Opp HOF to induct Cook, Sorrells

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Opp Hall of Fame will add two new names to its list of inductees at the annual Chamber Banquet Thurs., May 8 at First Baptist Church.



Willie Foster Cook and Junior Harold Sorrells will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for their contributions to the betterment of the Opp community, which have been numerous and spread out over lifetimes of service.

Cook, an Ozark native who moved to Opp with his family as a boy, graduated from Opp High School in 1951 before serving in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict.

Following his time in the Navy, Cook returned to Opp, where worked in the Micolas Mill while attending Troy State College.

After earning his teaching certificate, Cook went on to spend several years as the manager of the Opp-Micolas Credit Union, and to this day, is credited with much of its continued success.

Cook eventually entered the teaching profession as part of the Opp City School system, where he worked at South Highlands Elementary School. Cook later moved to Opp High School, where he served as coordinator of trade and industrial education until his retirement in 1995.0426 Sorrells

Although his time working for the school system had ended, his time volunteering with it had not. A former Bobcat football player himself, Cook spent 35 years as the voice of the Opp Bobcats, announcing football games at Channel-Lee Stadium until 2002.

According to information provided by the Opp and Covington County Area Chamber of Commerce, Cook’s unwavering dedication to his community makes him a perfect candidate for the Opp Hall of Fame.

“Willie has always been involved in community activities and is dedicated to the well being-of Opp,” officials said.

“His unselfish service over the years has been a direct reflection of his philosophy that we should all give something back. This is evidenced by his willingness to serve, whether with young people or local community members. Willie represents the best of Opp.”

Cook is married to the former Betty Jo Wilkerson. The couple has four children, Debbie, Danny, Donna and Dennis.

Also being inducted at this year’s banquet is Junior Harold Sorrells, a local business owner who also served on various community boards and committees.

Sorrells graduated from Opp High School in 1955 and spent four years in the United States Navy before deciding to return home to Opp and open a trucking company. Sorrells purchased his first truck in 1959 and started J.H. Sorrells, Inc., a trucking company that would come to be known and respected across the country.

In the early 1960s, Sorrells turned down an opportunity to relocate his company to Birmingham, in favor of retaining Opp as its home base.

“He made the decision to stay in Opp and to honor his commitment to his local employees,” chamber officials said in a statement. “His decision to keep the doors of his business open in Opp has proven to be a wise one. His company grew the employee base and increased the number of trailers and trucks on the road. His trucks traveled from coast to coast boldly advertising Opp, Alabama as the home of MSJ Trucking.”

And Sorrell’s expertise in the trucking business did not go unnoticed statewide. In 1992, he was appointed to Deaton Truck Lines Board of Directors. In 2004, he was chosen as chairman of the Board of the Alabama Trucking Association (ATA), a high honor in Alabama’s trucking industry.

But Sorrell’s service did not stop with the trucking industry. He served on the Opp Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 16 years, including at least one term as president. An active member of Opp’s Rotary Club, Sorrells was named the club’s Paul Harris Fellow in 1995. In 1990, Sorrells was named to the Mizell Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, where he served as chairman for eight years.

Sorrells is also a member of First Baptist Church in Opp, where he has served as a deacon since 1981. He has also served many years on the Covington County Economic Development Commission, and on the Alabama Ethics Commission for five years, chairing the panel during his final year in 2004.

“Through Harold‘s willingness to serve in all these capacities, he constantly promotes Opp and its citizens,” chamber officials said. “By his service, he has contributed and continues to contribute to the betterment and fame of Opp. Although his list of leadership roles in the areas of civic, community, church and state service is impressive, the most impressive attribute is his personal character and values. There is no doubt that his public contributions to the community pale in comparison to the private and anonymous assistance he has provided Opp families, community organizations and church ministries over the years.”

Sorrells is married to the former Jeanette McCullough. The couple has three daughters, Melissa S Mims, Susan S. Hubbard and Julie S. Moody.

The awards for Spirit of Opportunity, Business of the Year, and One of Opp’s Own will also be awarded during this year’s banquet. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Opp

Chamber of Commerce. The banquet will begin at 7 p.m. For more information, call 334.493.3070.