Remembering Teachers

Teacher's Obits
Helen Long Cordell
Billy Bragg
Gift of Lessons
A Tribute
Tribute to Bernie
Graham Lowe
Annelle Stem


AHS Students and Teachers share their memories ...


*** 08/11/2011

Reminiscences of Joanne Simmons Smith, Class of 1958

... a Former A.H.S. Teacher 1973 - 1980


In 1973, I returned to Albany High School, this time as a teacher.  Several of the teachers who had been there when I graduated in 1958 were still on the faculty:  Mrs. Mary Futch (her son Henry was in the class of ’58), Ms. Frances Feagin, and Mrs. Norma Juhan.  They were wonderful to embrace me as a colleague and teach me the “ropes.”


Students really hadn’t changed that much in the decade and a half I had been away.  Boys did wear their hair longer, bellbottoms were in, and Haight-Ashbury had influenced the dress of some of the students.   There was racial diversity, but students did not view this as a detractor.  Students worked well together in both curricular and extracurricular activities. In fact, I never witnessed a fight or confrontation during my four years there.


Football was still king, with band coming in a close second.  The Pow Wow was still produced periodically and the Thronateeska annually provided the pictorial lives of students.  The arts flourished:  visual arts under the direction of Mrs. Carolyn Clive and the literary magazine under Ms. Feagin’s guidance.  Theatre had also gained importance, and one year we produced the musical, Oklahoma.


The last year I was there, I had the good fortune of moving into Mr. Billy Bragg’s room because I was one of the two sponsors of the yearbook; the other was Ms. Margaret Jo Hogg.  Mr. Bragg had been my junior and senior English teacher and had influenced my majoring in English.  I sometimes felt that he was looking over my shoulder as I taught The Scarlet Letter or explained the difference in a participle and a gerund.  I hope I made him proud!


Some of my fondest memories as a teacher stem from my years at Albany High School and Albany Junior High.  My one regret is that moving away from Albany in 1980 I didn’t have the opportunity to follow the lives of my students, many who may have stayed in the Albany area.


Norma Dunaway Juhan Spanish Teacher

*** 11/20/08

Mary Cagle Hopper, AHS Class of 1959:

Many thanks to Jane (Albriton) for forwarding this (article below) to me. For what it is worth, here is my memory and how Mrs. Juhan led me into the first phase of my career.  Now years later and living in a state that has a growing Hispanic population and having spent a major part of my travels in Latin America, I would like for her family to know once more how her legacy lives on by those of us who learned to love both the Spanish language and its myriad cultures.

Mrs. Juhan shaped my life in ways she never knew, since I went on to get a PhD in Romance Languages with a specialty in Mexican Literature from the U of Missouri-Columbia. Teaching college Spanish language and literature brought me to Charlotte 40+ years ago. In truth, I had really meant to take Latin but was lured into Mrs. Juhan's class by a huge standing fan on one of those fall days that masquerade as summer in South Ga.  I was happy to learn she had a long life filled with people who loved her and a host of us who will still remember her for shaping us.  

*** 11/19/08

“JIMMIE” - submitted by Jake Clancy ('52)

Mrs. Norma Dunaway Juhan (“Jimmie” to family) passed away on Sunday, 16 November, 2008 shortly after celebrating her 98th birthday on the 28th of October.  Many of you will remembers Mrs. Juhan as our Spanish and geometry teacher at AHS during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  For the last years of her life, Mrs. Juhan had resided at Morningside in Albany (1721 Beattie Road) where she enjoyed the loving care of the compassionate people who make up the staff there.   A number of people visited and showed their love for her over the years while she was at Morningside, including her grand-daughter Norma Hershey, Bob and Sue Fletcher, who were members of her church, and former students such as Nancy Reimer and others.  As an aside, Mrs. Helen Long (I believe she taught typing or something like that?) is 96 and resides at Morningside.  Mrs. Juhan will be put to rest at a later date in Adel, Georgia, where she spent many of her early years.                          


Mrs. Juhan was born in Americus on 28 October, 1910.  She graduated from George State College for Women at Milledgeville where she studies English and journalism.  Later she attended summer school sessions in Athens at the University of Georgia.  In her early career before coming to Albany, Mrs. Juhan taught at Sparks/Adel High School in Cook County, where she was in charge of the school newspaper called “The Sparkler,” and at Griffin High School, in Griffin, where she worked as faculty advisor to the school newspaper and was instrumental in raising money, through advertisements, to support it.


Although Mrs. Juhan had no children of her own, she had two step-children through her marriage to Stephen A. Juhan (21 December, 1938) who pre-deceased her by many years.  Her two step-children, Steve and  Bette Juhan Deener, are both deceased (Steve died in Albany in 1997).   Her grand-daughter, Norma Hershey, lives in Maryland.  A niece, Willa Olsen, lives in Malibu, California and grandson Ed Deener lives in Geneseo, Illinois.  


A number of former students and friends of Mrs. Juhan have warm memories of her:


Ralph Calhoun (’47):

I have eaten many meals at the Juhan home while I was in high school.  She was a good cook.  One of the funniest stories I know about them is cooking a duck.  For years they had gotten a duck  for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey.  She put it in the oven to cook as she had in the past and soon a horrible odor filled the house.  The duck had not been prepared properly and still had the intestines inside!


Frieda Howard Randles (’54):

I did not have Mrs. Juhan as a teacher, but I remember her well.  We went to her house one time when she had some little Chihuahua puppies and they were so cute!


Carleen Newell Flowers (’48):

I was a student of Mrs. Juhan and also taught with her at AHS for a year.  What a wonderful lady she was and is!  I have had the privilege of visiting with her at Morningside for a number of years.  When I was a junior in high school, Mrs. Juhan not only taught us Spanish but also geometry.  She was always so kind and caring of her students. 


Bill Seymour (’64):

I remember her as a teacher who loved what she did.  She always had a smile on her face and a kind word even when we would slaughter the Spanish language. I was in Mrs. Juhan’s senior Spanish class the day President Kennedy was shot … and she cried.


Jake Clancy (’52):

Mrs. Juhan was special.  She opened up the world to me.  She made me want to see what was over the next hill.  She gave me a love of languages and a strong desire to learn about and try to understand other cultures.


Teaching is a noble profession.  In our early years we learn from our parents and friends and in our school years we learn from our teachers.  Life itself is a continuing education.  Education forms us in EVERY aspect of our life, knowledge, beliefs, morals, etc.  Norma Dunaway Juhan was at the top of that group of elite.


Many thanks to Bob Fletcher and Ralph Calhoun for providing much of the above information


*** 08/07/08

My  Story … from Frances Feagin … AHS English Teacher


  In 1953 I came to Albany High School to teach EnglishMr. McNabb was my beloved principal.  His wife Betty asked me to be a Girl Scout leader my first year here.  Mr. Mc’s philosophy was that happy teachers make for a successful school.  AHS was successful.  Some of my contemporaries were Miss Thelma Plant Slappey, Mrs. Mabel Hogue, Mr. Billy Bragg, Miss Mary Hudson, and Mr. Graydon Pierce.  We all have our memories of people who contributed to AHS.


      During my years of teaching, I travelled during the summer months to Europe several times and in the U.S.A. plus doing graduate study at university of Georgia and Emory.  After retirement I worked just time in a bookstore.  It was a fun job.  Later I was caregiver for my parents who had come to make their home with me.  In 1994 I lost my home in the flood.  Many friends helped me through this loss.


      I reflect on my years at AHS as a wonderful time!  I loved the school, my leaders there, and teaching.  Today I am blessed to be in good health.  I live at Magnolia Manor Retirement Center in Americus and lead an active life.

NOTE: Frances Feagin died Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Thelma Plant

*** 04/08/08

Joan Hand (1961) Murphy: Have a story about Miss Plant for you.  Sitting here chuckling ... remembering a time I thought I was in big trouble with Miss Plant.  I was a member of the FHA and we sometimes had meetings at the school at night.  Mrs. Johnson, the Home Ec.
teacher, was the FHA advisor.

Smoking in the girls' bathrooms had become a big problem so Miss Plant had all the doors taken off the stalls and taken to one of the upstairs bathrooms.  She always wore flat shoes with soft soles and no one ever heard her coming until she was seen.

One FHA night we girls got to the school early and were talking about how embarrassing it was to be in the stalls with no doors and got the bright idea to put them back on.  We were so proud of ourselves when we were done.

I was sick the next day and when I got back to school, I was told that Miss Plant wanted to see me.  I went to her office with fear in my heart but she wanted me to work on a project for her.  We never heard a word about replacing the doors and she let them stay up!


*** 04/07/08

Joan Hand (1961) Murphy: When I was in 10th grade there was a serious family crisis and I got no sleep the night it happened.  Aunts had their hands full so sent my sister and I to school the next morning.  I got into homeroom and collapsed into tears.  The teacher sent me to the nurse that everyone called "Granny" and I told her what happened.  She put me to bed and contacted Miss Plant.  Miss Plant sat with me until I fell asleep, stroking my cheek and telling me everything was going to be alright.  I slept until the end of the school day and when I awakened, Granny told me that Miss Plant had been out to check on me multiple times during the day.

There are many things I have forgotten about high school but I will never forget the lady with the big heart who cared so much about all of her students.

Livy Beck

Hamilton Jordan (1962): Growing up in Albany in the 1950s, I would check our mailbox at 907 4th Avenue regularly at the end of the month in hopes of finding the family copy of The Reader's Digest and turn quickly to my favorite section, "My Most Unforgettable Character,” written by different people about great, not-so-great and even ordinary people who had made a memorable difference in someone’s life. 


      One wrote about visiting Dr. Albert Schweitzer in his African clinic where he lived and dispensed medical treatment to the locals, another about a favorite teacher who had inspired the gift of learning or a coach or war hero who had changed their lives.  I often wondered who would be my most unforgettable character in my life?  Where would I encounter him?  Maybe in New York?   Or Washington?  Or even on  foreign soil?


      Much later, I found my most unforgettable character – not half way around the world or even just across the country or state, but just down the street.  And it wasn't a “him” but a “her” – Olivia "Livy" Beck, the mother of Jay Beck, my best friend. 


      Mrs. Beck was a bundle of wonderful contradictions.  Raised a Southern lady, she was fast-talking with a high-pitched voice and a thick, syrupy drawl. 


     Although she was born in Atlanta, lived most of her life in South Georgia and was buried in Morgan, Georgia, she went to school in Washington, D.C., graduated from Parson’s and New York University where she studied art.


      Although a “young Southern lady” through and through and raised in the segregated South, she taught school in New York, taking the subway every day to Harlem where she taught art to black children.


      She married the love of her life, John Beck, in 1942 and moved to Albany, Georgia, where she taught school until she had her son, Jay.  Livy and John were married for fifty years until he passed away in 1992. 


       Mrs. Beck often said – after he was grown – that Jay was the “perfect son.”  Whenever she said this, Jay would counter that she had been “the perfect Mother.”  They were both right.


      Although she enjoyed a college education and was born to an Atlanta family of social prominence and wealth, there were no "little people" in Livy Beck’s world.  Every person was a child of God and deserving of love, respect and understanding.  Her heart poured out particularly to those who were poor and disadvantaged or had fallen on hard times.  When someone was down on their luck, sick or had an illness or death in their family, Livy Beck was the first one there with a big hug, words of advice and reassurance, a meal for the family or a beautiful floral arrangement.


       Because she loved life so much, I worried about Livy when her indomitable spirit collided with a very stubborn and aggressive cancer.  But I was wrong.  Mrs. Beck quickly dismissed chemotherapy as an artificial way to try to extend her already wonderful life.  She said she was "ready to die,” and she meant it.  Her only regret was leaving Jay.


       She spent her last days and weeks not fretting about herself but worried about the other people in her life, Jay, her extended family and friends, and her “best friend,” Ira Watkins, a wonderful old gentleman who had delivered her floral arrangements and helped around the house. 


      The last time I saw Mrs. Beck, she was in the hospital following a "bad spell" with her cancer.  Livy complained that her "dear nurses are keeping me alive when they could be helping really sick people."


       She was not one to leave anything to chance.  She met with her dear friend, Tony Haefs, Pastor of her beloved Gillionville Baptist Church several weeks ago to make plans.  Mrs. Beck made it plain that she wanted no “high-faluting,” expensive funeral but a short and dignified graveside service.  With her time drawing near, the good preacher advised that it would probably be very, very cold outside for those attending her graveside ceremony.  Livy responded, “It won’t be cold for me!”


       On Thanksgiving Day, after an enjoyable visit with Jay and family members, Livy exclaimed, “I didn’t know dying could be so easy!”  She died peacefully last Saturday – on Jay's birthday and was buried in Morgan, Georgia, alongside her beloved John.   (November 26, 2005)


       Olivia Beck taught us all how to live a good and unselfish life.  At the end, she showed us how to die with courage, grace and unqualified love for others.


     The mere mention of her name, “Livy Beck,” will always bring a smile to my face, followed by a  cascade of warm and wonderful memories of this  remarkable woman.  Livy Beck was easily the most unforgettable character in my life. 


Montine Martin

*** 05/27/03

Tonia Holland (1955) Helvik: Yvonne Horne was in our classes from the first grade to the 8th.  She sent me Miss Montine Martin's address.  The two of us, along with Barbara Hornsby, Marlene Kahn, Janice Hayes to name a few were in her 3rd grade class; also some of the boys were Sammy Futch, Jimmy Holloway, Ernest Frazier, Buddy Fleming and Bruce Jones. Miss Martin went to the 6th grade and taught at McIntosh, then she taught 7th grade at the old Jr. High.  She retired after teaching Albany Middle School, our old AHS.  Phoebe Putney now owns it.  Miss Martin lives at 14868 River Street, Blakely, GA 39823.  Phone No. is 229-723-3061.  She is 88 years old!  I have visited her and write and talk on the phone to her.  She is beautiful and sharp as a tack.  I love her!  Miss Martin asked about Mary Ann Thornton.  If anyone knows her whereabouts, please tell her to contact Miss Martin.  I have found a few "kids" for her!

(NOTE:  Miss Martin is now deceased)


Beverly Smith (1955)Herrington:  In the middle of 6th grade (November 1948), my family moved to Albany, GA from Jacksonville, FL  My heart was broken and I lived under a dark cloud of grief.  Into my life came Miss Montine Martin, who took me under her kind and understanding "wing" ... she did not push ... she just nourished ... and understood it would take TIME for me to heal!  And she had all the time in the world.  She helped me walk through that dark period ... and into the light!  I shall never forget this wonderful woman ... the kind and patient teacher ... a precious gift to me and the rest of my life!


Helen Long Cordell, Mrs. Thornton, Miss Ford, Miss Plant, Mr. Mac

*** 03/18/03

Harry Helton (1952):  Miss Long did not "teach" me in class, but she did make an impression on me.  She and Mrs. Thornton would gang up on me.  They were my buddies.  Mrs. Thornton looked out for me and Miss Long would be right there.  Miss Long, Mrs. Thornton and Miss Ford were my best teachers.  Miss Plant was fine but I did not get to know her until I came back to Albany with the YMCA.  Now, Mr. Rob started with me in the 6th grade.  He has always been a real FRIEND.  Mr. Mac was the boss and he and I got along well.  I wrote an article for the Pow-Wow and Miss Plant would not print it until Mr. Mac ok'ed it.  I spent the last half of 4th period, all of 5th period (was supposed to be in Mrs. Thornton's class) and half of 6th period in the office with Mr. Mac.  He did not ok the article. When I walked out of the office I ran into Mrs. Thornton.  "Why did you skip my class?", she asked.  I told her the story and she asked if she could read the article.  She got so interested that she asked if she could take it home and go over it with "Tom",  her husband.  The next day she got me off in a corner to give back my article.  She agreed with my article 100 %, but could not say a word.  This is the first time I have ever told anyone about that article.  My mother put it in the trash when I went into the army.  She saw no need to keep things like that.


The article was about the football players getting free passes for their parents.  A player's mother could get a free ticket but his father had to pay.  Charles Rice Hardin's mother passed away while he was in the 4th grade, and his father had to purchase a ticket every game.  My father had to buy a ticket for the few games I played in.  Now, my sister was a nurse for the Public Health Department.  She was given a ticket for both her AND her husband.  Ray Mock, my brother-in-law, was the vice president of the Bank of Albany and could well afford a ticket.  So could my sister.  But, what the heck, its free ... so take it. 


As Sports Editor of the Pow-Wow, my point was ... there were expenses for the football player and/or his family... someone had to pay for the boy to go to football camp.  If the player had a job, he had to get off from the job for football camp.  Back in those days the camp cost was, I believe, $25.00.  My sister paid that for me because my mother did not want me to play football.


I knew Miss Long through Mrs. Thornton, and I will bet you Mrs. Thornton talked discussed my article with Miss Long!  They were such great friends.  When you were around Mrs. Thornton you soon were around Miss Long.  

As long as I live I will never forget Miss Long the night Hambone had his accident.  There we were, filling up the lobby of the hospital, wanting to know how our friend was.  Miss Long, in her very calm voice said, "Boys and girls lets be quiet for a minute.  It is time now that we all pray. Please bow your heads."  And as we stood together there in the lobby, she gave one of the most impressive prayers I have ever heard.  Yes, Miss Long impacted my life and I will never forget her! 


Helen Long Cordell

*** 10/22/02

Tommy Pattison (1954): Thanks for sending me Carleen's Newell Flowers' email.  Helen Long Cordell was one of my favorite teachers, mainly because of her kindness and thoughtfulness towards others.  She and my Mother are good friends and I remember her even back in my very young years at First Baptist Church.  I had her for typing my senior year and I broke my right ring finger during that year and wore a tongue depressor splint.  Even though I could not type, I still passed with an A or B.  That's not why I like her so much though.  That is just the kind of lady she is.


*** 10/10/02

rememb1.jpg (13018 bytes)  Carleen Newell Flowers (1948): Dear Beverly, I am writing this on behalf of Helen Cordell. When I was reading the memories of teachers, I found your comments on several of the teachers including Helen. I printed out the comments and took them to her. She asked me to write you and thank you for your very kind words. Helen is now living at Morningside Assisted Living for she has developed Macular-degeneration and is no longer able to live alone. She is truly a very special lady and even though she has had to give up many things due to this condition, her sweet attitude has not changed.  She is presently living at Morningside Assisted Living in Albany GA.


Billy Bragg

*** 9/17/02

Percy Warren (1955): It was mid-October 1954, my senior year in high school. Somehow, I had made it this far, but I had a very poor foundation in English grammar. I knew it, but I had fooled most of my teachers. During class one day, my English teacher came to the back of the room and very discreetly bent over and whispered in my ear, "Percy, do you want to graduate?"  I responded, "Yes Sir."  And he said, "TWO classes a day."  I began two classes a day, and after 6 or 8 weeks, he again came to the back of the room and whispered, "ONE class a day.".......... And so I gained an expertise in grammar that I had not had before.


A few months removed from the classroom, I was attached to Attack Squadron 56 on board the USS Ticonderoga in the South Pacific. As a Yeoman, one of my duties was that of being a captain's writer. Can you imagine that? I was a writer for a full commander, Annapolis graduate, and I did all of his official correspondence. For over two years, I filled this role and was competent to excel because of my hero, Billy Bragg. I often think of this excellent teacher and the positive influence that he had on my life.

Oh how I would have loved to have had a Dell Computer with all the capabilities that are available now.  All we had were manual Underwood typewriters and onion-skin and carbon paper.  *** Percy Warren is now deceased


Back to Top