Induction banquet held for inaugural class of Warner Robins Hall of Fame

Sun News correspondentOctober 24, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue called the Warner Robins Hall of Fame’s seven-member inaugural class a group of pioneers who were willing to take risks, lead not looking for credit and do the right thing.

Perdue made the remarks Saturday as the seven were honored and inducted into the hall of fame at the first-ever Warner Robins Hall of Fame induction banquet.

Saying he was a “born-and-raised here” Houston County native himself, Perdue said the inductees played major roles in shaping Warner Robins and the county into what they are today.

Perdue said he knew or had known five of the seven inductees personally.

“I’m a recipient of the efforts of those we are honoring,” he said. “These were not people looking for credit. They were no superstars with a banner out leading the parade. They quietly led and did the right thing for the benefit of all.”

Briefly mentioning each of the seven inductees, Perdue spoke of the history of Warner Robins and Houston County and of the “intertwined role” each of the inductees played.

He said educators David A. Perdue, Gov. Perdue’s uncle, and Pearl Stevens both had a commitment to students, their community and to doing the right thing despite the cost. He said their efforts during the turbulent years of integration left the school system better off rather than worse.

He said risks taken by businessmen such as Charlie Williams were necessary for the young city and were required by its military neighbor, Robins Air Force Base. He said work done by Nick Lazaros, long-time magistrate court judge, set the stage and tone for quality “people’s courts” all across the state.

Perdue praised Frank Ryals for unparalleled work in the nonprofit, charitable sector and for his work serving “the least of these.” He spoke of Warner Robins’ first fire chief, Ernest W. Wood, as an example for other public servants to follow.

Perdue called all the inductees pioneers but particularly Henrietta McIntyre who moved to Warner Robins in 1944 and began a life of service to the community at almost every level, from little league sports to mayor.

“She and I came here at about the same time,” Perdue said. “But she was older than me. The difference is she moved here in 1944 with clothes on, and I arrived naked in 1946.”

Calling Warner Robins a young city made up largely of immigrants plus a few natives from the days when the community was called Wellston, Perdue said the seven being honored were good representatives of the many who built the town and its reputation.

“People came and stayed and became one of us,” he said. “(They created) a place renowned and acclaimed as one of the best places to raise a family. I’d rather be known for that than for any other thing.”

The idea for the Warner Robins Hall of Fame came from Mayor Chuck Shaheen one year ago. On Saturday, he commended the hall of fame’s board for their efforts and role in selecting the first class of inductees.

Individual inductees and their accomplishments were highlighted during the ceremony, and they or their families received hall of fame awards.

The evening’s seven honored inductees were: former Warner Robins Mayor Henrietta McIntyre; educator and activist Pearl Stephens; former Magistrate Court Judge Nick Lazaros; former Houston County schools Superintendent David Perdue; former Happy Hour Service Center President Frank Ryals; businessman Charles Williams; and former Fire Chief Ernest W. Wood.

Hall of fame board chairman Yvonne Elliot said 216-plus people attended Saturday’s banquet.

Hall of fame board member Jack O. Davis, who served as the banquet’s master of ceremonies, said five new inductees will be selected next year.

To be nominated to the hall of fame, nominees must be age 21 or older, have made a positive impact on the Warner Robins community, and be highly nominated and fit into the category of sports, community service/military, education, fine arts/entertainment or religion. They must have been a resident of Warner Robins at the time of their noted impact on the community

Persons nominating individuals for the hall of fame must have proof of the nominee’s accomplishments and must themselves reside in Warner Robins.

Information on the Warner Robins Hall of Fame, full nomination criteria and forms are available at www.wrhalloffame.org.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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