Opp HOF to honor Jones, Winston

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 26, 2012

For the first time since 2008, the Opp and Coving-ton County Chamber of Commerce will induct two into the Hall of Fame.

One was instrumental in expanding education for black students during segregation, the other was a mayor who helped change the financial outlook of the city.

This year’s inductees are Fletcher Franklin Jones and Thomas Pelham Winston.

Jones was born near Rose Hill on June 4, 1895, to Henry Jones and Callie Roussea Jones.

Jones often remarked that the “good old days” were not so good and Americans who never experienced these hard times didn’t know how good they had it.

Jones married Sarah Comer when he was 17. The couple had two sons – Percy and Henry Hubert. Later a granddaughter, Margaret Louise Jones, came to live with them.

The family moved to Opp in 1919, where Jones worked at Benton Mercantile Co., and literally helped to build Opp by laying bricks for the First National Bank and many other buildings. He accepted a job at the bank in 1955, where he worked until his retirement in 1992 at 97.

Jones married again in 1936. His new wife, Alice Leslie, had two children, and the two families became one.

Jones was known for his love for young people and wanted them to be successful. He was well known and respected in both the black and white communities. He believed in education, and it was his passion. He was appointed by Opp City School superintendent and principal Dr. H.N. Lee to recruit teachers.

In 1938, Jones asked Lee to enlarge the black school and expand it past the sixth grade. He was told there was not enough money for the expansion. Jones approached county superintendent E.B. Norton, who agreed that if the city of Opp would turn over the black school, the county would bus the students to the county high school. Jones purchased a truck and paid for the operating expenses until 1952.

Jones passed away Feb. 25, 1995. He was 99.

Winston was born Feb. 7, 1882, in Chambers County to Thomas Harris and Sarah Shealey Winston.

He went to school in Auburn and attended Alabama Polytechnic University.

He moved to Opp in 1901, and was involved in real estate, while working with the firm of Winston Brothers building contractors.

He married Birdie G. McFerrin in 1906. Ten years later, he became a self-employed contractor until 1924, when he partnered with MB Knowles, and established Opp Building and Supply Co.

He built the First Methodist and First Baptist Church in the mid-1920s.

He was known for his unique features and premium materials.

He served as a deacon, elder and teacher at the Church of Christ, was a member of the Masonic Lodge, the order of the Eastern Star and was an honorary member of the Opp Rotary Club.

Winston served on the city council for eight years, followed by Opp mayor for 12 years.

When Winston became mayor, the city had no financial credit and owed money that was past-due.

Winston paid $4,000 of his own money to get the city back on track. He also secured WPA funds to build the municipal building.

He sold Opp Building and Supply to John and Joseph Breedlove in 1948.

He passed away March 1, 1949.

The two will be honored at the Chamber of Commerce banquet and Hall of Fame induction on May 10 at 7 p.m. at the FBC Fellowship Hall.

To purchase a ticket, call 493-3070. Tickets are $15.