Remember When: Andalusia High School Heritage Room history

Published 3:00 pm Friday, October 4, 2019

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The Andalusia High School Heritage Room was established with the beginnings of a memorabilia collection in the possession of Mr. Joseph C. Wingard (Joe), teacher of English at the Andalusia High School for 39 years. Through the years of teaching in the same classroom #35 in the jr. high school annex, Wingard accumulated many “artifacts” in his files from 1966-67 through his retirement in the 2005-6 school year from the city school system.

Wingard had been the founding president of the Covington Historical Society which organization converted and restored the old Central of Georgia train depot to the Three Notch Museum one block south of East Three Notch Street on the corner of what is now known as Historic Central and Tisdale Streets.

Because of Wingard’s appreciation of Andalusia High School’s rich tradition and history, this passion led to the establishment of the first AHS Heritage Room in 1966 which was originally located in the jr. high annex building in a small room formerly used for board of education meetings.

When the school was preparing to celebrate its centennial, 1999-2004, and the 100th anniversary of its first graduating class in 1904, Wingard began pushing for a newer, larger, and more accessible Heritage Room. That is when the AHS Class of 1948 became involved.

Suan Riley Salter, 1948 class member and retired teacher from the East Three Notch Elementary School, approached AHS Principal Pete Kelley with the idea and spearheaded the establishment of a new Heritage Room to house Wingard’s collections and to continue the collection of additional artifacts and mementoes.

Salter’s good friend, Esther Jacobs Barrow, was the wife of 1948 graduate Mayor Benny Barrow, and a retired teacher at the Church Street Elementary School. Barrow had learned a lot about archiving materials in her classroom so together they drew up the plan for a state-of-the-art heritage room. Kelley set aside Room 1 in the “Old Main” for the new room, and the task began.

Salter and Barrow approached another 1948 classmate, alumnus W. Robert (Bob) Brown, a retired Houston attorney, for his ideas and assistance. Gradually other class members got behind the project financially and otherwise including Bill Petty, Dr. Allen Jones, Ellen Flinn, Hazel Jordan, and Janette Burke Carroll.

Salter recalls that school maintenance personnel at AHS, Tommy Hughes, Keith Hines, and Ray Phillips put many hours into doing the sanding, painting, and building cabinets for the room which were created in the Phillips Cabinet Shop. Blake Barton, a recent former student body president, put dozens of hours into the converting of the classroom to an excellent place to preserve AHS’s history.

Suan Salter and Esther Barrow both donated hundreds of hours sorting, filing, decorating, framing, and displaying cheerleader, football, basketball, and band uniforms, diplomas, scrapbooks, board of education pictures, Memolusia yearbooks, and other vintage items which are sure to be preserved for posterity. A magnificent scrapbook designed by Suan Salter which outlines and records the history of the Heritage Room project can be viewed today in the Heritage Room.

Bob Brown, the major benefactor of the new Heritage Room,” according to Wingard in an October 19, 2002 Andalusia Star News article, “not only put up most of the money for the room but has also has donated thousands of dollars in the past to school projects, more than any other graduate of AHS.”

Salter states that “Other businesses in town and generous individuals donated towards the project.”

The dedication of the Heritage Room took place in October 2002 during the homecoming assembly.

Back in 1992, members of the Class of 1948 had collaborated to establish a foundation, the idea of W. Robert Brown.  This foundation board, the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation, continues to meet annually in the spring awarding renewable scholarships to AHS graduates, study-abroad scholarships, and awards recognizing outstanding AHS alumni which was added around 2008. Alumni Robert Brown and the late Murray Findley generously participated in these significant scholarships awarded which serve to broaden the horizons and enrich the lives of the recipients. To date, the scholarships have totaled more than $210,000, plus $200,000, in study-abroad scholarships.

Establishing the Class of 1948 Foundation in 1992 included Superintendent David Brantley, W. Robert Brown, Gene Sutton, Dr. Allen Jones, Bill Petty, Murray Findley, Benny Barrow, Sammy Glover, John Rudolph Bray, Dr. Walter Carroll Ray, Mildred Wood Cook, Hazel Jordan, Ellen Flinn, and Suan Riley Salter.

At some point, the Class of 1961 took on a big role with the foundation led by the late Attorney Ab Powell who was a long-time friend of Attorney Brown. Those class members who have worked with the foundation include Powell, Norma Jackson, Harvey “Pete” Donaldson, Margo Russell, Melissa Merrill Gambill, Linda Bishop Brent, Mickey Johnson, Pat Rawls Barton, Bobbie Hughes Nichols, and Linda Harrison Wiggins.

Current AHS Scholarship Foundation Board members include Chairman Richard Anthony, Chairman Emeritus W. Robert Brown, Tom Albritton, Merle Findley Bass, Ivan Bishop, Rudy Bray, Linda Bishop Brent, Janette Carroll, Anna Copeland, Harvey “Pete” Donaldson, Ellen Flinn, Melissa Gambill, Michele Gerlach, Charles Grantham, Norma Jackson, Earl Johnson, Mickey Johnson, Michael L. Jones, Hazel Jordan, Timothy Kay, Dr. Bill King, Dr. Jim Krudop, John Northrop, Cara Russell, Suan Salter, John Thompson, Doris Tyler, John Vick, Ted Watson, Dr. Mike Wells, Greg White, and Shelia Williams.

A picture of the graduating class of 1948 hangs in the Heritage Room along with a picture of Brown and Wingard.

Suan Salter states in a message to the current curator, “I wish you all well with the Heritage Room and especially in maintaining it. The Class of 1948 feels much pride in helping to establish it. Many of us no longer reside in Andalusia and cannot give it regular care.”

Remember When teacher Mr. Wingard stated in his homeroom each morning for 39 years, “Good morning, students……….The thought for the day is ……….”  Well, here is the “thought for today” from this writer – There is a grand Heritage Room at AHS that the alumni, former teachers, and students alike can take pride in. The facility can be viewed at homecoming each year and at other times by appointment.  It can be used for research as needed and for reminiscing about  old times in the halls of ivy. Any help to maintain it will be appreciated, because donations of artifacts continue to arrive. The wish of the founders is that the room’s treasures will continue to tell the story of the over one hundred year old institution of higher learning in Andalusia carrying on the rich traditions of AHS.  “Through the years, dear Alma Mater, this shall be our aim, always ever to endeavor to honor thy fair name.” 

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at      


Items in the Andalusia High School Heritage room.
Courtesy Photos