Rison-Dallas Association, Inc.

Rison-Dallas Association 2006 Reunion

The Rison-Dallas Association 34th Annual Reunion, August 5, 2006

Huntsville Times Article on 2006 Reunion
Huntsville Times Article on the 2006 Reunion.
(Click for a full size version)

2006 Reunion Cover How can I possibly describe the indescribable?  I’ll try.

While there have been 33 previous annual reunions, this must have been the best of all reunions.  We swarmed into the Jackson Way Baptist Church with a mission: take advantage of the time allowed, celebrate and have a good time.  And we did!

There were at least 15 people who attended this year’s reunion for the first time; there were probably more than that but we didn’t take a poll until near the end of the program.  It was exciting to note that there were folks of all ages there – pre-teens, teens, young adults, middle-aged folks, and the older adults.  It was probably the best mix ever – and we all seemed to be having a good time.  Well, except I think that I heard one father promise his young son a special T-shirt if he’d stay just a little while longer!

After the reunion, I looked at our mailing list and saw the names of many of you who didn’t make it to the reunion this year.  We missed you and you missed a good time.  Hopefully, you’ll join us at our 35th reunion on August 4, 2007.

CLICK HERE to see who attended this year’s reunion. As usual, there are names missing from the list because some people failed to sign in. While that's understandable, it’s frustrating for those of us who want to make sure that we’re all counted and that we have your correct address.  If your name should be on this list, please tell us.

While last year’s reunion was the largest ever in attendance, this year’s attendance even exceeded that.  The best count that we were able to make was 243; we’re sure that there were more, possibly as many as 300, but the names were not there.

We were in close quarters, weren’t we?  I likened this closeness and tight quarters to going to Star Market on a Super Saturday.  There are so many people there that sometimes one has to back out of an aisle to be able to maneuver.  Not once have I ever witnessed an irritable customer because they are there because they want to be there.  It’s the same with us, it didn’t really matter that we were crowded - we were there because we wanted to be there! One of our friends called out, “Where am I supposed to sit to eat?”  I pointed to several empty spots so I feel sure that she got to eat.

I heard many comments about the reunion being well organized.  Well that’s because so many of our folks worked to make sure that it was well organized.  Here’s the list of names of these people who worked either or both in preparation for the reunion and also on the day of the reunion:

Helen Acuff
Thomas Blount
James Brewer
Buddy Burkett
Jo Anna Gowan Burkett
Buddy Curry
Leo Drake
Brenda Burkett Elders
Bill "Buddy" Elders
Aileen McGinness Elledge
Ann Schrimsher Franklin
Paula Franklin
Betty Franklin Frasier
Glenn Hymer
Sally Certain Hymer
Loretta Chisholm Patterson
Lynn Russell
Marjorie Ruth Cullom Snell
Betty Burkett Stephens
Calvin Surrett
Maurine Hayes Alverson Surrett
Geraldine McGinnis Walker
John Williams
Montez Williams
Alicia Waldrup
Jeri Ann Waldrup
Martha Waldrup
Reek Wilson
Wanda Renegar Wilson

While food is always plentiful at our reunions, this year’s spread of food stretched across every available table/countertop in the kitchen, with two large tables filled with desserts outside the kitchen.  I saw one young man with a good-sized bowl of banana pudding who warned, “You’d better hurry - the banana pudding is almost gone!”  It’s for sure that no one left the reunion hungry.

2006 Reunion Program

During the program part of the reunion:

I told the group that I knew that it’s hard for many of us to sit for an extended period of time, so that if they needed to get up and move around, please do so. We hoped that they’d be able to stay for the whole program.

  • Nineteen of our Rison-Dallas people died since the 2005 reunion.  Our vice-president, Helen Acuff, asked us to remember each person as she slowly and reverently read these names.  Please let us know if there are other names that should be on this list.

As you read these names, I’m sure that there are those whom you remember and can recall some pleasant memories that you shared with some of them. Their loss diminished our community but they certainly enriched it during their lifetime.


Mattie Atkinson McGinness

Gracie Mitchell Hill

William C. “Pete” Finley

Lillian Samples Wheat

Eugene Floyd Dunham

Hoyt David Wilkes

Felix “Buck” Branch

Melvin L. “Pete” Hunt

Celestine Day Webb

Ronald Wayne “Ron” Schrimsher

Gerald Dalton “Moose” Campbell

Clarence Wallace

J. Dalton “Mouse” Gaines

John W. Burgess, Jr.

Ozell Johnson Johnson

William Don Stewart

Faye Johnson

Regina Blount Wood

Tommy Walker

  • We asked our veterans to stand.  While the veterans were standing, I asked that we: “Remember that as we stand here today there are both military and civilians serving and working in harm’s way throughout the world.  We pray that they remain safe.”  Our guest speaker, Major General James Pillsbury, of Redstone Arsenal, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance after which we sang, “God Bless America.”  During the pledge, the general did not place his hand over his heart.  At the beginning of his speech he explained the reason why.  He said that those who served in the military know why, but when in uniform and standing at attention, one did not put his hand over his heart.  Had he not been in uniform and standing at attention, his hand would have been over his heart.


Please click here to read my introduction to Major General Pillsbury and his inspiring speech.


John Williams, president of the Class of 1946 who sponsored this year’s reunion, acknowledged class members in attendance.  (Please CLICK here to see the photo of the Class of 1946 on our Classes page as well as a picture of those class members in attendance at this year’s reunion.)


Sadly, the following eight members of this class are deceased:


Earnest Roland Case

James Herlan Clark

Hilda Edmison Deeter

Edna Crowl Holman

Jeannette Potter

Beulah Corum Ramsey

Louise Alverson Warren

Carl Wingo


John introduced our honored guests, members of Rison’s 1940 football team.  On page 1 of the Sports Programs section of our website, please see the picture of the team, a photo of those surviving team members who attended the reunion (except for Bill Edgemon), and John Pruitt’s wonderful Huntsville Times’ article about the team.


Association Business


Website – As of today, we had over 9300 hits on our website; Craig Clontz, our webmaster does a wonderful job; although Craig was not there, we applauded him. The Association presented Craig with a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant and made a donation to his church in his honor.

Cookbook: CLICK HERE to see if your name is in the cookbook! If you have already bought one you may decide to buy more.  Great Christmas gifts.  Recognized the committee:  Brenda Elders, Helen Acuff, Geraldine Walker, Jo Anna Burkett, Wanda Wilson and myself.  Brenda, Jo Anna and Wanda underwrote the printing costs for the cookbooks. When they volunteered to underwrite the costs, I realized that it was important to protect their investment as well as protecting the association, so I drafted a legal document to be signed by all parties. Not being a lawyer however, I sent an email message to our Doug Martinson senior, told him the situation, told him that I needed some legal advice but I also told him that we don’t have any money.  He was kind enough to tell me to send the document to him and he’d take a look at it.  Well, after about three iterations, we had a fine legal document.  So, our thanks to Doug for his generosity.  Doug is the father of our School Board President Doug Martinson II. My local branch bank notary notarized the document, made all the necessary copies – all for free.

(Editor's note, added September 2, 2006: The Association received the following thank you note from the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library:

"Please thank the members of the Rison-Dallas Association for their gift to the Heritage Room of "Cooking with the Village People." I have really enjoyed my copy (Ed. a copy she purchased), reading the historical notes and have tried several of the recipes. I know the citizens of Huntsville will enjoy reading and using it years from now. We are very fortunate to have people like you who know the value of preserving our history.

I thank you again for your donation.


Ranée Pruitt, Archivist")

NOTE: At the request of the cookbook committee, here I'm presenting a copy of our cookbook to Cathey and Tom Carney of The Old Huntsville Magazine. The Carneys spent considerable time getting me started on the cookbook by sharing their experience in writing a cookbook as well as providing the necessary software. I've said it before: talking with Tom is like sitting at the feet of the master! Our sincere thanks to them for their generosity.

Do you see the beautiful wall hanging behind Cathey? Our cookbook committee member, Jo Anna G. Burkett, made it - a replica of the cookbook cover. On the back of the wall hanging is printed:

Made especially for
Ann Schrimsher Franklin
in appreciation for her time and leadership
devoted to the Rison-Dallas
"Cooking With The Village People, Vol. I" cookbook
Created by Jo Anna G. Burkett, August 2006

It's a wonderful keepsake - a real treasure.

Commercial: Buddy Curry told us that putting on these reunions costs money; and asked us to be generous with our contributions. He said that if we had already given, we may want to put a little more into our donation vases.

Cemetery marker:  The group was asked if they had seen the new cemetery marker at the Dallas Mills Cemetery. We’re so happy that the city finally honored this cemetery with its own marker. Our councilman, Mark Russell, made it happen.  Our sincere thanks Mark.  (Click here to see the marker, at the bottom of the page.)

Tree Program:  There is a national Historic Tree Program from which communities may select a seedling tree from historic or famous sites.  The reunion committee voted to purchase a seedling and, since the 1930 Rison year book was called, “The Oaks,” we voted to purchase an oak seedling to be placed at the Dallas Mills Cemetery.  The cost of the seedling is $85.00 and includes a personalized plaque to mark the tree, and a certificate documenting the type of tree purchased. It seemed fitting that The Association be represented in this way at our cemetery site.  Brenda Webb of the City Cemetery Department and I selected an Abraham Lincoln Overcup Oak tree from Lincoln’s birthplace.  The City will order the seedling, plant it, and water it on a regular schedule for the first year.  Ms. Webb said that her department has planted many seedlings and has had great success with them.

Election of Vice-President and a Secretary:  A nominating committee has been appointed for the purpose of selecting a nominee for a vice-president and a secretary. I asked Bessie Certain to chair the committee; other members of the committee are:  Marguerite Parker, Leo Drake, Lorene Rice, and Benny Fiske.  Any nominee for the secretary’s job will need to have computer skills.  So, be thinking about someone you think might be effective in each of these two positions; they’ll be elected at next year’s reunion.

One of our number suggested that we needed a Suggestion Box; our own John Williams volunteered to make us one and here’s the picture:


Suggestion Box


The suggestion box was available at the reunion and we received this suggestion:


That dates should be on every photo (or as close as possible).  Thanks.


I assume that the suggestion concerned the pictures displayed on the table at the back of the room.  That’s a good suggestion for many of us who may not identify family photos.

Thanks for the suggestion.  Please feel free to offer suggestions any time because they can be very helpful.  ‘Just email us at risondallas@bellsouth.net.  The suggestion box will be available at each year’s reunion.


John recognized our teachers and visitors.  Our teachers in attendance were:


Ann Burleson, Buddy Curry, Joy Daniel, Corrine Fanning, Raymond Falkenberry, Glenn Hymer, Bill Rice, Hazel Turney Ward, Wanda Wilson


I recognized all graduating classes, starting with the Class of 1934 and ending with the Class of 1951.  I also recognized the graduates of Butler, Lee, Huntsville High, and other schools.


We applauded the Class of 1946 for sponsoring this year’s reunion – they did a great job – even worked: John Williams, Glenn and Sally Certain Hymer, and Marjorie Ruth Cullom Snell attended each pre-reunion meeting; Sally and Glenn drove all the way from Birmingham.


I challenged the Class of 1947 to sponsor the 2007 reunion in celebration of their 60th anniversary.  The challenge was accepted by Buddy Curry of that class.


As you can tell, it was a busy reunion with lots of activity.  I heard nothing but good things about our time together.  Could you feel the love and joy in that room?  I could.  It was a great day and I thank you for being there.  I feel privileged to be a member of that group of people we call, Rison-Dallas!


Please join us again on August 4th next year, 2007, same time, same place.


I then asked that we all stand, if able, hold each other’s hands, and sing together our reunion song.

Following the reunion song, I said to the group, “May the good Lord bless and keep you ‘til we meet again.”

Carl Melton gave the benediction.



Introduction of our guest speaker, Major General James Pillsbury

More than two years ago, he came to Redstone.  This is normally a two year assignment; but his assignment was recently extended another year and I think that I know why – it’s because since arriving at Redstone he has embraced the City of Huntsville and endeared himself to its citizens as no leader has in my memory.

General Pillsbury began his career in 1973 when he was commissioned a 2d Lt; 3 years later he trained to become an aviator at Fort Rucker and held various command positions.  I’ll leave the rest of his military story up to him.

I met General Pillsbury today for the first time but I’ve quoted him twice on our website.  The first quote is, “If you can read a newspaper, thank a teacher; if you can read it in English, thank a vet.”  (We applauded the vets.)  The second quote was during last year’s final Bicentennial Celebration when he said, “We weren’t all born in Huntsville, but we got here as quickly as we could!”  (I said: “Is that not endearing?”)

In addition to the general’s work, his wife Becky has her own missions, the most recent being helping to establish a Huntsville group called, “Still Serving Veterans,” whose goal is to reduce the challenges of veterans returning to this area.  Mrs. Pillsbury was quoted as saying, “We want to make sure these people who have served and done so much are not left behind.”

So, you see, when we got General Pillsbury we also were fortunate to get his wife too!

General Pillsbury, within our group here today are veterans who served in all wars and conflicts from WWII through Dessert Storm.  We even have one “Rosie the Riveter,” (Marguerite Parker) who worked in Cleveland, OH, and then came back home to Huntsville to work at Redstone – at the “Bullet Factory.”

So, it is my pleasure to introduce our guest speaker, Major General Jim Pillsbury.

Major General James H. Pillsbury

Excerpts from Major General James Pillsbury’s Speech at the 34th Annual Rison-Dallas Association Reunion on August 5, 2006:

Our friends, Sally and Glenn Hymer, provided the following excerpts from Major General Pillsbury’s informative and inspiring speech.  These excerpts are not necessarily in the order presented.

After Ann introduced the general, he said, “That was the best introduction I have ever had!"

The general did not come with a prepared speech; he spoke strictly from the heart.

The general:

  • Praised our civilians and military serving in 100+ places in the world.
  • Said that the President requires that an officer go to each funeral of each person killed in Iraq. He said he had been to more than one but would rather not say how many. When he told about going to one funeral and when he handed the folded flag to the widow, she looked at him and said, "We are going to be O.K." It was at that point when he almost broke down and could not continue for a few seconds. He said the soldier was handing a candy bar to a little girl and a trigger bomb exploded and killed them both.
  • Said the military is under civilian control and the military follows orders.
  • Stated that you will notice in all pictures of our military in Iraq that all their rifles have the barrel pointed downward, not up.
  • Said we would not hear in the media about all the good things going on in Iraq. Graduation classes of both boys and girls for the first time, cities lit up with electricity which was not there before, and many other good things.  He flew into Baghdad at night and looked down and saw Baghdad lit up like New York City!
  • Said he had been to Iraq several times and to Afghanistan.  Also, he said the oil is flowing again.
  • He asked all of us in the audience to spread the word that things are going better in Iraq and good things are being accomplished.
  • Thanked the veterans in the audience for their service and keeping our country free.
  • Essentially said he loves Huntsville and had told all his friends if they had not been to Huntsville to get there as quickly as they can. He praised the way Huntsville is run by the officials and said the schools could be better but they are getting there. He has bought a piece of property on Flint River and plans to build. He said he has two children; his daughter is moving to Huntsville next month.
  • Everything he said was right on target as far as we were concerned.
  • When the reunion president presented him a copy of our cookbook and told him his wife had contributed to the cookbook, he said, “Her recipes had better be good because our name is Pillsbury!"

And now, for the gallery of pictures from the 2006 Rison Reunion:
Please click here.

Rison-Dallas Association, Inc.