HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Referring to them as giants, Rep. Randall Shedd of Cullman presented resolutions to the families of the late Dr. Ben Johnson and the late Dr. James C. Bailey during the Christmas breakfast for faculty and staff of Wallace State Community College on Wednesday. Both men passed away this year.
Dr. Johnson served as the first president of what was then the George C. Wallace Trade School before becoming Wallace State Community College. Dr. Bailey followed Dr. Johnson, serving more than 30 years as the college president. Dr. Johnson, Shedd said, provided the foundation for the college, with Dr. Bailey literally building on that foundation.
“There’s an old saying about how farmers drive around their pastures counting their cattle, well Dr. Bailey drove around counting his buildings,” Shedd joked during the presentations.
Shedd said he was privileged to know both gentlemen, having had both men as teachers at Baileyton and Fairview schools when he was growing up.
As the first president of Wallace State, Shedd called Dr. Johnson a pioneer and visionary leader of what would become the Alabama Community College System. He helped in the initial development of curriculum standards for technical programs all over the state, not just in Cullman County.
Dr. Bailey was recognized for his determination to build Wallace State into what is now the crown jewel of the Alabama Community College System. He not only helped build the college, he worked tirelessly to bring jobs to Cullman County. “I remember him approaching Sam Walton about bringing one of his distribution centers to Cullman County,” Shedd said. “Dr. Bailey wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
He was especially proud of the college’s health programs, Shedd added. “I can hear him say, ‘Don’t forget to mention the health programs,’” he said. During his tenure, Wallace State became known as a leader in the field of health care education, offering more associate degree allied health programs than any other college in the state.
“I could go on for hours about these men,” Shedd said. “They were truly giants. We lost them both this year, but today let’s not be sad. Instead, let’s remember all of the good times.”
Representatives of both families were gifted with certificates from the Alabama House of Representatives honoring Dr. Johnson’s and Dr. Bailey’s legacy and contributions to Wallace State Community College and the State of Alabama.
Before leaving the stage, Shedd also expressed his thanks to Dr. Vicki Hawsey Karolewics, who has served as the president of Wallace State for more than 10 years.
“Dr. Vicki Karolewics has shown us that giants can be petite,” Shedd said. “Thank you for your work at Wallace state, for continuing the work of these two giants before you. Thank you for being the giant you are here at Wallace state and the legacy you’re building.”
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