Academy honors state’s best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I recently attended the induction ceremony for the Alabama Academy of Honor. To say that it is an example of Alabama’s brightest and best would be an understatement.

From entrepreneurs to world renowned writers, it is simply a showcase of some of Alabama’s most talented and successful individuals.

Attending the ceremony was Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee.

Upon meeting her I was quick to learn of the mystery that surrounds her. Intriguing is a word that describes this woman of literary genius who rarely socializes and appears to find herself unimportant &045; a trait that is both rare and appreciated in our culture. Meeting her was a thrill and a monumental moment.

Among this year’s inductees into the Academy were Gov. Bob Riley; Don Logan, chairman of AOL Time Warner’s Media and Communications Group; Dr. Malcolm Portera, chancellor of the University of Alabama System; Van Richey, president and CEO of American Cast Iron Pipe Company; and my favorite, Kathryn Tucker Windham.

Ms. Windham was not the featured speaker, as I had hoped, but rather she graciously sat and listened as one of the male honorees was given the opportunity &045; something to which sadly, but surely I’m certain she is quite accustomed.

She is such a fine Southern lady of charm, distinction and realness. Her ghost stories, photography, National Public Radio segments and numerous other contributions to the state and the world are so abundant.

She is as much a part of our heritage as the tales of the ghosts she writes. Yet there is nothing ominous about this Southern lady with all her world-renowned distinction and Southern charm.

She has spun ghost tales like a spider spins its web and as a third grade child in south Alabama, they caught me in the same way &045; unable to escape the attraction and the mystery that draws you to them.

She is as well known in Alabama as grits or molasses.

Deep within her antebellum essence and academic distinction, is a humility and respect for others, a gracious manner and a shy, stylish wit.

She has a clever demeanor balanced by a mischievous smile, eyes that look right through you and a humble and mysterious presence that could only be known to one who knows, loves and has given back the very best of Alabama.

Kathryn Tucker Windham is one of many intriguing successes in the Alabama Academy of Honor.

It is a real find for proud Alabamians, history buffs or those seeking information and education regarding some of Alabama’s most treasured natural resources &045; its citizens.

To learn more about the Alabama Academy of Honor, visit the Alabama Archives website at

It is a fabulous resource and a wealth of information regarding our state and our proud heritage.

State Auditor Beth Chapman and her family are from Shelby County