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It’s still not too late to do the right thing

A couple of weeks ago while waiting for the kickoff of the Pasquotank at Hertford County football game in Ahoskie, I was chatting with Eddie Allen, the retired coach and athletic director at Hertford County Middle School.

Most everyone knows Eddie is the son of the late Ahoskie/Hertford County High School coaching legend Daryl Allen. Daryl’s success as a coach and mentor to young men is well documented. He once told me that he was just as proud to see one of his former players become a successful doctor or lawyer as he would if they went on to become a pro football player.

As Eddie and I talked, the subject matter also turned to his father’s closet ally, Richard Murray. Richard was the baseball coach and athletic director at Ahoskie High and HCHS and was an assistant football coach.

A year or so before Richard passed away, he came by my office and dropped off several hand-written pages that documented how the athletic complex at HCHS came about. When that new school (then Ahoskie High School at its campus on First Street) opened, there wasn’t enough money left in the budget to completely finish the athletic fields, or erect fencing and a press box at the football stafium.

Thanks to the hard work of Daryl Allen and Richard Murray, they not only rolled up their sleeves and performed a lot of the work themselves, they also solicited volunteers (both physical and financial) to lay the foundation on what we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing today.

I said all that to say this….it’s way past time to do the right thing and place their names on those athletic grounds. For those who don’t believe we need to honor individuals that way, then I offer up the following column that published in this exact space on Oct. 14, 2014:

Murfreesboro, located in Hertford County, was chartered Jan. 6, 1787 by the North Carolina General Assembly. It was originally known as Murfree’s Landing, bearing the name of William Murfree who purchased 150 acres along the Meherrin River (property that was part of the first deed on record there – a land grant belonging to Henry Wheeler in 1714).

Later, thanks to Murfree donating 97 acres to help foster the birth of a growing community, the town was named in his honor.

Within Murfreesboro sits Chowan University. Chowan traces its history, deeply entrenched in the Baptist faith, to many individuals and families who have made a significant impact on the growth of the university. In return, numerous buildings bear names of those men and women of faith – Ella Cobb Camp, Piggy Jenkins, Robert Marks, Bruce Whitaker, Jim Garrison, Jerry Hawkins, and Dr. Chris White, just to name a few.

Travel a short distance east on US 158 and you’ll find another Hertford County town entrenched in history. Originally known as Wynntown, Winton was incorporated in 1766 (making it Hertford County’s oldest town) by the North Carolina General Assembly based on a bill introduced by its native son, NC House Representative Benjamin Wynn who had donated 50 acres of land to be used as the town commons.

Located within the borders of Winton stands C. S. Brown School, a multi-building campus named in honor of Calvin Scott Brown, an educator, preacher and journalist.

Also part of Winton is the Hobson R. Reynolds National Elks Shrine, so named for the town native who went on to make his mark in life in Philadelphia and served many, many years as National President of the Elks organization.

Skip over to Ahoskie and find the legacy of Robert L. Vann. The Ahoskie native, born in 1879, went on to become editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, a newspaper organized by a small group of blacks in March 1910. He developed the Courier into one of the leading African American newspapers of the early 20th Century. By 1930, the newspaper was the largest black publication in circulation from coast to coast. Back at home they named a public school in his honor.

In the Hertford County village of Union stands Roanoke-Chowan Community College. A few of the buildings on its campus are named in honor of men who helped shape this former state prison into an educational facility…to include Roberts Jernigan, and H.C. Freeland.

Travel around Hertford County and take note of the many public roads named in honor of an individual or family – Williams Fishery Road, Spiers Road, Wises Store Road, Eleytown Road, Horton Road, Tom Brown Road, Vinson Mill Road, Vaughan Town Road, Henry Brown Road, Blowe Road, Jim Hardy Road, William H. Vinson Road, Dupont Davis Road, McCaskey Road, Liverman Mill Road, A.J. Wilson Road, Boone Farm Road, Saluda Hall Road, Bazemore Road, Castelow Road, Swain Road, Thomas Road, Godwin Town Road, Arthur Majette Road, Jackie Brinkley Road, Joe Holloman Road, Mary Odom Road, Hollowell Road, Lee Jernigan Road, Johnny Mitchell Road, and Williford Road.

Past history has shown that names can be attached to towns, buildings and roads within the borders of Hertford County. Those individuals and families served as giants in the development of the county and thank goodness someone had the good sense to pay honor to them.

To the Hertford County Board of Education, past history proves that it’s perfectly acceptable to honor contributions made to the betterment of all of Hertford County. Please remove your collective heads buried inside a 1988 filing cabinet and name the football field and baseball field at Hertford County High School for Daryl Allen and Richard Murray, respectively.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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