- Cullman, Alabama

December 22, 2013

Looking back for future inspiration

The Cullman Times

— The Times embarked on its annual countdown of top stories of the year with Saturday’s article remembering three highly motivated, influential citizens of Cullman County who passed away.

Chester Freeman, an active member of the Cullman Lions Club and the inspiration for much of the city’s nationally recognized parks and recreation program, died early in the year at the age of 90.

Remembered as an unselfish community leader, never seeking the limelight, Freeman was the kind of person people listened to. He had vision, insight and a sincere desire to make his home area a top-notch community.

Key educators were also passed away in 2013, including Dr. James C. Bailey, who served as president of Wallace State Community College for 32 years and devoted his life to education. He was an avid supporter and promoter of Cullman County and a long standing member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Bailey oversaw the college’s initial SACS accreditation, was a major supporter of the $12 million Tom Drake Coliseum built in 1993, and eventually had the 13-story James C. Bailey Building named in his honor.

Dr. Ben Johnson, the man who served as the first president of what would become Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, passed away in November. In 1965, the Alabama State Board of Education appointed Johnson as director of what was then called the George C. Wallace State Trade School of Cullman County. That was two years after the State Legislature approved the school’s formation and a year before the first classes were held.

While many in the community are looking back and remembering these men and their efforts, each one of them became successful because they looked forward.

The end of a year often is a time of reflection. But as a new year approaches, look back with pride and inspiration for those who served so willingly for Cullman County. Follow their lead and look forward with the same passion and vision they held and our area will continue to grow and maintain its character.