4 outstanding grads to be honored

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Four alumni of Andalusia High School will be recognized as outstanding graduates in a city hall ceremony immediately following the homecoming parade this Friday.

The AHS Outstanding Graduate Committee selected the honorees last spring based upon nominations the committee received. The committee seeks to honor those whose personal lives, professional accomplishments and community service exemplify the ideals of Andalusia High School.

Paula Sue Cook Duebelt (1965) will become the first woman to receive the recognition. She is joined by Mayor Earl Johnson (1965), Edward Neil Henderson (1939) and Sidney Waits (1942).


Paula Sue Cook Duebelt

Class of 1965

Duebelt has spent most of her career at her alma mater, teaching and directing the chorus full time from 1978 until 2008. In 2010, she returned to AHS part time.

“By sharing her incredible musical abilities and love of the arts, Mrs. Duebelt continues to make positive and lasting impressions on countless lives, including students, parents and fellow citizens,” wrote her nominator and classmate, Sheila Williams.

She also has contributed to the arts as a performer in and director of numerous community productions. She is past president of the Lower Alabama Arts Coalition.

Duebelt earned a bachelor of music degree from Youngstown State University in 1971, and a master of science in education from Troy University in 1986.

She has been the choir director of First United Methodist Church of Andalusia for more than 27 years.


Edward Neil Henderson

Class of 1939

Henderson was valedictorian of his class and a four-sport letterman. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Auburn University in 1943, and spent four-and-a-half years in the Army engineers, including time in the Philippines and Japan.

After World War II, he returned to Auburn, and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1947. He joined Arkla (now CenterPoint Energy, Inc.) as a management trainee in 1947, and retired as an executive vice president in 1985. He was instrumental in the company’s diversification into the manufacturing of gas, air conditioning, lights, grills, cement, plywood and chemical fertilizer.

He founded the Southern Gas Association Research Council in 1952 and served as its chairman for 22 years. In 1964, he made a presentation to the international Gas Union at The Hague.

He has been very active in the civic and social life of Shreveport, La., where he makes his home. He has served as an elder, president of the board of trustees and chairman of many committees in the Presbyterian Church, and served six years on the General Executive Board of the Presbyterian Church United States.

He was nominated by Laura Morrow of Shreveport.


Earl V. Johnson

Class of 1965

Johnson was recognized for being “creative, innovative and dedicated to the improvement and development of the City of Andalusia and the Andalusia City Schools system,” as his high school classmate, Jim Krudop, wrote in his nomination. “He dearly loves his hometown and high school and continues to work diligently to maintain our wonderful heritage while promoting a prosperous future.”

Johnson attended Auburn University and Troy University, where he heard a B.S. degree in economics and business administration in 1970. He later earned a juris doctorate from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

He has practiced law in Andalusia since 1974, and has three times been elected mayor, in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

He has been active in numerous civic endeavors in Andalusia, and in Troy University alumni affairs. He serves as a member of the Troy University Foundation board of directors and was the founding president of the Troy Shield Society.

He also is a board member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

His nomination received 19 letters of support.


Sidney Waits

AHS Class of 1942

Waits was lauded for his work in preserving the history of the Andalusia area, specifically in acquiring items of historical significance for the East Three Notch Museum.

His work with local legislators and the railroad resulted in the gift of the Central of Georgia Depot, which houses the museum, as well as two boxcars, cabooses and a small motor car. He also negotiated the River Falls Post Office building, the Clark family log cabin, the Ard crib and the H.B. Little Country Store.

Waits also has documented the area’s history with his publications, which include, “From the Halls of Montezuma,” “The Three Notch Road Across Covington County,” “When the Builders Came,” and “E.L More and His River Falls Power Company.” Waits also co-authored “Mysteries of the Montezuma Village.”

He also has published several genealogies, and he and his wife, Polly, indexed the Magnolia Cemetery and published a detailed inventory of it.

He was nominated by Suan Riley Salter.


The outstanding graduate award was established by the Class of 1948 Foundation to recognize graduates of Andalusia High School and Woodson High School, who have distinguished themselves by service to the nation, state, Armed Forces or charitable organizations or by outstanding achievements in professional endeavors.