Annie B. Currie - Forest
Annie B. Currie enjoyed success in athletics both on the high school and collegiate levels and has used that experience to teach students in their paths to success.
Currie was born in Forest on January 23, 1930. She is the daughter of the late David and Jimima Forte Currie. She learned to play basketball at Crudup Bottom Elementary School and continued to play during her high school days, serving as a captain of her team. She graduated from Scott County Training School in 1950.
She advanced to Jackson State College where she continued to excel on the court and in the classroom for four years. She also earned the respect of her teammates in being chosen as a captain. She received trophies in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954. As a result of her school accomplishments and post-graduate success, in 2005, Currie was inducted into the Jackson State University Sports Hall of Fame.
Currie graduated from Jackson State University in 1954 with a degree in elementary education and earned a Master’s degree in elementary education thereafter.
She taught school for 35 years and cared for her parents until their deaths. Currie has volunteered in her church as a Sunday school teacher and a Sunday school superintendent, a class leader and secretary of the church, member of the Pastor Parish Relation Committee and a volunteer member of the Homewood Fire Department and one of the board members.
Currie is also a member of the Scott County Chapter of Jackson State University, the Scott County Training School/E.T. Hawkins High School Alumni Association and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.
Burney Kirkland - Scott Central (Deceased)
Burney Ray Kirkland was not a native of Scott County but left a lasting legacy in the county as one of its winningest coaches. In all, Kirkland coached basketball for 32 years.
Kirkland was born on August 13, 1933, in DeKalb in Kemper County. He graduated from Cleveland High School in 1953, East Mississippi Community College and earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1959 from Livingston University in Livingston, Ala. He served two years in the U.S. Army.
During his career, was a lifetime member of the Mississippi High School Coaches Association and a member of the Mississippi Coaches Hall of Fame for Basketball. He taught and coached at Bloomo, New Hope, Hickory Flat, Horn Lake, Lake and retired at Scott Central.
Kirkland’s teams won virtually every award that Mississippi teams can aspire and many of them multiple times. At the time of his retirement, his coaching record stood at 651 wins, 194 losses as a girls’ coach and 451 wins and 258 losses as a boys’ coach.
He was named Coach of the Year numerous times by numerous organizations. He was also a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators, Mississippi Professional Educators and National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association.
Kirkland, 77, of Forest, died on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, at the VA Medical Center in Jackson.
Maurice L. Bowie - Morton
Maurice Bowie’s athletic career has included playing time on the high school and college levels as well as coaching on both levels.
Bowie was born on April 4, 1977, in Morton and grew up in the Ludlow community. He played basketball for the Panthers at Morton High School for four years where he earned MVP honors on his team and in the district and all-state. He graduated from Morton in 1995 and advanced to East Central Community College where he again excelled on the court. He earned all-region, all-state and all-star honors while playing for the Warriors. He was also elected Who’s Who Among College Athletes and Student Body President.
He finished his college playing days at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with his final two years of basketball where he earned all-conference honors.
As an assistant coach at Alcorn State University, Bowie helped the Braves win the Southwest Athletic Conference Championship. He was later named the first black head coach at East Central Community College for the men’s basketball program where he served 2006-2013.
He now lives in Natchez.
Larry Leo Johnson - Forest
Larry Leo Johnson enjoyed a successful athletics career on the high school and college level, served his country in the military and became a successful businessman.
Johnson was born in Forest on October 2, 1941, and now resides in Madison.His athletic days go back to being among the first members of local little league baseball when it was established in Forest. In his second year of playing, he led the league with 11 homeruns, a record that stood for 11 years.
At Forest High School, Johnson lettered four years in football and earned numerous honors, including being named team captain and MVP for three years, earned local, state and national recognition. He also lettered four years in baseball and basketball and participated in track. Johnson was a member of numerous school clubs and earned many other honors.
Johnson chose the University of Mississippi to further his education where he attended 1959-1963 on an athletic scholarship including being part of the Ole Miss national championship team. He earned numerous honors and was selected as president of the student M-Club by his teammates. During his presidency, he helped establish the J.W. Davidson Scholarship Fund to honor the legendary Ole Miss coach.
Johnson studied business administration and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees while earning numerous academic honors. He was a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity and the Army Reserve Officer Training Corp and earned many honors.
Upon graduation, Johnson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army where he earned the Army Commendation Medal for active service.
After military service, Johnson worked for Southern Bell Telephone Company for 30 years and retired as vice-president of public affairs. He has been active in many church and civic organizations.
Carla Lowry - Forest (Deceased)
Carla d’Estelle Lowry is considered among a pioneer in girls basketball when she played at a time that did not give much recognition to girls playing the sport. She was successful as a player and a coach and administrator.
Lowry was born on July 17, 1939. As a young girl in Forest in the 1940s, she loved basketball and was especially proficient at shooting because of many hours of practice.
The Forest girls were a powerhouse. They won 81 straight at one point. They were a point of Scott County pride. Forest’s gym was packed for games. Sometimes, much of the crowd left when the girls went to the dressing room and the boys took the court.
After graduating from Forest High School with four years of basketball experience, Lowry attended Wayland College, 1957-1961. She was a gold medalist in the Pan American Games in Chicago, 1959; won the AAU Championship, 1959 and 1961; was All-American in 1961; and played in Russia with the U.S. Department Cultural Exchange Program.
She coached at Kincaid High School in Houston, Texas, 1963-1967, where she won a Southwest Preparatory Conference Championship in 1967. At Sam Houston State University, 1967-1969, she won Texas Intercollegiate Association State Honors in basketball and volleyball, 1969-1970. She was a graduate assistant at Texas Woman’s University, 1969-1971. She served as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, 1972-1974; and was Director of Athletics at Southwestern University. She was inducted in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
Lowry, who earned her master’s degree and then her doctorate, also wrote books including Pictorial Basketball and Women’s Basketball.
Lowry, 86, died on July 23, 2015, as a resident of Georgetown, Texas. — Rick Cleveland contributed to this report.
Curtis Reed Davis - Morton
Curtis Reed Davis started his athletic career as a Morton Panther and rose to greatness as a member of some of the best football teams at the University of Mississippi.
Davis was born on June 7, 1942, in the Ludlow community. He attended Morton High School where he graduated in 1960. He lettered in four sports including football, basketball, baseball and track. He was a member of the M-Club, Who’s Who and earned All-Little Dixie honors in 1960.
Davis received a five-year football scholarship to Ole Miss and was one of only four true freshmen to play for the 1960 Ole Miss Rebels who won a national championship. In the 1962 Cotton Bowl, Davis scored the Rebels’ only touchdown in a 12-7 loss to Texas. He also played in the 1963 and 1964 Sugar Bowls, defeating Arkansas 17-14 and losing to Alabama 12-7. During his senior year, Davis was picked to play in the post-season 1964 Challenge Bowl in Corpus Christie, Texas, where is team won 63-7.
Davis earned three letters while helping Ole Miss to a 25-1-2 record and two SEC titles. The 1962 team went undefeated with 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. He received a degree in business at Ole Miss, majoring in accounting.
Davis was drafted by the Hamilton Football Team of the Canadian League but decided not to accept the offer. Davis worked for the University of Mississippi 1968-2003 in the office of accounting, as director of internal audit and served as associate athletic director and director of finance. He has received the Distinguished American Award from the Ole Miss chapter of the National Football Foundation. He received the College Hall of Fame Award in 2001, given to the former player who has carried the lessons learned on the football field into a life of service to the community. He has served as a member of the Oxford Jaycees, as a high school referee and member of professional organizations.
Julie L. Latham - Morton
Julie C. Latham enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a member of the Morton Panthers athletic programs.
Latham was born on September 28, 1957, in Carthage but grew up in Morton which she claims as her hometown. In junior high school, she was a standout basketball player earning MVP honors. In high school, she helped her Lady Panthers to a 1973 state championship and was named team captain. She earned honors including all-conference, all-district, all-Scott County tournament, and state all-stars. Scholastic awards included president of the Beta Club and Library Club, Athletic Girl Award, Danforth Citizenship Award, Science Award, Perfect Attendance Award, city softball all-tournament team and was valedictorian of her senior class.
After graduating from Morton in 1975, Latham advanced to East Central Junior College where she continued success in basketball and tennis. She won the state singles tennis title. In basketball, she was named best defensive player and state honorable mention and helped the Lady Warriors win a state championship in 1976 and runners-up in 1977. She was named team captain, Student Hall of Fame, Who’s Who in American Junior College, class salutatorian, class favorite, Citizen Award, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Student Body President and 1996 Athletic Hall of Fame. Latham also was an intramural ping pong champion.
At Mississippi College, Latham participated on the basketball and tennis teams, was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, vice-president of Mortar Board Honor Society and was 1979 Student Teacher of the Year.
Professional accomplishments include teaching for 34 years at Morton Elementary School and junior high before retirement in 2013. She was named Teacher of the Year at Bettye Mae Jack Middle School and Scott County Teacher of the Year. She coached junior high basketball for 24 years with five undefeated seasons.
Durwood Smith - Forest (Deceased)
When students use the gymnasium at Forest High School and inspect the scoreboard, they can also see the gym’s namesake of Durward Smith who is a legend in the history of Forest athletics.
Smith was a native of Greene County and born on May 21, 1927, but considered Forest his hometown. He died on January 7, 1995.
Smith was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame representing 34 years of coaching baseball, basketball, football and track. He held coaching positions at Crossroads High School in Pelahatchie, Forest High School, Morton High School, Pearl High School and Mississippi College. During his career, he guided girls basketball teams to 602 wins and 140 losses; boys basketball teams to 278 wins and 173 losses; and earned respectable records in coaching baseball, football and track teams.
He guided teams to numerous championships including state girls basketball titles in 1954, 1955, 1960, 1964, 1969 and 1973. The 1954 and 1964 girls teams won overall state titles with undefeated records. He won 14 Little Dixie Conference titles with girls and boys teams.
He won numerous honors including coach of the year in Little Dixie Conference in 1963-1964 and was named Mississippi High School All-Star Basketball Coach three times and was named Mississippi Coach of the Year in 1973-1974.
Smith also served on the board of directors for the Mississippi Association of Coaches and as president and vice-president of the Little Dixie Conference.
He was honored by the Mississippi State Senate and House of Representatives in 1984 for his coaching achievements.
Melvin Roland - Morton
Melvin Roland has remained a loyal Morton Panther and Mississippi State Bulldog as an alumnus of both schools. He keeps up with the Panthers while living in his hometown and traveling extensively to see the Bulldogs play.
Roland was born on August 3, 1937, in the Clifton community of Scott County and claims Morton as his hometown were he still resides. Roland graduated from Morton High School in 1955.
In playing football for the Morton Panthers, Roland earned all-Little Dixie honors and all-state honors among numerous other honors. He was selected for the first all-star game played at Mississippi Veterans Stadium in Jackson and named to the All-American roster. Roland was the first Morton graduate to sign a grant-in-aid scholarship to a division 1A Southeastern Conference university, choosing Mississippi State College, now known as Mississippi State University.
At Mississippi State, Roland was named to the first team freshman squad and first team varsity. A knee injury ended his playing career but Roland was moved from scholarship athlete to student trainer and stayed involved in the athletic program. He earned Dean’s Scholar honors and, in 1959, was a member of the first class of graduates to receive a diploma with the school’s permanent name of Mississippi State University.
After graduation, Roland was employed with the financial division of General Motors in what would become a 31-year career residing in New Orleans, Metarie, Hammond, La., and Jackson before returning to Morton.
His service to the community has included Scoutmaster of Troop 28 leading numerous scouts to Camp Philmont Scout Ranch and numerous Scout honors including the Order of the Arrow, Silver Beaver Award and other honors.
Roland holds membership in the Morton Lions Club, Morton Homemaker Club, volunteer of We Care Mission, and other activities.
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Randy Martin - Lake
Randy Martin capped a distinguished career in education following many honors in the athletic arena where he excelled in playing football and baseball as well as coaching.
Martin is a native of Kosciusko where he attended high school as well as East Holmes. Martin attended Holmes Jr. College where he received an Associate’s degree in 1973. He played football in 1971-72 and baseball in 1972 and 1973. In football, he earned all-state and all-star honors as well as starting positions in baseball. He was also active in other areas of school life. Martin was later inducted into the Holmes Community College Sports Hall of Fame.
He moved on to Mississippi College where he played football and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1975. Martin earned a Master’s degree at Mississippi State University in 1976 and an administrative degree at Miss. State in 1999. While at Miss. State, he served as a graduate assistant for Coach Bob Tyler.
His professional career included coaching stints in sports including football, girls volleyball, basketball, baseball and track at Winfield, Ala., Columbus-Caldwell, Ackerman and Aberdeen. Martin came to Lake in 1991 and coached until 2010. He coached football and later started the Hornets baseball program and later served as principal until retirement in 2015. Most recently he worked for the Forest Parks and Recreation Department.
Through his career, he was named Coach of the Year numerous times and was named to coach numerous all-star games. Martin has been a member of the Mississippi Coaches Association for 40 years, serving on executive board for five years; president of MHSAA executive council and board; Fellowship of Christian Athletes 25 years with 21 years on coaches’ council.
He has served on the board of directors for Weems Mental Health Center and the Central Mississippi Regional Library System.
Michael "Chuck" Wade - Forest
Michael “Chuck” Wade is one of the legends of Forest Bearcat athletes and took his skills to the collegiate level where he played for the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.
Wade was born on July 20, 1947, in Mobile, Ala., but moved to Forest when he was five years old. His parents, W.J. and Dorothy Wade were natives of Scott County. He graduated from Forest High School in 1965. His senior year, Wade was named MVP and received All-Little Dixie Conference honors as well as All-American honors. He played football (one year letter), basketball (five year letter), track (four year letter) and baseball (five year letter) but primarily focused on basketball.
Wade advanced to Mississippi State where he lettered three years, was named team captain and earned all-SEC academic honors before graduating in 1969. He was also vice-president of the M-Club in 1968-69. Wade earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education and entered the teaching profession as well as coaching.
After initial employment in Mobile, Ala., and later Hinds County, Wade made his way back to Scott County and served as principal at Scott Central Elementary School and was a basketball coach. Wade later earned his Master’s degree through Mississippi College and his administration certification. He served as principal at Hawkins Middle School for 13 years.
Wade then served as director of the Forest-Scott County Career and Technology Center for 10 years until his retirement on June 30, 2013. His education career was interrupted briefly when he left to operate a family chicken farm and later served as District 1 Supervisor for Scott County before returning to education.
The Scott County Times contributed to this report.