Honorees credit successes to early lessons

Published 3:32 am Saturday, October 13, 2018

Graduate Award attributed their successes to foundations learned from their parents and teachers growing up in Andalusia.

Honored Friday were John Anderson Sr., Dr. Bill Cumbie, Michael Hartwell, John Northrop, and Nathaniel “Buddy” Waller.

Evelyn Anderson, who also is an AHS graduate, accepted for her late husband (Class of 1953), who enjoyed a successful agribusiness career. Andalusia High School students were well prepared for college, she said, adding that in her husband’s first term at Auburn, the chemistry professor asked him and classmate Ed Henderson to remain after class after scoring their first exams.

The two freshmen weren’t sure if they were in trouble.

“He asked them where they went to high school,” she said. “When they answered ‘Andalusia,’ the professor said, ‘I thought I recognized James Arthur Wilson’s work.’ ”

Cumbie (Class of 1967) said he was particularly influenced by his parents, and by AHS teachers Patricia Seymour and Jim Nettles.

“When asked where I grew up, it is always with great pride that I say Andalusia, Ala.,” he said.

Hartwell (Woodson, Class of 1967), a physicist who was involved in cutting edge civilian research before returning to Alabama to work at Redstone Arsenal, was unable to attend the ceremony.

“Andalusia is my bedrock foundation for a better life than I ever thought possible,” Northrop (Class of 1968), who had successful careers in journalism and education administration, said. “I learned a few things. No 1 is that every personal success is a product. Not one achieves anything of value on own.”

Northrop said he bugged Curtis Thomasson, then the AHS yearbook sponsor, to allow him to be a photographer. That high school experience led to his first career.

Waller (Class of 1972) said he learned business principles from his father, who owned a service station. Work ethic, integrity, and civility in business are most important, he said.

Waller is an electrical engineer who said he got his big break while employed at GE.

“My manager happened to be from Red Oak,” he said. Waller was competing against a fellow employee from New Orleans for a role in a five-year project developing a new class ships for the Navy.

The supervisor told him, “Since you were from Andalusia, I thought you would have a better work ethic.”

Waller later left GE and started an international business.

The Andalusia High School Outstanding Graduate Award was established in 2007 by the Class of 1948 Foundation, now the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation. The award is designed to honor those graduates of Andalusia High School, Woodson High School and Ralph Bunche High School whose personal lives, professional accomplishments and community service exemplify the ideals of Andalusia High School.