Recreation hall named for the late Ernest White
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — About 60 people gathered Monday at the dedication ceremony for the renaming of the Glenn City Recreation Hall in honor of the late Ernest White.

“The Ernest White Community Center,” the newly placed sign that hangs up high in front of the building states.

“To dedicate this building in his honor makes me feel proud,” Pell City Council President James McGowan said. “The council was excited about doing this. … It’s a great thing to do.”

White died Nov. 1, 2012, but people who gathered at the dedication ceremony said the memory of a man who gave so much to his community will live for a long, long time to come.

“I did not know Mr. White that well, but it is men like him who make a community thrive,” city manager Patrick Draper said.

Despite the rain, a large gathering attended the dedication ceremony. People who knew White stood up and talked about the man who always wore a smile.

“He was a kind and gentle spirit,” said Councilwoman Sharon Thomas.

White was also active in the community, and was the first African-American to serve on the Pell City Board of Education, when the School System was first established in 1982.

He also served on various city and church boards and was a long-time member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.

“He was a very level-headed guy, and he would talk about any issues,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hathcock said. “He made a difference in the lives of a lot of people in this community.”

White was always interested in education, even as a boy, one woman in the audience said.

“There are two types of names people remember, good names and bad names,” said Preston Howard, who grew up with and went to school with White. “Mr. White is on the positive side. He had a good name ... We thank the city council and the mayor for honoring him.”

Assistant Superintendent Michael Barber said White treated everyone the same.

He said White was an investor, not only in the homes he remodeled and sold, but in the schools, the School System, the city and the church he served.

“He is definitely worthy of this,” Barber said. “He had an influence on my life.”

Prior to the dedication ceremony at the community center, Mayor Joe Funderburg presented the White family, which included his widow, Alice, and children, with a proclamation.

Funderburg said he served on the school board with White and the two were friends.

“He was Pell City through and through,” Funderburg said. “… It is so good to sit inside The Ernest White Community Center. On behalf of the council and myself, I want to thank the Ernest White family.”

White was the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and the Lion’s Club Lion of the Year.

“Mr. White was extensively involved in numerous civic organizations in the city of Pell City and was known for his dedication to public service, …” a resolution passed by the council Monday states. “… His love, leadership and dedication touched so many lives in our community. He will be greatly missed.”

The mayor and council also proclaimed Monday, March 11, 2013, as Ernest White Day in Pell City.

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© 2013