Warner Robins Hall of Fame to induct 6 new members

jmink@macon.comOctober 13, 2013 

Editor's note: Since this story was published, the government has reopened, and the Warner Robins Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at the Museum of Aviation

WARNER ROBINS -- There’s a mayor and a Boy Scout leader. A T-ball legend and a Rotary Club founder. The man who was on the forefront of local desegregation and the man behind the 21st Century Partnership.

It’s a diverse group of inductees this year for the Warner Robins Hall of Fame, and choosing the honorees is far from an easy task, board members say. Now, those names will be etched officially in the history of Warner Robins when the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held Saturday.

The event has been scheduled to take place at the Museum of Aviation, but after the federal government shutdown forced the museum to temporarily close, officials were looking for another venue Friday afternoon. The Wellston Center was being considered as a back up venue.

Still, the induction ceremony will go on and honor six residents who have impacted the local community.

“They’re amazing people,” board Chairwoman Yvonne Elliott said of the inductees. “Some of them I knew and some of them I didn’t, but I’m impressed with every one of them.”

It’s the second year the young city has inducted members into its relatively new Hall of Fame, an idea that came from Mayor Chuck Shaheen, Elliott said, and has become a hit. Last year, there was barely enough room for banquet attendees, “which is a good problem to have,” Elliott said.

As board members received a plethora of nominations this year, they also decided to move the event to a bigger venue. Board members have been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who nominate citizens. The nominations are sent to a committee, which sifts through the applications and narrows the list.

“Then we vote on them and vote on them and vote on them until we have a consensus,” Elliott said. “And this year, we have six.”

Those six are:

• The Rev. Willie J. Johnson, who helped guide the city through desegregation. He founded the first Boy Scout troop for black boys in 1951.

• Claude Lewis brought T-ball to Warner Robins in 1958 and literally wrote the rules for the game. Also, he was the first leader of the Warner Robins Recreation Department and is a member of the Georgia Recreation and Park Hall of Fame.

• Charles R. Singleton, a member of the Boy Scouts of America 100th Anniversary National Hall of Leadership, was a Boy Scout leader for more than 45 years. Over those years, he mentored thousands of boys and helped 170 of them become Eagle Scouts.

• C.B. Watson was the first mayor of Warner Robins. He was appointed mayor in 1943 and led the city in that position until 1950.

• William Wisse helped charter the city’s first Rotary Club in 1956, becoming the club’s first president. In 2007 he received the Rotary’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

• Edward J. Wiggins was a founding member of the 21st Century Partnership, and he served as chairman for many years.

“We look at those folks that had a significant impact on the community of Warner Robins, those folks that have really, really contributed significantly,” said Randy Randall, a Hall of Fame board member and chairman of the Warner Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We feel ... that this class has certainly done that.”

While pulling off the ceremony is hard work, it’s significant for a community that was shaped by people such as the new inductees, Randall said.

“This is the right thing to do, to recognize people who have significantly contributed to the overall well-bring of this community,” he said. “In several cases, not only did they have an influence on Warner Robins, but they reached out to other regions.”

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased by calling the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce at 922-8585.

Sun News correspondent Alline Kent contributed to this article. To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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