positions including division supervisor, training specialist, project manager, team leader and consultant.
Besides many high school and college accolades, she received many professional awards during her illustrious career in the insurance industry. She is most proud of receiving the Allstate Good Hands Award and Most Valuable Player Underwriter Project Award.
Her professional skills and duties were most valuable in her community activities. She is a member of Pearl Street A.M.E. Church in Jackson, several book clubs and a dance troupe that entertains nursing home residents. She’s a strong health and fitness advocate and an avid traveler and gardener.