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Planes, Trains & Heroes: A Story of Warner Robins and the Robins Region

An illustrated history of Warner Robins, Georgia, paired with histories of the companies and organizations that have made the city great.

An illustrated history of Warner Robins, Georgia, paired with histories of the companies and organizations that have made the city great.

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HPNbooks, a division of Lammert Incorporated

San Antonio, Texas


Houston County Hospital.

First Edition

Copyright © 2019 HPNbooks

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing

from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790,

www. hpnbooks.com.

ISBN: 978-1-944891-67-1

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2019954602

Planes, Trains & Heroes: A Story of Warner Robins and the Robins Region

author: Dianne Dent Wilcox

executive editor: Marsha Priest Buzzell

contributing writers for “Sharing the Heritage”: Garnette Odom

Brenda Thompson

cover design: Robert Elliott

HPNbooks

chairman and chief executive officer: Jean-Claude Tenday

publisher and chief creative officer: Bernard O’Connor

president: Ron Lammert

project manager: Brenda Thompson

administration: Kristin Williamson

book sales: Joe Neely

production: Colin Hart

Evelyn Hart

Craig Mitchell

Christopher D. Sturdevant

Steve Althouse

Special thanks to Jenny Maas, Museum of Aviation.

2 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


CONTENTS

4 FOREWORD

8 CHAPTER ONE Before Warner Robins

14 CHAPTER TWO Community Connections

30 CHAPTER THREE Competition

32 CHAPTER FOUR Churches

36 CHAPTER FIVE Commerce

44 CHAPTER SIX Schools

50 CHAPTER SEVEN Quality of Life

52 CHAPTER EIGHT Growth

54 CHAPTER NINE The Future

58 WARNER ROBINS HEROES

70 WARNER ROBINS IN PRINT

72 AFTERWORD

73 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

74 WORKS CITED

76 SHARING THE HERITAGE

126 SPONSORS

127 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Contents ✦ 3


FOREWORD

“Every Day in the U.S.A. is Armed

Forces Appreciation Day”—the motto

of Warner Robins.

History is what we were and what we are. Planes, Trains and Heroes: A History of Warner Robins treats

history like snapshots, documenting significant facts and important happenings. It captures images,

stories and commentaries for 2018, the seventy-fifth anniversary of a growing metropolitan region. No

history is a complete history. Rather, each history is another perspective. This author loves Georgia—a

vibrant state with historical importance to America's stature globally. Growing up beneath the flight path

of B-52s and F-15s leaves an impression. So does each individual. Planes, Trains, and Heroes looks at history

based on facts, and the stories of people who live here. A few remember Watson Boulevard “when

it was a dirt road,” the sound of Miss Nola Brantley’s school bell, a wooden train depot repurposed as a

church sanctuary, base gate guards dressed in 1950s uniforms for an Air Force anniversary, a horrific

September 11th, several Little League World Championships, and Butch, the Georgia Bulldog.

During the years 1943-1944, the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad replaced a wooden depot

at Wellston with a larger brick structure. The wooden structure was moved and became the first

sanctuary for First Presbyterian Church. Known today as the E. L. Greenway Welcome Center, the

newer brick depot is the centerpiece for a growing historic village which includes Miss Mildred’s

Country Store and the Elberta Depot built in 1918. Elberta is a community named for the peach

produced in this area that withstood transport to markets on the eastern seaboard. Georgia is known

for its peaches and part in the great Norfolk Southern Rail System.

Warner Robins “is located in northern Houston County…and consists of over 35.82 square miles,

approximately 66,500 people and is home to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia's largest industry. It is

in the heart of Georgia's agricultural belt and boasts an ideal climate” (Warner Robins Police

Department). Warner Robins, the city which grew from Wellston and York, is one of the

fastest growing cities in the nation thanks to the continued efforts of its citizens and its role in

national defense.

The City of Warner Robins emerged because the United States ramped defenses for World War II. Most

expected the town to fade away after that war. It did not. The end of military activities in Korea and

Vietnam did not end Warner Robins. The Cold War and desert wars did not end growth in the area, either.

4 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


“ COLD WAR CHILD” BY DIANNE DENT WILCOX

The earth trembled as a B-52 emerged from a fog bank—its wings spreading to both extremes of the horizon. The apparition

confirmed my worst fears. It was the end of the world, a chilling realization for a child on a Christian academy campus.

Conditioning began in first grade with a screeching siren and Mrs. Grace instructing us to tuck ourselves beneath wooden laminate

and metal desks. Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather re-enforced paranoia by showing young girls running down country roads, their

clothes burning off their bodies. Worse, they were making their way through throngs of emotionally detached cameramen. Daddy

ranted, “If God doesn’t judge the United States, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah,” and others said, “Don’t worry

about it. The Russians will attack Robins Air Force Base first. We’re already dead. You’ll never know what hit you.” Some children

wore dog tags so that their bodies could later be identified. As the giant air craft passed over my school, I prayed not for safety, but

for an eternal home in heaven. The earth seems so temporary when the nuclear bombs fly over playgrounds. I thought about the

yellow and black signs for fallout shelters downtown. It’s a long way down town.

One of the many civilian workers

employed at Robins Air Force Base.

Foreword ✦ 5


Top: Warner Robins City Hall.

Middle: A B-52D Stratofortress on

display at the Museum of Aviation.

Bottom: The modern flightline at

Robins Air Force Base.

6 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


The United States and its children survived

these struggles and so did Warner Robins, a city

that repurposes itself with each need and each

opportunity. It’s now an International City in

which individual citizens speak a minimum

fifty-five languages.

Above: The E. L. Greenway Welcome

Center greets visitors and future

Warner Robins’ residents.

Bottom, left: A welcome sign at the

Warner Robins Convention & Visitors

Bureau, featuring some of the fiftyfive

languages spoken by area

residents.

Below: A plaque honoring Butch the

Georgia Bulldog.

Foreword ✦ 7


CHAPTER ONE

B EFORE W ARNER R OBINS

Remnants of a stone wall believed to

be constructed by early Native

Americans. Houston County, Georgia

was home to Native American nations

for thousands of years.

Early morning mist rises from the creeks and rivers of Houston County, Georgia, as thousands of

workers commute to Robins Air Force Base and the technology hubs and businesses that support her.

Strategic from the day people found this unique area, the land and water guards our free nation.

Prehistoric Uchee, Hitchiti, and people of the Weeden Island culture once roamed forests filled with

life-giving water, wild game, and edible plants. They followed herds of buffalo and the seasons, which

provided food and shelter. Archeological evidence shows an extensive trade network, accessed by trails

and waterways. Muskogee-Creeks followed. Legends state they came from the west, again drawn by

Georgia’s sheltering forests and accessible waterways. Indigenous groups moved to other areas or were

conquered or absorbed. This, of course, foreshadowed the fate of The Great Creek Confederacy as

Europeans later followed the same paths, this time from the east. Native trails became European and

then United States roads and highways. Later, Americas took to the skies and Warner Robins, Georgia

was born.

The area is still environmentally rich. Robins Air Force Base, as do other federal institutions, tracks

and protects its locale. Biologists identified upland forest, wetlands, natural sand dunes, “400 plant, 39

mammal, 110 bird, 60 fish, 34 reptile, 26 amphibian, and 411 insect species” here (“Robins AFB and

78 ABW Heritage Pamphlet”). The city is centrally located: 100 miles from Atlanta, 111 miles from

Athens, 150 miles from Augusta, 95 miles from Columbus, 11 miles from Macon, and 165 miles from

Savannah (Guide to the Robins Region Georgia 3).

Although Christopher Columbus comes to mind as the discoverer of America because of the

schoolhouse rhyme “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean

blue,” people met him when his ships arrived in San Salvador. The key phrase is people met

8 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


him. Columbus, living in the era of Guttenberg’s

printing press, brought European attention to a

New World. Estimated populations of

indigenous peoples living in America before

Columbus’ arrival range from 2.1 to 18 million.

In the Warner Robins area, these peoples

include the mound builders known as

Mississippian or Master Farmers, the Uchee,

Hitchiti, Weeden Island Culture, Muskogee-

Creek and others. Their oral histories, passed

from generation to generation, were lost much

to decimation of their populations by exposure

to European diseases. Only archeological

records remain that researchers piece together

upon each discovery.

When the U.S. government acquires an

area for development, researchers conduct

archeological studies. This occurred at Macon’s

Ocmulgee National Monument. The work there

set the stage for archeological surveys at Robins

Air Force Base:

In December of 1933 Dr. Arthur Kelly arrived

at Ocmulgee Old Fields in Macon, Georgia to

Above: A fragment of a stone wall

built by early Native Americans.

Houston County, Georgia, has been

home to Native American cultures for

thousands of years.

Below: Clockwise, from top, left): Rose

chert, a shard of Kasita red pottery,

paleo fossils, and a chunk of pottery

from the Mississipian or earlier

Woodland culture.

PHOTOGRAPHED COURTESY OF OCMULGEE

NATIONAL MONUMENT.

Chapter One ✦ 9


Archeology on Big Indian Creek, 2017.

begin large-scale archaeological excavations

with the assistance of over 200 men from the

Civil Works Administration. The excavations

were expected to take two months, but were

extended again and again utilizing labor from

various Depression-era programs, such as the

Works Progress Administration (WPA), the

Federal Emergency Relief Administration

5:16 (FERA), and the Civilian Conservation

Corps. (Site Bulletin: “Civilian Conservation

Corps at Ocmulgee National Monument”

1937-1942.

These men, between the ages of 17 and 23,

lived in military-style camps and conducted one

of the largest archeological surveys in U.S.

History. Ocmulgee’s Site Bulletin notes that “In

1941 some of the CCC enrollees’ duties transferred

to nearby Camp Wheeler, an infantry

training facility” and “On December 7, 1941 one

era ended and another began.” The same was

true for Wellston/Warner Robins. In the 1940s,

archeologist Charles Andrews led the surveys at

Robins. Andrew’s team found artifacts from the

Paleo, Archaic, Woodlands, and Mississippian

peoples of pre-Columbian America at Robins.

In 2017, Georgia’s Department of

Transportation sponsored Archeology on Big

Indian Creek on South Houston County’s Highway

247, near the Pulaski County line. Archaic people

camped here during their hunting and working

trips. They traveled by dugout canoe on creeks

and on the Ocmulgee River, about two miles from

this site. The ancient sand dune provides an undisturbed

area for ongoing archeological study. On

March 23, 2018, the group posted “The first sample

dates the site to the Middle Archaic Period (ca.

6000-3000 B.C.). The material used to achieve this

date was a burned acorn shell that was recovered

from 50 to 60 cm below datum. The second is

from the Late Woodland Period (ca. A.D. 650-

1050) and was recovered from soot that was found

on a fragment of sand-tempered pottery. The pottery

was collected from 20 to 30 cm below datum.”

Georgia’s Department of Transportation will locate

the new bridge so that future study is possible.

This section of highway is not an ancient trail,

though. It was built specifically for workers to

access Robins Air Force Base.

When early setttlers migrated to middle

Georgia, they immediately recognized the area for

its strategic value. Remains of a man-made stone

wall sit atop Brown’s Mount, now in Bibb County.

An obscure reference to a stone wall in Houston

County led to rediscovery of a defensive work

near Grovania. It is on private property. Although

difficult to see using ground level photography,

the wall crests a natural ridge over a creek and

circles, forming small strongholds on the highest

outcroppings of that ridge. The distance between

strongholds is appropriate for pre-historic

defense. Topographical studies would show more.

So, Middle Georgians of pre-history determined

that our area was one to defend.

10 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


FROM THE PEOPLE

“My granddaddy, Ernest Hugh Holleman, Sr., was drafted for the army during World War I

and was to report to Fort McPherson in Atlanta. He went to Echeconee to catch the train to

Macon then to Atlanta. When he reached the train station, he learned that the war was over and

that he could go home. It was November 11, 1918.”

- Steve Holleman

“In 1942, I worked in Macon in the long distance department of the telephone company.

There were only two circuits for long distance calls to Wellston at that time.”

- Janie Townsend

Several of the Mississippian mounds at

Ocmulgee National Monument feature defensive

trench work. These first Georgians took full

advantage of natural assets, such as high-ground

visibility, as well as creek and river transportation.

In 1690, the British established a fortified trading

post, whose archeological footprint is on the

grounds of Ocmulgee. Located on the Lower and

Middle Creek trading paths, it operated until

burned in the Yamassee War of 1715. Upon the

establishment of the United States, both George

Washington and Thomas Jefferson eyed the

southwestern frontier, Georgia’s Ocmulgee River.

By 1806, Fort Hawkins towered above the

Muskogee-Creek sacred grounds and represented

the Manifest Destiny philosophy of its new

government. The ancient trading path became

known as The Federal or Garrison Road. A

Pictorial History of Robins Air Force Base, Georgia

summarizes what happened next:

Houston County was created from land

ceded to the State of Georgia by the Creek

Indians in the Creek Treaty of 1821. The treaty

was negotiated at Indian Springs, which is now

a state park in Butts County, above Macon.The

Upper Creeks rejected the treaty but a delegation

of Lower Creeks, led by controversial half-white

Chief William McIntosh, signed it.McIntosh was

not only a Creek Chief but a Brigadier General,

USA, a first cousin of Governor George M.

Troup, and a rich man with numerous slaves.

He had three wives, two red and one white, but

attended the Methodist Church when he

visited his cousin, the Governor, in

Milledgeville. Milledgeville was the state capitol

in those days. A second Creek Treaty (1825)

negotiated at Indian Springs, in which McIntosh

ceded another slice of Indian land, cost him his

life. He was shot and scalped by a party of Creek

warriors. It didn’t change anything.The remaining

Indians of the Southeastern United States

were rounded up in the 1830s and moved to

what is now the state of Oklahoma. (1)

A Land so Dedicated describes the rationale

behind the forced removal of Native

Americans— what the Cherokee call “The Trail

of Tears” and the Muskogee call “The Trail on

which They Cried”—this way:

Ironically, it was the civilization of the tribes

and not their savagery that now most frightened

the Georgians. Both the Creeks in the South and

the Cherokees in the north were setting up

‘states’ asserting their sovereignty of the land.

Their lifestyle had taken on many aspects of

other pioneer settlers except that they would not

acknowledge the jurisdiction of Georgia’s government

over their tribes. (Nelson 40).

Next came farming, then trains. A few

pre-1950 structures remain in Houston County,

and the historic rail lines have merged into

Norfolk Southern.

By the time of the Civil War, both the

Confederate and Union soldiers used the Old

Federal Road. In fact, they engaged on what was

once the site of Fort Hawkins and what is now the

Ocmulgee National Monument in The Battle of

Dunlap Farm. By 1917, and in the same general

area, the United States chose author Harry Stillwell

Edwards’ family farm, Holly Bluff, for the site of

World War I Camp Wheeler and trained about

Chapter One ✦ 11


Above: Most of the railroad tracks

in Houston County have been

consolidated under the Norfolk

Southern Railroad.

Top, right: An early locomotive.

Below: The historical marker at

Elberta Depot Historic Center.

83,000 troops on its 21,480 acres. Later, “On

October 12, 1940, Congressman Carl Vinson’s

office announced that Camp Wheeler would be

rebuilt and was scheduled to be ready for operation

by March 15, 1941. The camp’s first commander

was Colonel A. R. Emery for whom Emery

Highway was later named” (Maffeo). During five

years of operation, 217,878 soldiers trained on the

Camp Wheeler firing ranges and 4,700 prisoners

of war worked through camps operating under its

administration. At this same time, Cochran Field

operated near the Bibb and Houston County line

on Echeconee Creek, and the United States Army

Air Corp began exploration of a larger base establishment

in Middle or South Georgia. This was the

result of a Macon policy of offering free land for

defense installations to create jobs for the area. It

helped Macon gain a naval ordinance plant (operated

by Reynolds Metals), “an infantry replacement

camp (Camp Wheeler), and an Army Air Corps

pilot training facility (Cochran Field)” (5).

12 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Mildred’s Store.

According to A Pictorial History of Robins Air Force

Base, “In 1939, there were twenty-one Army air

installations in the continental United States. By

the end of 1941, there were 114 completed or

under construction—including the one which is

now known as Robins Air Force Base [1982]

(Prologue). The Air Corps was renamed the Army

Air Forces on June 22, 1941.

Chapter One ✦ 13


CHAPTER TWO

C OMMUNITY

C ONNECTIONS

Bond Minutewomen, 1945.

The New Georgia Encyclopedia explains that “For nearly fifty years the farm community was known

as York, after the federal post office located in a country store.” Then the Georgia Florida Railroad

arrived “to connect the rail line between Macon and Perry. It changed everything. The chief engineer,

William H. Wells, became friends with a plantation owner, Henry Feagin, Jr., who donated [land] on

which to build a train station. When the job was completed, Feagin named the station and the

community Wellston, after Wells. For the next sixty years the area remained a whistle stop

surrounded by dairy farms, corn fields, peach orchards, and pecan groves” (New Georgia

Encyclopedia).

A Feagin family story indicates that in 1865, after Union forces captured Confederate President

Jefferson Davis in Irvinville, Georgia, the delegation traveled north and camped near the Feagin

home: “Two of the Davis daughters [Davis’ family followed him in a separate party during the escape

but reunited for the trip north] accepted Judge Feagin’s offer of hospitality and lodging for the night.

The Feagins sent refreshments to the former president and his wife. The events of that night were

recalled by President Davis many years later [1887] as he was making a tour of Georgia” (4).

Another event that sparked excitement in Wellston happened on May 18, 1899. A newspaper

article, in the files at the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau titled “Fire at Wellston,”

reports, “The town of Wellston, this county, barely escaped destruction by fire last Tuesday afternoon.

Sparks from a passing engine caused the fire. The G.S. & F. [Georgia Southern & Florida] railroad

woodshed and rack, a quantity of word, and a freight care were burned. The depot building, and Mr.

Watson’s store were in great danger, and their contents were removed. Hard work prevented the

depot from catching, and the other buildings were thus saved. The afternoon trains were

considerably delayed.”

During the Great Depression, Georgia leaders looked for ways to provide jobs and build the economy.

Hitler's rise spurred employment in the defense industry.. A collaborative effort began which involved,

the City of Macon, Congressman Carl Vinson, and Bostwick Watson, among others: “The City of Macon

14 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


and Bibb County purchased 3,108 acres from…

local farm families for just over $97,000 and

donated the property to the army air forces in

August 1941” (New Georgia Encyclopedia).

This acquisition was a continuation of

Middle Georgia’s efforts to bring jobs and people

to the area by making defense jobs available.

Women helped raise money for the war

effort. They worked in factories and held

positions in the armed forces.

When the Air Force base arrived, it signaled

changes for the Feagin family. A Pictorial History

of Robins Air Force Base says that,

The land which is now the site of Robins Air

Force Base was assembled from numerous

individual property owners but much of it was

once a part of the Feagin Plantation. In fact, the

grave of Henry Feagin (1795-1842) is on Robins

Air Force Base in the tiny cemetery on 10th

street, in the block between E and F streets. His

home, ‘The Oaks,’ was also on Robins Air Force

Base and was still in existence when the base was

built. For a time, during World War II, it was

used as the enlisted men’s Guest House. In 1966,

the house was sold and moved away from

Robins AFB (2).

Guide to the Robins Region Georgia says, “The

thriving city that is now Warner Robins was

once a small town known as Wellston, which

housed 50 residents and served as a train stop

for local farmers in the early 20th century. In the

1930s, the U.S. government entertained the

thought of building an Army Air Corps Depot in

metro Atlanta; that is, until [a Middle Georgia

partnership promoted] Wellston [and] promised

to build the depot cheaper and faster than its

urban competitor could” (3).

Members of the Feagin family remained in

Warner Robins and later gained employment on

the base.

Groundbreaking for Robins Air Field

occurred across a dirt road “in September

[1941]. Wellston town leaders, led by Bostwick

Watson and his brothers, helped win the

contract, at least in part, by donating land for

the town’s first school and other civic buildings.

[These] leaders also obtained a promise from

Wellston Housing Company to construct 2,000

affordable homes in 1942 and more later” (New

Georgia Encyclopedia). Nashville, Tennessee;

Atlanta, Dublin, Albany, Milledgeville, Cordele,

and Vienna, Georgia” were “also interested in

the new Air Corps facility” (Head 3). Atlanta,

who favored an Ellenwood site, and Macon,

who favored the Wellston site, were the final

two who competed for this contract. Wellston

(later Warner Robins) won.

As progress on the new base began, issues of

housing the civilian population arose. Macon

planned to build housing for workers in Bibb

Top, left: Nurses at Robins Air Force

Base during World War II.

Above: A photograph of the first

official blue Air Force uniforms.

Chapter Two ✦ 15


Above: Much of the property

originally designated for the

Robins Air Field belonged to the

Feagin family.

Top, right: A telegram from Carl

Vinson announcing the selection of

Wellston, Georgia, as the site of a new

Air Corps depot in 1941.

Below: A train passing

through Avondale.

and Houston counties. First base commander,

Col. Charles E. Thomas, Jr., “met with the Macon

Chamber of Commerce shortly after his arrival in

Middle Georgia in early November 1941. He

listened to the report of progress [on housing

construction] and he wasn’t impressed. What he

said must have left the Maconites stunned. Not

only was the available housing insufficient, but it

was being built in the wrong place. He wanted it

across the highway from the depot—not in Bibb

County, but in Houston County. In fact, he

wanted a city for civilian workers with movie

theaters, drugstores, fire protection, and

sidewalks” (A Pictorial History of Robins Air Force

Base 25). Macon proposed moving its planned

housing to southern Bibb County across from

Cochran Field, but wartime shortages dictated

two things. First, housing must be adjacent to

Robins Field because automobile tires became a

rationed item to support military use. Second,

other shortages meant that housing would be “a

subdivision around which a city would grow”

instead of the planned city Thomas envisioned

(25). The Wellston Housing Company began its

first 250 houses in Robins Manor on July 30,

1942. Many are still in use today. The official

name change from Wellston to Warner Robins

occurred September 1, 1942, and the base

“became the Warner Robins Army Air Depot on

October 14, 1942” (A Pictorial History of Robins Air

Force Base 26).

16 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Top: Workers with Flint Electric.

Middle: The gas station in Wellston.

Bottom: A map of Wellston.

Chapter Two ✦ 17


Top: First School in Wellston

Middle: Examples of early

base housing.

Bottom: Homes and neighborhoods

originally built as base housing are

being used today by Warner Robins

citizens.

And so, the daily commute began and growth

became a way of life.

More than one community grew from York and

Wellston to become part of Warner Robins during

the 1940s. Jody Town is still a little south of

Robins main gate in the Second and Third Street,

Linwood Drive area. African-American workers

and their families settled here near Memorial

18 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Top: Commercial Circle.

Middle and Bottom: Early base

construction.

Chapter Two ✦ 19


Park. A major form of entertainment was baseball.

Gabrielle Dawkins interviewed Marvis Roberts for

a 2016 news piece called “Jody Town Community

Reunites Again.” In it she quoted Mr. Roberts as

saying, “‘This was our home park now. Memorial

Park. This is where we played all of our games.

On the weekend…the only thing in Jody Town

was baseball.’” He emphasized baseball saying,

“‘We had our own bus. We had a traveling set of

uniforms. We were real organized’” (qtd. In

Dawkins). Jody Town had the Rams and the Jets

and several players moved from there to the

major leagues. Jerome Stephens was on one of the

teams. Not only did his family help build the

base, they helped establish educational

opportunities for the community. For Dawkins’

news piece, he said, “It’s great to see people I’ve

not seen in a long time. It’s a joy to see them.”

Top: This postcard shows both the

Wellston and Warner Robins

postmarks and is addressed to Gene

Espy. Mr. Epsy was the second person

to through-hike the Appalacian Trail

and wrote The Trail of My Life about

that experience. At publication of

Trains, Planes and Heroes: A

History of Warner Robins, Mr. Espy

lived in Macon.

Middle: The Robins Air Force Base

front gate, c. the 1940s.

Bottom: The Robins Air Force Base

front gate, c. the 1950s.

20 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Left: The Robins Air Force Base front

gate, c. the 1960s.

Below: A meeting in Sam Nunn’s

office to discuss extending

Russell Parkway.

In 1971, the Central of Georgia Railroad

merged their 1951 purchase of the Savannah &

Atlanta, into the Central of Georgia. This included

the Brinson Railway, which began in 1906. Its

connection, the Savannah & Atlanta appeared in

1915. The Central Rail Road & Banking Company

of Georgia began construction in 1835. It was

controlled by Illinois Central from 1909-1948 and

by Frisco from 1956-1961. In 1963, the Central of

Georgia became a subsidiary of Southern.

Southern and Central of Georgia also merged in

1971. The Georgia & Florida Railroad formed

from four shorter lines in 1906, was bought by

Southern Railway in 1962, and became part of

Southern’s Central of Georgia Railroad in 1971.

In 1981, the Elizabeth City & Norfolk

Railroad, founded in 1880, became Norfolk

Southern. Southern bought it and merged it

with Carolina & Northwestern in 1974. They

separated the two in 1981 so that the Norfolk

Southern name could be used for the merger.

Also in 1981, Norfolk Western purchased the

Illinois Terminal Railroad Company, which

started as a streetcar system for Champaign-

Urbana in 1890, then moved away from interurban

transport to freight by 1956.

In 1982, the Southern Railroad joined Norfork

& Western to become part of the greater Norfolk

Southern Corporation. Chartered in 1850 as

Norfolk & Petersburg and grouped with Atlantic,

Chapter Two ✦ 21


Watson Boulevard.

Mississippi & Ohio in 1881. South Carolina Canal

& Railroad, 1833, joined the newer Southern

Railway in 1894. This eventually included

Alabama Great Southern; Cincinnati, New Orleans

& Texas Pacific; New Orleans & Northwestern.

Norfolk & Western acquired several railroads

before they all became Norfolk Southern.

The Norfolk Southern Railway was

established December 31, 1990, after Norfolk &

Western became a subsidiary of Southern.

Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway began in 1873,

merged into a successor of Norfolk & Western –

a Norfolk Southern subsidiary in 1988, but was

sold in 1990 to a group reusing the Wheeling &

Lake Erie name.

Consolidated Rail Corporation was formed in

1976 after the failure of Penn Central and

acquisition of six smaller roads. In 1998,

Norfolk Southern and CSX purchased and

divided the Conrail, beginning operations in

1999. The Conrail brand now represents a local

freight provider.

22 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


FROM THE PEOPLE

“In March of 1946 my father, Joe Dembowski, was transferred to the Army

Air Forces base at Wellston Air Depot (presently Warner Robins AFB). My

family, dad, mother, older brother, sister, and I were flown to the base in a

small military plane. I was five months old at the time. I think I have a picture

of mom holding my sister, dad holding my brother, and the pilot holding me.

It was after the war, and my mother, Mary Dembowski, told me it was like a

frontier ghost town, with many houses just abandoned with furnishings left

in them. People would go and take what they needed from them.

“Soon afterwards, when dad was sent to Japan to serve with the Army

of Occupation, mother stayed in Warner Robins with us three toddlers.

After he returned, they chose to make Warner Robins our home. Joe and

Mary quickly became leaders in their church and the community, giving

back to the town they called home. Among the boys in her Boy Scout den,

were a future governor and an astronaut. Joe was to Boy Scouts what

Mary was to Girl Scouts. Both influenced generations of Warner Robins

children through their examples and caring.

“Mary taught girls that we could be anything we wanted to be, if we

worked at it. She taught independence and self-esteem, and she modeled

what it meant to be a strong woman, inspiring generations of women. When

her own girls were gone from the home, she established a Girl Scout Troop

with the young women at the Sheltered Workshop working the Junior Girl

Scout program. Those young ladies, who were often only on the receiving

end of giving, learned that they, too, had worth to give and share with others.

“Mary was instrumental in teaching at least three generations of local

youth how to swim, first at the old dormitory pool, then as director of

swimming for Parks and Recreation Department for the city. At the same time, Joe, also a Red Cross certified water safety instructor,

taught adults to swim in the evening. Before swimming pools were common place and easily accessible, many never had the opportunity

to learn to swim. Both were community heroes, vested in the worth of every person and dedicated to challenging them to reach high

and persevere through any difficulties. A classmate shared with me at my high school fifty-year reunion that ‘They believed in me when

I didn’t believe in myself, and so I tried, and found out I could! I am forever grateful they were part of my upbringing!’

Warner Robins was a great place to grow up. Pleasant Hill Road was on the far edge of town. I have memories of riding as fast as

I could down that hill to get up enough speed to make it to the top of the next where it dead-ended onto Green Street. We picked

wild blackberries where the Galleria Shopping Center is today and gathered pecans from stately trees in the old dormitory area at the

corner of Green Street and Davis Drive. We had an old farm fire bell high on a 4-by-4 pole in our back yard, and the house rules were

that when it rang, we had five minutes to get home. I guess you would call us ‘free range kids’ today. We knew we had to be home

when the street lights came on. I delivered papers for The Warner Robins Sun, a weekly paper. We had an old Willy's Jeep Station

Wagon, and on summer Sunday afternoons, Daddy would drive slowly along Highway 247 from the main gate to the seven bridges

section looking for discarded soda bottles. We would take them home, wash them out with soapy water and small pebbles for agitation,

and redeem at the grocery store for the deposit money. Regular soda bottles were worth two cents, and the big Canada Dry bottles

were a nickel. That change was saved in a Liberty Bell bank and was used to fund mini vacations--day trips around the state.

“I remember when the Cuban missile crisis happened, the base closed mid-afternoon, and everyone was sent home with

instructions to watch the CBS Evening News and be ready to get back to base within thirty minutes if called. Those next weeks and

months were tense times at the base and in the homes, especially because we were within presumed range of those missiles and a

possible target.

“Mary Dembowski lived to age ninety-three and was a member of the Pioneers Club in Warner Robins. You had to have lived

there by 1950 to belong.”

- Joan Dembowski Pottinger

Chapter Two ✦ 23


WELCOME NEIGHBOR TO THE “ CITY OF FRIENDSHIP”:

DIRECTORY WARNER ROBINS, GEORGIA FASTEST GROWING CITY

“Just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Force began to build at Wellston, Georgia; then an unincorporated

village of less than fifty people, what is now Warner Robins Air Material Area, then known as Wellston Air Depot.

“Immediately after the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor activities changed to high gear! Contractors with their personnel and equipment

flocked in from all points of the compass. The personnel was typical of the times and undertaking; mostly good people, but

containing the expected number of the rougher element, of both sexes. All sorts of equipment, from the largest to the smallest was

moved to the site over the single-track railroad and the narrow dirt road, which is now the modern four-lane highway to Macon.

“All types of businesses sprang up, principally along what is now First and Second streets. These early business enterprises

embraced everything from fortune tellers in tents and jalopy automobiles to the uncovered wooden movie show, which is now the

RAMA Theatre. In its early days this theatre resembled, from the outside at least, a country nickelodeon of forty or fifty years ago.

“Troops were moving to the air field which attracted the usual number of so-called ‘camp followers.’ Order was maintained in

the town by one deputy sheriff, Mr. W. W. Martin, civilian guards and Military Police from the air base. To afford the city fathers

a place to house those arrested, the air base erected a barracks building on North Second Street. This building served as city hall

and jail. The first prisoner confined in the jail released himself by the simple expedient of kicking out a board and just walking

away. However, he finally became so drunk that his recapture was very simple.

“To meet housing needs, Fickling and Walker, the FHA, Mr. L.B. Eleanor and do-it-yourself ‘carpenters’ were rapidly turning

watermelon and peanut patches into what is now known as Zeigler Housing Units, The Manor, Eleanor Homes and Dormitory

Area. Many of these structures were unique and interesting, especially those constructed from packing crates and scrap lumber.

“In the meantime, those hardy souls who could really rough it utilized all sorts of makeshift living quarters. Except for the

absence of horses and six shooters, Wellston at that time very much resembled a gold rush boom town of frontier days.”

Wellborn Cemetery, located just south of the

Russell Parkway entrance to Robins Air Force

Base, provides a final resting place for several

early Warner Robins area families. Names include

Booth, Bryant, Floyd, McBride, Scarborough, and

Wellborn. Wellborn Mills was closer to the

Ocmulgee and gave its name to the area early on.

The Gazetteer of the State of Georgia mentions that

Wellborn Mills had a post office in 1837 (from A

Pictorial History of Robins Air Force Base 3). The

village appears on the 1847 Bonner Map as the

nearest town to present day Warner Robins. Mrs.

Members of a Warner Robins baseball

team, along with city and county

officials. Baseball teams were a source

of pride for local communities like

Jody Town.

24 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


FROM THE PEOPLE

“I am Charlie Scott, Jr. and was born August 6, 1942 in Grovania,

Georgia/Houston County to parents Charlie Scott, Sr. and Annie Mae Scott. I am

the oldest of twelve children. My father was a Southern Railroad employee. Later

the name changed to Norfolk Southern Railroad. As a boy growing up in

Grovania, I went to school in Methodist and Baptist churches. All schools were

segregated. Later we went to a one room school building with grades 1-7 in the

same room. We just used different books. Grovania had a post office. All mail

was general delivery. The locomotive stopped to pick up people and mail.

Grovania had Ellis Grocery Store, the train depot, and a cotton gin. It was a

farming community. We lived in Railroad Section houses. There were four

houses and one larger house for the foreman. My father, Charlie Scott, had a

brother who lived in one of those houses. He had another brother, Cornelius

Scott, Jr., who lived in section houses in Kathleen and worked for the same

railroad. All section houses closed in the early 1950s and all three brothers

moved to Warner Robins. They bought land where Scott Boulevard is today. I’ve

had three brothers work for the railroad: Calvin, Lamar, Kendal and Terry still

work for Norfolk Southern.”

- Charlie Scott, Jr. (undated from files at Warner Robins Convention and Visitors Bureau).

Top: Lieutenant Charlie Scott.

Middle: The children of Lieutenant

Charlie Scott (from left ro right):

Charlie Scott, Jr.; Willie Frank Scott;

Willie Matthew Scott; Jessie Lee Scott;

Calvin Scott; Mary Lois Scott Riley;

Vera Scott Walton; Edward Scott;

Elverna Scott Cherry; Emma Jean

Scott; Terry Scott; and Lama

Kendall Scott.

Bottom: Grovania, Georgia.

Chapter Two ✦ 25


FROM THE PEOPLE

“Our family moved to Warner Robins in 1979, and one of the main reasons was for my brother and I to attend Central

Fellowship Christian Academy. My dad later got a job at RAFB.”

- Joy McCammon

“In 1994, my family moved to the Warner Robins/ South Bibb County area. I left in 2000 to attend college, and immediately

after earning a commission in the AF, I was sent to RAFB in 2005 for my first duty station.”

- Ben Elton

“Castle Air Force Base in California closed [in 1995]. I landed here. Warner Robins Police Department hired me two days before

Gwinnett Police Department offered.”

- Tommy Williams

“We moved to Warner Robins in March 1996. Chris, my step-dad, was part of the new JSTARS unit at RAFB. Then, in 1998,

he did his Korea tour for a year. When he came back, we were supposed to get transferred to another base. Because I was a senior

in high school, they let him stay at Robins. I have since moved to the Atlanta area, but he and mom still live in Warner Robins

and do not have any plans of moving.”

- Emily Denny Bishop

“Sam and I moved here in 1968 when he was stationed at Robins Air Force Base as Squadron Commander of the base hospital.

We were here three years and away for two when he got his CPA license. Then we moved back here and never left.”

- Dianne Ward Dean

“My family came to the Warner Robins area in 1983. Dad researched options and decided this is where he wanted to retire

from the Air Force. His decision was precipitated by his receiving orders to Minot, North Dakota. As an officer with twenty-five

years in, he was able to secure a transfer to Robins. He retired six months later and ended up doing another twenty years on base.

My entire family is from Ohio, and I was having Deliverance-type visions when we first got here. I have since fallen in love with

the South, and Georgia particularly. I don’t want to live anywhere else.”

- Lee Vanosdol

“In 1999, Dad worked civil service at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. When they were told it would be shutting

down, my parents thought Warner Robins would be a nice place to raise us with the coast, Disney, and the Blue Ridge and Smokey

mountains close by.”

- Vanessa Smith

“I started work as an Industrial Engineer at Robins AFB in 1971.”

- Lou Crouch

“Our family moved to the Warner Robins area twice, in 1985 and in 1993. Both times were due to the Air Force assigning us

to Robins Air Force Base.”

- Patti Ferrell Bedford

Charity Wellborn Bryant’s tombstone, in the

Wellborn Cemetery, notes that she migrated to

Houston County, Georgia from Wake County,

North Carolina. She died here in 1909.

Shiloh Cemetery, on the line separating

Houston County from Peach County, was lost to

its community, but now is found. A church

building sat on the site from 1831–1961. Mr.

Reggie Holloman was one of the last survivors of

that congregation. He attempted to keep the

cemetery, which was lost because the older

road was severed by modern subdivision

26 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Wellborn Cemetery is the final resting

place for many area families.

Chapter Two ✦ 27


construction. Late in his life, neighbors, a

community college, and other organizations

stepped in to help.

A CONVERSATION WITH

REGGIE HOLLOMAN ABOUT

HISTORIC SHILOH CHURCH

AND CEMETERY

I joined [Shiloh] church in 1942. I was born

in ’37. They used to christen the infants in the

Methodist church, you know. I started down

here to church ever since I can remember.

We went to church here all through World

War II. I tore it [the church building] down, me

and my farm crew. Part of it was fat lighter—put

together with wooden pegs, and it never had a

coat of paint on it. It had rough boards—

this wide (12 to 18 inches). The inside was

painted. It was painted white. It had that

beaded ceiling and wooden shingles. It was a

big old church with two doors. The ladies

went in on one side, and the men went in on the

other side. It never had electricity, no plumbing.

The fact is, they didn’t even have restrooms.

When we had church down there, people would

go out in the woods. They’d say, “I got to go to

the bushes.”

That old tree, right there, when it was

smaller, it had rings in it where you tied the

horses. They’d take ‘em loose from the buggies.

Of course, that was a little before my time.

But, the tree still had them old rings in it. The

tree just growed over em and all. I’d be scared to

get in there with a chain saw. You’d probably hit

one of those iron rings. A lot of times, they’d

have a feed bag, and feed the horse while they

were in church.

We had services once a month, because we

were on a circuit church, with Byron and

Powersville. We’d have church on this Sunday;

and next Sunday, if you wanted to go to church,

you’d go to Powersville. The pastor, I believe,

was named Smith. You’d come to church

about dinner time, or right after dinner, and stay

all evening. Every now and then, we’d have

dinner on the grounds. At one time it was a big

church, but by the time I was born, it was

playing out.

One of the families who joined Shiloh

Church was Statham. They were from North

28 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Opposite: Gravestones in

Shiloh Cemetery.

Carolina. Part of the family came here when they

opened this territory up. Down there, they had

a ferry that crossed the river. On some of

these old maps, you’ll find that ferry. Part of the

family came here when they opened this

territory up. If it wasn’t for the people buried

here, there wouldn’t be a Byron or a Warner

Robins, Georgia.”

Above: In the mid-nineteenth century

parishioners at Shiloh Church would

tie their horses to the trees outside

the church. This tree would have iron

rings hammered into their trunks.

Bottom: Members of the Shiloh

Cemetery Team from Georgia

Military College.

Chapter Two ✦ 29


CHAPTER THREE

C OMPETITION

Teams from Warner Robins won the

Little League World Series in 2007,

2009 and 2010.

Warner Robins’ birth ties directly to competition. In competing for more Middle Georgia jobs after

the Great Depression, the City of Macon stepped into competition for new defense contracts which led

to the reopening and strengthening of Camp Wheeler (1917-1919 and 1940-1946), the development

of Cochran Field (1941-1945), the establishment of the Naval Ordnance Plant (1941-1965), and the

birth of Robins Air Field in Middle Georgia (established 1941). Then, a competition for housing

erupted, the City of Macon believing that housing should be in South Bibb County, and a new base

commander, Colonel Charles Thomas, believing that housing must be in Houston County adjacent to

the base. Thomas and Warner Robins won that competition, and the first named public school in

Warner Robins was named for Thomas’ son, Charles Thomas III, who was killed in a training accident.

That sense of competition remains. Warner Robins hosts championships for Little League and

brings home World Series trophies of its own, produces state and national champions in high school

athletics, sends players to professional sports, sends winners of the Miss Warner Robins pageant to

Miss Georgia, Miss America, and to Miss Universe pageants, and sends politicians to service at the

state, local, and worldwide levels. It goes further, though. Beyond competition lies a deep sense that

people make a difference in the world. The competitors and heroes, listed in this chapter, use their

strength to build communities and make the lives of others better. Each has a personal platform:

education, Children’s Miracle Network, disaster relief, Special Olympics, and the list goes on and on.

A community college student said, “I’m always looking for an opportunity to serve.” By the time he

finished his two-year degree at Warner Robins’ Georgia Military College campus in 2018, the young

international student earned over 500 hours of community service. This spirit is what keeps Warner

Robins moving forward. Of the military bases and support units listed in this chapter, only one

remains active, and that’s Robins. The spirits of competition, readiness, and service continue to

contribute to the viability of Robins Air Force Base and the continued growth of Warner Robins.

There’s a long-standing claim that Claude Lewis invented the game of tee-ball in Warner Robins

in 1958. Whether tee-ball was first played here or not, the city maintains a Little League tradition

that few other cities match. In 2007, Warner Robins defeated a team from Japan to win the Little

30 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Little League softball team won the Little League

Softball World Series in 2009, and then again in

2010. In 2011, when the baseball team returned

to the World Series, SBNation reporter Jeremiah

Oshan stated, “Warner Robins Little League

has been here before. In fact, the team from

Georgia has now represented the Southeast

Region in the Little League World Series three

times over the last five years” (“LLWS 2011:

How Warner Robins’ Little League Baseball

Team Got Here”). Although the team did not

win in 2011, they came close. Jake Fromm, a

2018 quarterback for the University of Georgia,

pitched in that series.

Top: Miss Warner Robins Burma

Davis won the crown of Miss Georgia

in 1968.

League World Series. The baseball team played

on national television before “tens of thousands

of spectators,” got to meet President George W.

Bush, and they appeared on The David Letterman

Show (Kovac, Jr.) In 2008, the Little League

International Board of Directors chose Warner

Robins as the Southeast Region Headquarters of

Little League Baseball. Its beautiful stadium

began hosting games in 2010. Then the softball

team came to bat. The Warner Robins American

Middle and bottom: Warner Robins is

home to the Little League International

Southeastern Regional Headquarters.

Chapter Three ✦ 31


CHAPTER FOUR

C HURCHES

Sacred Heart Catholic Church has

served the community since 1945.

Warner Robins, Houston County, and Middle Georgia are part of the United States’ Bible Belt. Area

churches were established following agreements with Native Americans. Mission work began earlier.

Hernando DeSoto brought missionaries in 1540. Namesake of Hawkinsville Road—which runs

between Robins Air Force Base and the city of Warner Robins—Benjamin Hawkins, allowed

Moravian missionaries to teach at his Flint River Indian Agency before 1812. He brought them from

Old Salem, North Carolina to teach weaving, but allowed them to teach the Bible after hours. It is

impossible to trace the origins of Christianity in the south, and therefore, impossible to form an

inclusive list of churches. Here is a partial list of historic churches in and around Warner Robins and

their organization dates:

• Henderson Baptist Church, 1821

• Haynesville Baptist Church, 1824

• Henderson Methodist Church, 1824

• Shiloh Methodist Church, 1831

• Asbury Chapel, 1835

• Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, 1840

• Lane’s Chapel, 1841

• Pleasant Hill Primitive Baptist Church, 1845

• Henderson Methodist Church as Wesley

Chapel Methodist Church, 1858

• Hickory Grove Baptist Church, 1872

• Elko Baptist Church, 1890

• Sandy Run Baptist Church, 1892

• Grovania Methodist Church as Haneyville

Methodist Church, 1893

• Centerville Baptist Church, 1900

• Bonaire Baptist Church, 1909

• Cochran Field Baptist Church (on Cochran

Field Army Air Base) now Central Fellowship,

1942

• Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1945

• All Saints Episcopal Church, 1950

• Memorial Heights Baptist Church, 1954

As population and diversity grew, so did the number and diversity of churches. Most of the

historic churches still hold regular worship services. Again, an inclusive list is not possible, but here

32 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


is a partial list of newer churches in and around

Warner Robins in 2018:

• A New Beginning Church of God

• Abundant Life Church of God

• Adams-Smith Tabernacle A.M.E.

• Central Baptist Church

• Christ Chapel

• Christ Sanctified Holy Church

• Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church

• Christ United Methodist Church

• Christian Fellowship Baptist Church

• City Church

• Covenant Presbyterian Church

• Crosspoint Baptist Church

• First Baptist Church

• First Presbyterian Church

• First United Methodist Church

• Friendship Baptist Church

• Harvest Church

• Inglesia Cristiana Remanso de Paz

• Inglesias Bautista la Cruz de Cristo

• Mt. Nebo Primitive Baptist Church

• New Hope International

• New Life Seventh-Day Adventist Church

• Oakland Baptist Church

• Second Baptist Church

• Southside Baptist Church

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

• The River Church

• Trinity United Methodist Church

Warner Robins C.M.E. Church

Warner Robins Church of Christ

Warner Robins Hispanic Four-Square Church

Warner Robins Korean Church

• Word in Season Ministries

According to Dr. William P. Head, historian

for the 78 ABW, “The need for an Air Corps

installation in Georgia grew out of a change of

policy in the War Department. Prior to World

War II, the servicing of military aircraft was a

relatively minor business. The dramatic success

of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) in France

and the Balkans (southeastern Europe) forced

the Army to take a hard look at building a

modern air force. This growth of air power

confronted the Amy Air Corps with increased

responsibilities in the areas of supply and

maintenance. One result was the need for more

air depots to service the additional aircraft.

Pertinent to our story is the fact that one of

these was planned for the southeastern United

States” (Through the Camera’s Eye: A Photographic

Survey of the Origins of Robins Field, 1941-1945).

The name of what most Middle Georgians

call Robins Air Force Base changes with its

mission. On June 16, 1941, “Congressman Carl

Vinson sent a telegraph from Washington [D.C.]

to local civic dignitaries, led by Macon Mayor

Charles Bowden, announcing that the U.S. War

Department had selected …Wellston, Georgia,

as the location of a new southeastern Army Air

maintenance and supply depot” (“Robins AFB

and 78 ABW Heritage Pamphlet”).

Through the Camera’s Eye: A Photographic

Survey of the Origins of Robins Field, 1941-1945

says that, “The land was located along the

unpaved Hawkinsville Highway (today Georgia

State 247), approximately 16 miles south of

Macon. Rail facilities were near, the site being

across the highway from the Wellston (modern

day Warner Robins) station” (Head). At that time,

Wellston consisted mainly of the Carter Dairy

Farm, Wellston Train Stop, Thompson’s Café, a

gasoline station, and area farms. Groundbreaking

for the new defense depot occurred September 1,

1941. Then, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor

on December 7. Construction accelerated.

Workers completed the first section of flight line

Robins Air Force Base

headquarters, 1953.

Chapter Four ✦ 33


Opposite: Presidents Lyndon B.

Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy

Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W.

Bush are among the world leaders

who have visited Robins Air Force

Base over the years.

by April, and the first aircraft arrived for

maintenance by May of 1942. Although the

United States had entered World War II, local

dignitaries wanted a dedication of the former

dairy farm turned military installation. On

September 1, 1942, they encouraged base

commander Col. Charles E. Thomas to hold a

ceremony and to name the base for his mentor,

Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins:

“Gen. Robins was commander of the Materiel

Division (near Dayton, Ohio) from 1935—1939”

(Head). In his speech Col. Thomas said, “I doubt

that any single individual has had any more to do

with the development of what we now know as

the Air Service Command than Brigadier General

Augustine Warner Robins.…It is most gratifying

that such an important project bears the name of

one who held supply and maintenance functions

so close to his heart, and who inspired many

improvements in the performance of these

functions” (“Robins AFB and 78 ABW Heritage

Pamphlet”). The base grew to be Georgia’s

“largest industrial facility” by the end of World

War II (“Robins AFB and 78 ABW Heritage

Pamphlet”). General Robins’ wife and daughters

attended the dedication ceremonies, and

dignitaries continue to follow their footsteps to

Robins. These include former first lady Madame

Chiang Kai-shek of China, President Anwar El-

Sadat of Egypt, Prime Minister Menachem Begin

of Israel, Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Al

Gore, and Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson,

FROM THE PEOPLE

“The following is about what I was told by my parents who moved here to Warner Robins from Ohio in 1943. The original

Sacred Heart Church corner stone still marks the 1945 year it was built. Before that time Masses were celebrated in the USO hall

attached behind the Warner Robins City Hall building, which was replaced by the Nola Brantley Memorial Library in 1976. My

first recollection of Sacred Heart Church was that of the brick church that seated about 200 people before the choir loft was built

around 1957.

“The architectural design with the exposed beams and floor plan is very similar to the St. Peter Clavier Church built probably

about the same time in Macon. I remember the Sundays of my parents driving my two older brothers and younger sister to Mass

from Cochran Field to Sacred Heart Church on what was then a two-lane highway from Macon to Warner Robins. Before the Catholic

schools in the area were built, some of the parishioners would travel to Macon on Sunday and bring the Sisters of Mercy to and from

Warner Robins to teach Sunday School (Catechism) along with other lay ministers of the parish in the old barracks building that was

moved to the church grounds before Sacred Heart School was built in 1956. That old wooden building served as school and later

the activity hall for several ministry organizations. I was fortunate to go through the forth and fifth grades at St. Joseph School when

it was first built on High St. in Macon. The Presentation Sisters had arrived from Ireland in time for the new Sacred Heart School to

start in 1956. I was in the seventh and eighth grades and in the second graduation class of Sacred Heart School.

“My first experience with airplanes was when we lived in Cochran Field shortly after the war shut down the Army training

base. I would ride on by brother’s handle bars to the air field between the hangers and watch the prop driven planes land and

taxi up to the terminal. I was then six and couldn’t believe the size, sound, and power of those airplanes. This was well before jet

airlines came into service. As it was with most citizens of Warner Robins, we occasionally felt the effects of the now defunct C-

124, nicknamed “old shaky,” would make its flight pattern over our house. The term “shake, rattle, and roll” came into use long

before Chuck Berry wrote his lyrics. One evening my dad was flying back from Ohio in his single engine Cessna. He had said

before he left that he would circle the house on Shirley Drive in Warner Robins as a signal to meet him on return to Cochran

Field Airport. We kids were all excited as he tipped his wings and mom was shouting to get in the car. Where were the cell phones

back then? On just about any day at Mass you could hear the propeller engines running up, and the train horn blasting from the

trains that ran along the rails east of the city. The propeller sounds of the past have changed to the sounds of jet engines, and the

startling sonic boom, “sound of peace.” The train horns sound the same from the diesel train engines.

“However, I must confess my racing on an unexpected occasion down to the track to see a very rare steam engine chug by.

Their whistles have a very distinct sound. My experiences with trains and planes really were not that involved until I became an

adult, mainly following the footsteps of my brothers in service to the Air Force. Yes, they are my heroes. But that’s another story

covering another country and assigned duty stations. It’s still good to have settled in good ole Warner Robins, Georgia.”

- John Wagner, Sr., 2018

34 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Richard M. Nixon, James E. “Jimmy” Carter,

George W. Bush, and William Jefferson “Bill”

Clinton of the United States.

According to Guide to the Robins Region

Georgia, “The base was a turning point in

Wellston’s history, increasing the population,

reputation, and, in a sense, bringing the

hibernating community to life…. Today, Warner

Robins is called ‘The International City’

and enterains a growing, diverse population

and culture” (5).

Chapter Four ✦ 35


CHAPTER FIVE

C OMMERCE

The April 1953 tornado.

Virtually wiped off the map by a catastrophic April 1953 tornado, which “left in its wake 18 dead,

350 injured, 1,000 homeless, and $10 million in damage,” Robins has grown from its original

4,000 to 6,935 acres (A Pictorial History of Robins Air Force Base, 62). Today, its runways accommodate

the largest aircraft in the world including the C-5B, C-17 [and on March 28, 1997] the NASA

Space Shuttle piggybacked on a Boeing 747” (“Robins AFB and 78 ABW Heritage Pamphlet”). Robins

AFB, Georgia “remains one of the nation’s greatest defense assets” (“Robins AFB and 78 ABW

Heritage Pamphlet”).

In 1929, the Great Depression hit the United States. Unemployed men took to the highways as

hobos. Two of these men walked into the store at U.S. Highway 41, the North-South corridor of the

nation, and Dunbar Road. The men told Lester David Holleman (b. 1875), the store owner, “We are

going to rob this store. If you stay behind the counter, you will be fine. If you follow us, we will kill

you.” When they started out, Holleman pulled his shotgun from beneath the counter and followed

them into the yard. They killed him there. There is still a store in the same spot today. Holleman is

buried in historic Shiloh Cemetery behind today’s Eagle Springs Elementary School.

Today, commerce has moved from small country stores to nationwide chains and military logistics.

Over 21,000 civilian and military personnel work at Robins Air Force Base. According to the Georgia

Public Library Service projections for 2018, more people work at Robins Air Force Base than live in

sixty-six of Georgia's 159 counties.. The Guide to Robins Region Georgia says that “Today, Robins Air

Force Base consists of almost 7,000 acres and is the largest industrial complex in Georgia” (68). The

base impacts the economies of twenty-five Middle Georgia counties and is roughly bounded by the

Ocmulgee River, Highway 96, Highway 247, and Echeconee Creek. Across 247, Norfolk Southern

Railway runs north and south. “Currently, more than 120 aerospace companies maintain facilities in

the Robins Region to provide aircraft repair, avionics, electronics, engineering, procurement, and

36 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Left: Damage caused by the 1953

tornado.

Below: Pleasant Hill Primitive

Baptist Church.

logistics support” for the base (Guide to the

Robins Region Georgia 69). Immediately west of

the railroad tracks lies the city of Warner

FROM THE PEOPLE

“The streets named off Pleasant Hill Road

are named for my family members. The

Stalnaker family owned about half of this

town. We have been here since it was called

Wellston. My father had a business called

Rolovalve. It was where Home Depot is now.”

- Chuck Hulon

Chapter Five ✦ 37


Above: Bloodworths Grocery, 1958.

Right: A patriotic water tower.

Robins. The 1950s style depot acts as Warner

Robin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and

plans for a new visitors’ center at Interstate I-75

and Russell Parkway are underway.

The 21st Century Partnership is “a 501c3

dedicated to the long-term vitality and

sustainability of Robins Air Force Base [that

works] closely with RAFB officials, regional,

state and national chambers, development

authorities, and community partners to foster

regional development” (21st Century

Partnership). Composed of civic and business

leaders, retired military members and other

concerned citizens, the group works “to

enhance the military value of Robins Air Force

Base and economic development in Middle

Georgia” (21st Century Partnership). The

website for 21st Century Partnership shows a

2017 Economic Impact for Robins Air Force

base at 22,257 personnel employed, $177

million awarded in “Contracts to Houston

County Firms,” and an increase of $11 million

in total economic impact over 2016.

From the 21st Century Partnership:

During the 1993 Base Realignment and

Closure (BRAC) process, Robins Air Force Base

38 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


FROM THE PEOPLE

FROM THE PEOPLE

“I remember when they built Carrol’s.

Watson Boulevard was two lanes, then they

added two more to make it four.”

- Grady Stokes

“When we went to Houston Mall, we got

rolls of pennies to throw into the fountain.

We were dirt poor, but it was a fun activity!”

- Jennifer Lauren English

Left: The City Council, 1949.

Below: Commercial Circle.

Chapter Five ✦ 39


Houston Mall.

FROM THE PEOPLE

“I walked Houston Mall with my mother-in-law the morning I went into labor, then went

back to school to teach afternoon classes. I didn’t feel well. The school nurse realized what was

happening and sent me straight to the doctor.”

- April Moyer Lunceford

“I remember going to Belk’s to get new shoes with my mom. I can still vividly see the green carpet

of Houston Mall in my mind.”

- Sarah Curington Eno

“I loved going to the mall bookstore!”

- Karen Fowler

“My family and I had great times shopping at Houston Mall. I remember buying penny loafers,

Bee Bops, and a store with a soda fountain.”

- Debra Parkman Elliott

“My favorite place in Houston Mall was Orange Julius.”

- Cindy McCullough Gentry

40 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Above: A Warner Robins Chamber of

Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Left: Carrols was a Warner Robins

mainstay for many years.

TOP EMPLOYERS IN WARNER ROBINS

Robins Air Force Base 24,500

Houston County Board of Education 2,355

Houston Healthcare 2,267

From Guide to the Robins Region Georgia, p. 79

Chapter Five ✦ 41


Above: The old railroad station is now

the E. L. Greenway Welcome Center.

Right: The Homer J. Walker, Jr.,

Civic Center.

was added to the BRAC list for evaluation…a

shock to the entire Middle Georgia region, as well

as to the entire State of Georgia. At the insistence

of Senator Sam Nunn, the 21st Century

Partnership was hurriedly formed to defend

Robins and thus the Middle Georgia region during

the official BRAC process. That massive

organizational effort was spearheaded by

community leaders such as George Israel, Bob

Hatcher, Paul Nagle, Ralph Nix, Eddie Wiggins,

Sherrill Stafford, Jack Steed, and many others…

with the sage counsel of Senator Sam Nunn. The

military value of the base, and community was

once again evaluated in BRAC 2005. As in BRAC

1995, not only did Robins survive, but actually

gained mission during BRAC 2005.Fortunately,

the 21st Century Partnership continued to defend

and evoke positive actions to ensure the continued

viability of the base. But equally important, the

organizational structure, mission, and approach

have matured tremendously, vaulting the

partnership to the elite class of defense community

42 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


support organizations in the Nation and certainly

in the State of Georgia. This transformation began

with a dramatic shift of philosophy. That is the

best way to defend Robins is from an offensive

standpoint vs. a defensive standpoint. The

objective was straightforward—make Robins and

Middle Georgia so attractive to decision makers for

assignment of military missions that the base

would expand and become so vital to the Nation’s

defense posture, it would always be in a position

to accept and execute new missions vs. just

fighting to keep jobs in Middle Georgia. This

approach caused focus and solutions to issues

like encroachment; education; affordable/suitable

housing; child care; health care; air quality;

workforce development; transportation access;

quality of life for assigned personnel; cost of living;

cost of operating an installation in Middle Georgia;

capacity to grow; base-community partnerships;

public private partnerships’ collaboration with

sister Air Force industrial operations; helping

Robins execute their strategic plans; etc. The

transformation in philosophy also led to

organizational structure changes. While the

original board structure has virtually remained in

place, retired senior military officers were added as

advisors; Executive Directors were added; a

formal office front was established; a 501c3

was created; then we transitioned to a CEO/COC

construct…. Under the current staffing the focus

will be developing a strategy and action plans that

build on National, State and local layers, focusing

on ensuring not only the continuing viability

of Robins AFB in the future but working to

bring more missions and jobs to the Middle

Georgia area.

Above: Warner Robins City Hall.

Below: A 747 carrying a space

shuttle. Robins AFB’s runways can

accommodate the largest aircraft in

use today.

Chapter Five ✦ 43


CHAPTER SIX

S CHOOLS

Warner Robins’ growth led to a merger of communities that the early founders did not expect.

At one point, the city limits of Warner Robins, Byron, and Fort Valley converged. This involves

major interaction between Houston and Peach counties. Perry and Warner Robins addresses may be

across a highway from each other. Bonaire reaches to Warner Robins, Robins Air Force Base, and

Kathleen. Kathleen almost reaches Perry and Haneysville. Haneysville and Grovania share common

ground. Warner Robins surrounds Centerville. Planes, Trains & Heroes lists all schools that fall under

the Houston County Board of Education. It includes colleges with a physical campus in Warner

Robins, and the private academies that serve Houston County students. This list is not complete, as

different educational options are continually growing. However, the list is representative of options

available in 2018.

The Houston County Board of Education serves the following schools:

• Bonaire Elementary School

• Bonaire Middle School

• C.B. Watson Primary School

• Centerville Elementary School

• David Perdue Elementary School

• David Perdue Primary School

• Eagle Springs Elementary School

• Feagin Mill Middle School

• Hilltop Elementary School

• Houston County Career Academy

• Houston County Crossroad Center

• Houston County High School

• Huntington Middle School

• Kings Chapel Elementary School

• Lake Joy Elementary School

• Lake Joy Primary School

• Langston Road Elementary School

• Lindsey Elementary School

• Matt Arthur Elementary School

• Miller Elementary School

• Morningside Elementary School

• Mossy Creek Middle School

• Northside Elementary School

• Northside High School

• Northside Middle School

• Parkwood Elementary School

• Pearl Stephens Elementary School

• Perry High School

• Perry Middle School

• Quail Run Elementary School

• Russell Elementary School

• Shirley Hill Elementary School

• Thomson Elementary School

• Tucker Elementary School

• Veterans High School

Warner Robins High School

Warner Robins Middle School

• Westside Elementary School.

HOUSTON COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL BEARS

Houston County High School’s students have won numerous state and national championships.

• Athletics: Baseball, state championship, Class 5A, 2012-2013; Softball, state championship, 1995;

Wesley Steiner, state champion in discus, Class 6A, 2017-2018; and Kyah Plummer, state

champion in triple jump, Class 6A, 2017-2018

• Literary: State champions, 1993 (tie)

• Future Farmers of America: State championships, dairy judging, 2005-2006 through 2014-2015,

2016-2017 and 2017-2018

• SkillsUSA: Thomas Ireson, state championship, 2018

• Technology and science: Christopher Saetia, state top award in computer-aided design in architecture:

2018; Harshvardhan Singh, Science and Engineering State Award winner, 2018

44 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


• Communication: Dhruvesh Patel, state

champion, Gateway Optimist International

Club for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

communication content, 2018

• Art: Alisha Raza, All-State Art Symposium

state finalist, 2018

Future Business Leaders of America: Nivedha

Soundappan and Sasha Lee, national first

place, emerging business issues, 2016

• Family, Career and Community Leaders of

America: Mary DeTota and Dalton Vasquez,

state champions, first in chapter service

project display, 2018; Abigail McDowell,

Shewta Patel, and Jaidan Beal, state

champions, first in chapter review

display, 2018; Cori Calvert and Cassidy

Hindman, National Gold Award, chapter

in review display, 2017; Illiana Esquivel

and Laurel Gaskin, National Gold Award,

chapter in review display, 2017; Lawson

Smith and Maryah Booker, National Gold

Award, chapter service project display: 2017;

Cori Calvert, Kelli Gunerman, and

Brayden Santos, National Gold Award,

chapter in review display, 2016; Elizabeth

Deal and Nikita Shetty, National Gold

Award, environmental ambassador, 2016;

Shivani Patel and Isabella Trauth, National

Gold Award, chapter in review portfolio,

2016; Bobbie Melden and Logan Vasquez,

National Gold Award, national programs in

action, 2016

Notable Houston High School alumni include

Brandon King, former cornerback, National

Football League (NFL); Kyle Moore, former

defensive end, NFL and Canadian Football

League (CFL); Jake Fromm, Gatorade Player of

the Year for football (2015) and quarterback at

the University of Georgia (2017-present); D. L.

Hall, pitcher, Baltimore Orioles (2017-present);

Jessica Burroughs, drafted as the first overall

pick in the 2017 NPF Draft, becoming the first

player from the ACC to be drafted at number one

for softball; and Steven Moore, Gatorade Player

of the Year for soccer (2015).

NORTHSIDE HIGH

SCHOOL EAGLES

Northside High School’s students have won

numerous state and national championships.

• Athletics: Girls basketball, state champions,

Class AA, 1966-1967 and 1967-1968; Football,

state champions, 2006, 2007, and 2014; Girls

track, state champions, 2014; Cassondra Hall,

state champion, 400 meters, 2014; Ta’kera

James, Cassondra Hall, Toleah Martin, Tia

Williams, and Toneah Martin, state champions,

1,600-meter relay, 2014; Becky Dyson, state

champion, discus, 1995; Kevondre Hunt, state

champion, 300-meter hurdles, 2013; Braxton

Golden, state champion, shot put, 2018; and

DaShawn Farber, state champion, wrestling,

2017 (132 lbs.) and 2018 (138 lbs.)

• Literary: State champions, 1968, 1969, 1976,

1978, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992,

1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003,

2004, 2007, 2008, and 2013

• One Act Play: State champions, 2006,

2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,

and 2016

Northside High’s notable alumni include Kal

Daniels, former left fielder, Major League

Baseball; Corey Harris, former safety, NFL; Abry

Jones, defensive tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars

(2013-present); Steven Nelson, cornerback,

Kansas City Chiefs (2015-present); Chansi

Stuckey, former wide receiver, NFL; Robert

Davis, wide receiver, Washington Redskins

(2017-present); and David Perdue, U.S. senator

PERRY HIGH

SCHOOL PANTHERS

Perry High School’s students have won

numerous state and national championships.

• Athletics: Boys’ basketball, state champions,

1947, 1949, 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1963,

1964, and 1966

• Literary: State champions, 1961 (B), 1962

(B), and 1966 (A)

• One Act Play: State champions, AAAA, 2009,

2013, and 2015

• FFA: State champions, meat evaluation:

2007-2008; state champions, senior meat

evaluation, 2010-2011 and 2014-2015; state

champions, junior meat evaluation, 2014-

2015; state champions, senior nursery

landscaping, 2010-2011 and 2014-2015;

state champions, grand champion heifer and

steer, 2014-2015; national champions,

nursery landscaping, 2007-2008 and

Chapter Six ✦ 45


2014-2015; and national champions,

floriculture, 2010-2011

Notable Perry High School alumni include

Casey Hayward, cornerback with the Los Angeles

Charges (2016-present); Dontarrious Thomas,

former linebacker, NFL and United Football

League (UFL); Kiwaukee Thomas, former

cornerback, NFL and CFL; Al Thornton, former

forward, NBA, who currently plays professionally

in Japan; Kanorris Davis, former safety and

linebacker, NFL; David Coffey, former outfielder,

MLB; Deborah Roberts, television journalist;

Larry Walker, Jr., Georgia state representative;

and Sam Nunn, United States senator.

VETERANS HIGH

SCHOOL WARHAWKS

Veterans High School’s state and national

championships include:

• Athletics: Cheerleading, state champions,

AAAA, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014; Malik

Broughton, state champion, track & field,

AAAA, 2013; and Francis Morrisey, state

champion, wrestling, AAAA, 2018.

• Literary: Margaret Higginbotham, state

champion, essay, 2014-2015

• FFA: State champions, meats team: 2014-

2015, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018; state

FROM THE PEOPLE

“Of the hundreds of students I’ve been blessed to help through their middle school, high

school, or college classes, a surprising number came from foreign countries. One middle school

student’s Nigerian mother met his U.S. Air Force father and they moved here. For Warner Robins

and Middle Georgia, this is common. A friend from Spain met her husband, from New York,

while he was stationed abroad. They now live in Warner Robins and she completed the process

to become a United States citizen. What I did not expect were numbers of international students

without military connections.

“A Cuban family came to the United States by boat. The student in a Warner Robins classroom

was too young to remember much of the journey; but remembers the constant crashing of waves,

the tension of adults seeking freedom in a new land, and the joy of stepping on solid ground

once more. A Nicaraguan woman told me that as an infant and child, her father gave her gifts of

18-carat gold jewelry, for each birthday or event, and trained her to wear all the pieces all the

time. When a different regime took the country, her family fled to the United States with ‘only

the clothes on their backs’ and the jewelry they wore. This gold jewelry helped them establish

new lives. A Nigerian teacher needed additional United States college credits to teach French in

Houston County, a standard language in her home county. She had family in Warner Robins who

could sponsor her into the United States. A student from Venezuela helped us in the college

offices on a work/study program while she earned a degree. Her primary language was

Portuguese. Our college offers a Student Leadership Award for which a student must complete

100 hours of community service during his or her a two-year degree program. The Vietnamese

student completed 500 hours. A U.S. Marine, in my class, explained how he came from

Columbia for a new life. My co-worker grew up in Korea and a student from India taught me

how many languages are spoken there. He spoke three of them. A Warner Robins business family

came from Lebanon. They now sponsor one of our college scholarships.

“After the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, a high school’s

assistant principal told me that his job was to convince parents of Middle Eastern students that

their children were safe to return to school. Frightened parents kept their children at home, but

most returned to classes within a few days. Others chose the homeschool option. Of course, at

the college level, we are seeing more and more homeschooled students from all ethnic groups as

parents choose the option to personally ‘Train up a child in the way he should go.’

“So, Warner Robins is diverse, and that diversity enriches the community.”

- Dianne Dent Wilcox

46 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


FROM THE PEOPLE

“Riding the Nancy Hanks train from Macon to Atlanta in 1962 was quite an

exciting experience. The train started in Savannah, passing through Warner Robins

on its way to board in Macon. We each received a box lunch, and like ‘worldly

women,’ we rode to Atlanta and spent the day shopping at Rich’s Department Store.

At that time Rich’s was located near the train station in downtown Atlanta. These

were such fond memories that still exist: ‘New doesn’t always mean better.’

“Another memory includes the train station at Elberta Road off Highway 247.

Hidden underneath a horrible looking building at this railroad crossing was the

original ornate train station from the past. This was converted into and expanded

as a salvage yard surrounded by military cast off equipment. Just a few years ago I

noticed that the building was being demolished, and you could see the beautiful woodwork being exposed. I’m sure I was not the only

person to notice this. So, I called into the local newspaper to make them aware of a hidden treasure during the massive cleanup. The

station has now been relocated to the Watson Boulevard entrance off Highway 247 along with other antique memories located in front

of our beautiful law enforcement center. My thoughts are personal, but the thoughts and memories of those who have now gone before

us are the heroes of Warner Robins. Their thoughts turned a small bump in the road into a thriving city it is today. Whether it was the

wonderful nuns and priests of Sacred Heart, our business and civic leaders, and neighbors of yesterday, we are products of their visions

and they are our heroes. I don’t know what ‘getting there’ means, but the journey has been grand!”

- Diane Wagner 2018

“My neighbor said they would take the Nancy Hanks to the capitol for a grade school field trip. He was born in 1956. By the

time I went to grade school, our field trip was to the Rama Theater”

- Karen Sisk 2018

“There were two engines called the Nancy Hanks. The memories here refer to Nancy Hanks II pictured on the Atlanta billboard

above. Riding the Nancy Hanks was a field trip tradition to the point that she was honored in the Warner Robins Christmas Parade.

My personal memory of the train was an ABC Kindergarten trip (Macon) to Grant’s Zoo to see the famous gorilla Willie B and to

Riches for ice cream cones decorated like circus clowns. Later, when I was in sixth grade, Mama took my brother and me out of

school to ride the Nancy Hanks II to Atlanta during her last week of operation. Then, passenger travel by train ended for Middle

Georgia.”

- Dianne Dent Wilcox 2018

Above: A billboard featuring the

Nancy Hanks II train.

Left: A float honoring the Nancy

Hanks in the Warner Robins

Christmas Parade.

Chapter Six ✦ 47


FROM THE PEOPLE

“My journey to Warner Robins began by being born in New York City, which continued by following my grandparents south

to Gainesville, Georgia five years later then to Atlanta for two years. My dad heard of a military base below Macon was hiring

veterans and knew, that for his family’s sake and livelihood, Warner Robins was the place to be. As a WWII veteran, his experience

and knowledge in electronics made him a good fit for the job. He knew he should leave the big city for this unknown land. Daddy

was hired and lived in a dormitory temporarily, along with other men coming to an area which lacked housing. The dorms were

located on North Davis Drive in 1954. Eventually these were used for Scout Troops, college classes, etc. until demolished. Dad

lived there through the year returning to Atlanta on Friday evening and back on Sunday evening. My mom and the three children

stayed in Atlanta until the school year ended to see if this new land of opportunity was all my dad had hoped it would be.

“To my mom and other women arriving in Warner Robins, the area did not offer much of anything to write home about. They were

truly pioneers and true heroes of their time. I was ten and the original Sacred Heart Church was already built.My first memory of

Warner Robins and Sacred Heart Church is still embedded in my mind. I was wearing a nylon dress to church on a blazing hot summer

day with no air conditioning. My puff sleeves on my dress became full of gnats. It was a horrible experience. My mom took me out of

church and removed my dress, never to be worn again anywhere in Warner Robins. I survived, but with lasting unpleasant memories.

“My first year of school here was grade five at Lindsey. It was a welcoming school with a wonderful principal, David Perdue,

who went on to being the Houston School Superintendent. My fifth-grade teacher was Max Croft who went on to Northside High

School to be its principal. By my sixth grade, Sacred Heart School opened its doors in an old Army wooden barracks. With the

beginning of this zealous endeavor, the nuns from Ireland were sent across the ocean to teach the Catholic students here. They were

the Presentation Sisters and were truly embarking into the unknown. These Sisters were true trailblazers. They had arrived wearing

wool, full-length habits, covering head-to-toe to live in a house with no air conditioning. These were heroes to all who came to

know and love them. Their tasks were daunting as American children were more rambunctious than their Irish counterparts.

“Today, here at Sacred Heart School, we no longer have nuns. They definitely shaped our minds and hearts with love of God

and our fellow man to become stellar members of society. The school went through to the eighth grade, and continues to do so,

kindergarten included. Sacred Heart Church and School has been a part of Warner Robins from basically the beginning of the

town’s conception, and still continues to grow with a new church and school. It has a large active parish with many programs and

Christian Service Center in the heart of the original downtown area.”

- Diane Wagner 2018

champions, ag sales, 2011-2012 and

2017; state grand champions, barrow, 2014-

2015; and state champions, floriculture,

2010-2011

PRIVATE

SCHOOLS

Private schools serving Warner Robins

include Warner Robins Christian Academy,

Sacred Heart Catholic School, Central

Fellowship Christian Academy, Christian

Fellowship Academy, The Westside School, and

Mt.DeSales Academy.

COLLEGES

Colleges with campuses in Warner Robins

include Central Georgia Technical College,

Georgia Military College, and Middle Georgia State

University. Other colleges offer extension or online

programs. Mercer University and Fort Valley State

are also choices for students in the area.

FROM THE PEOPLE

“I moved to the United States five years ago from Cuba, and Warner Robins has been my home since then. My sponsor family

lived in Miami a few years. They wanted to get away from the city and find a peaceful place to live. I believe Warner Robins was

the best choice they could have made because it has filled me with joy and peace.”

- Haydee Acosta

48 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Watson Boulevard, 1976.

Chapter Six ✦ 49


CHAPTER SEVEN

Q UALITY OF L IFE

The headquarters of the Warner

Robins Police Department.

In 2017, “Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton [became] the longest serving active sheriff in the

state of Georgia” (Ford). The Houston County Government’s webpage article “Meet the Sheriff” says,

“Cullen Talton was elected Sheriff in 1972 after serving the citizens as a county commissioner. As the

chief law enforcement officer of the county, Sheriff Talton manages a full-service agency with over

300 personnel providing patrol, traffic, investigative functions, court services, and detention

facilities. In addition, the Sheriff's Office is responsible for the E-911 center which receives calls and

dispatches for all law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and medical services in the county.”

He told reporter Latasha Ford, “It makes me feel good to know I have the support of the citizens

of Houston County for [so many] years…. It’s been an honor for me to serve as sheriff of

Houston County.”

“The Sheriff Office's goal is to protect life and property, enforce the laws of the State of Georgia,

apprehend violators of the law, repress crime, preserve social tranquility and safety, prevent civil

disorder, provide service to the courts and provide humane safekeeping to all persons confined to the

detention facility” (“Meet the Sheriff”).

Retired Chief of Police Dan Hart served the City of Warner Robins for thirty of his thirty-one years

in law enforcement. He believes that the people of the community enhance the quality of life here.

In 1973, retired Chief Hart says the Warner Robins Police Department “consisted mainly of a patrol

division, a few detectives, and a public relations officer.” Now, Hart says, “it has developed into a full

service professional law enforcement agency providing services in patrol, traffic, criminal

50 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


investigations, drugs and intelligence, crime

scene investigation, evidence processing, special

response teams, school resource, police K-9,

and [maintains] an excellent on-going training

program.” In 2018, Hart continues to serve the

community as volunteer coordinator for the

Museum of Aviation.

Police Chief Bret Evans works to see that

Warner Robins’ “policing philosophy balances

traditional and innovative…methods,” and

supports the city’s view ‘that community

problems are most successfully addressed and

alleviated by working in partnership with the

community” (“Warner Robins Police

Department”). He signs his emails with a G.K.

Chesterton quote: “Fairy tales do not tell

children the dragons exist. Children already

know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children

the dragons can be killed” which says that

problems arise, but problems can be solved. Of

his life in Middle Georgia, Evans says, “My

family and I moved to Warner Robins in 1980

when the Air Force transferred us here. I

attended Northside and then went to Georgia

College in Milledgeville. I started with the

Warner Robins Police Department in 1987, and

I married my high school sweetheart, Tammy, in

March of 1987. Many of the same mentors that

I had in high school are still mentors today, not

just for me, but for many leaders in Houston

County. It’s the people who make Houston

County and Warner Robins a great place to live.

When we first moved here, Warner Robins had

a single zip code and only two phone number

exchanges, 922 and 923. As a matter of fact, you

could dial either two or three (the last digit of

the exchange number zero followed by the final

four digits when making a call. I remember

Warner Robins Police Department much smaller

but very progressive for an agency its size. I

enjoyed working in almost every aspect of the

agency, as well as growing through the

promotional process, before being appointed

chief in 2003. December of 2017 marked

fourteen years that I have been honored to serve

as the chief of a wonderful, professional law

enforcement agency.”

FROM THE PEOPLE

If you live in Middle Georgia and play tennis, Kerry Bacon may have

taught you the love of the game. He has been teaching for over forty-one

years and has taught more than 20,000 students. More than 100 of them

have played college tennis. Mr. Bacon graduated from the University of

Georgia. After he graduated, he taught tennis to others at his own Kerry

Bacon Tennis Camp. He also was the men’s and women’s head coach at

Mercer University in the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 1975, he was asked to teach

summer tennis camps at Houston County Recreation Department. There

were only four big courts at that time. Over the years, Warner Robins has

added courts at Ted Wright Parks, Shirley Hills, Westside and Miller

Elementary Schools. The love of tennis continues the need to add more

courts in Warner Robins. His tennis camp students love and respect him. He

is patient and makes the game fun. Carys Fonner has attended his summer

camps since she was eight. She is now in eighth grade and on the Tattnall

Academy Junior Varsity tennis team. Kerry Bacon taught her mother

Elizabeth Fussell Fonner when she played in Warner Robins. Carys says

when she wears a Kerry Bacon tennis camp T-shirt that people of all ages

stop her and tell her he also taught them tennis lessons. Warner Robins is

blessed to have this tennis legend.

- Patricia Fussell

Kerry Bacon (right) and Carys Fonner.

FROM THE PEOPLE

“It’s good to see past students doing so

much for the city. I think I taught half the

people on city council, the mayor, half the

people on the police force, and even the

chief of police”

- Linda Faraone

Chapter Seven ✦ 51


CHAPTER EIGHT

G ROWTH

Norfolk Southern trains are a

common sight in Warner Robins.

Warner Robins continues to grow and build despite economic highs and lows. The newest growth

is west to Byron and south to Perry. A local police officer says, “The population doubles each day as

commuters come into the city.” The city website says, “In 1943, by an act of the Georgia Assembly,

the new community of Warner Robins was officially chartered and incorporated. Both the base and

the community have grown hand-in-hand since that time (“Warner Robins, Georgia”). Built to

support the U.S. military efforts in World War II, “The Korean conflict resulted in the base being

suddenly reactivated and people began pouring in again. The growth and construction that followed

made Warner Robins a boomtown. The sound of the air hammer and sight of new buildings and

homes hasn’t ceased since…. Today, Robins Air Force Base is firmly established as the largest Air

Force base in the South, as well as Georgia’s largest single industry” (“Warner Robins, Georgia”).

Jacob Reynolds, in a 2017 pre-mayoral race piece for WMAZ-TV said, “Since 2000, Warner Robins

has grown by more than 13 square miles, and the population has increased by roughly 25,000”

(“Candidate Weigh in on Warner Robins’ Growth and Annexation).

In 2017, Forbes Magazine named Warner Robins one of “The Best Small Places for Business and

Careers.” The magazine provide the following statistics.

• Metro population: 190,200

• Major industries: Defense, healthcare

• Gross metro product: $8.9 billion

• Job growth (2016): 2.7%

• Cost of living: 8% below the national average

52 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


HOUSTON COUNTY BY THE NUMBERS

• County population: 150,033

Warner Robins population: 73,490

• Perry population: 15,457

• Centerville population: 7,575

• Percentage of population married: 48.3%

• Houston County land area: 375.54 square miles

• Median home value: $132,400

• Average commute time: 21.1 minutes

• Median age: 31

Source: Guide to the Robins Region Georgia p. 5

• High school atttainment: 87.6%

• College attainment: 26.8%

• Graduate degrees: 12.2%

Forbes’ profile for Warner Robins says,

Warner Robins is home to the Museum of

Aviation honoring the history of military

aviation. It is located next to the air force base.

The museum contains exhibits on military

memorabilia, airplanes and ground vehicles, the

Tuskegee Airmen and Operation Desert Storm.

It is the second-largest aviation museum in the

country. When the U.S. Air Force was founded

in 1947, the base was named Robins Air Force

Base; the logistics headquarters was originally

named the Warner Robins Air Materiel Area and

today is called the Warner Robins Air Logistics

Center. The base is the state’s largest employer

in one location; it has more than 25,000

personnel, mostly civil servants” (“The Best

Small Places for Business and Careers”).

Growth in industry also continues. Once,

just a whistle stop on a country railroad, today’s

trains are part of the Norfolk Southern

Corporation formed as smaller railroads

merged. Today, according to www.nscorp.com,

“Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the

nation's premier transportation companies. Its

Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates

19,500 route miles” and according to one of

Warner Robins Police Department employees,

“A train comes by the new police station

about every five minutes.” It still passes between

the Warner Robins Depot and Robins Air

Force Base.

A Norfolk Southern caboose.

Chapter Eight ✦ 53


CHAPTER NINE

T HE

F UTURE

A F16A Fighting Falcon on display at

the Museum of Aviation.

Newcomers to Warner Robins often ask one question: “What does EDIMIGAFAD mean?” They see

this on painted on buildings, posted on billboards, highlighting a patriotic display on a new water

tower, and sculpted into shrubbery.

Robins Air Force Base “is one of the major economic forces in our community. The local saying

‘Every Day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day’ (EDIMIGIAFAD) is one that shows

our great pride in being home to the largest air force base in the South as well as Georgia’s largest

industrial complex” (Guide to the Robins Region Georgia 3).

Currently, the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base is considered one of the top museums

in its category. Discussions about an aviation museum began earlier, but “civic leaders, assisted by

base officials, incorporated the Southeastern Museum of Aviation Foundation under the laws of the

State of Georgia on 11 February 1981” (Head and Truluck). Stated objectives were:

•. To preserve the heritage and tradition of military and civilian aviation in the Southeastern United States.

•. To foster the study of aerospace history in the Southeastern United States.

•. To stimulate espirt de corps by telling the military and civilian aviation story through displays of

historical significance.

•. To support the Air Force recruiting program and enlistment by informing the public and youth

of the Southeastern United States through educational exhibits which present the history of the

Air Force.

•. To foster the economic growth of Middle Georgia, the State of Georgia and the Southeastern

United States. (qtd. in Head and Truluck)

Then, on “18 December 1981, museum planners submitted a detailed ten-year museum

development plan to WR-ALC and AFCL Public Affairs officials” to be located “on forty-three acres

on Robins AFB adjacent to Georgia Highway 247 and south of Gate 14” (Head and Truluck). The

museum opened three years later and gained immediate public attention. By 1989, it was ranked in

Georgia’s top historic sites. Then,

54 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


inductees were: General Robert L. Scott;

Benjamin T. Epps Sr. of Athens, recipient of the

first Georgia Aviation Pioneer Award; Corporal

Eugene Jacques Bullard of Columbus, the first

black military aviator in World War I; Lieutenant

Guy. O. Stone, the World War I pilot whose

collection began the Museum; Hazel Jane Raines

of Waynesboro, the first woman in Georgia to

receive a commercial pilot’s license; retired Air

Force Major General and World War I air ace

and World War II Air Commander of the VIII

Fighter Command, Frank O’Driscoll “Monk”

Hunter of Savannah; and retire Navy

Commander Hamilton McWhorter III, the first

naval carrier ace in World War II, who later

became a double ace.” (Head and Truluck)

“…on 19 April 1989, in a brief ceremony at

the State Capitol in Atlanta, Governor Joe Frank

Harris signed into law House Bill 110, which

created the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame and

made the museum its home. The hall was

created to honor aviation leaders who made

outstanding and lasting contributions to aviation

history in Georgia or as Georgians. A banquet

honoring the first seven inductees was held at

the RAFB Officers’ Club on 26 August 1989. The

An exhibit which opened May 3, 1997 gained

further national attention: American’s Black

Eagles—Tuskegee Pioneers and Beyond. Lt.

Cols. Charles “A-Train” Dryden and Herbert

“Gene” Carter participated in a panel discussion

and question and answer session in the Century

of Flight Hangar. Today, the Museum of Aviation

highlights historic aircraft outside, and then

inside specialty hangers. It includes the Georgia

Aviation Hall of Fame and the Robert L. Scott

Vistascope Theater in addition to exhibits of

historic events and stories of the people who

lived them. The Museum of Aviation at Robins

An early aircraft on display at The

Museum of Aviation.

Chapter Nine ✦ 55


Above: A Fairchild Republic A-10

Thunderbolt II.

Below: A Rockwell B-1B Lancer.

Air Force Base “welcomes thousands of visitors

annually, making it the third most-visited

museum in the Department of Defense, and one

of only seven aviation museums in the U.S. to be

accredited by the American Association of

Museums” (Guide to the Robins Region Georgia

21). It features “more than 70 aircraft, missiles,

and cockpits dating from a replica of an early

1896 glider to modern era aircraft such as the B-

1B bomber, the SR-71 Blackbird, the U-2 Dragon

Lady, and the F-15 Eagle” (Guide to the Robins

Region Georgia 23). The Museum of Aviation at

Robins Air Force Base also displays “a Flying

Tigers P-40 Warhawk, a B-25 Mitchell bomber,

and a P-51 Mustang” along with an “EC-135

once used by General Norman Schwarzkopf in

Operation Desert Storm….a Vietnam War-era F-

4D Phantom MiG killer, an A-10 Thunderbolt,

an F-105D Thunderchief, a C-130E cargo

aircraft, and an MH-53 special operation

helicopter that saw sustained combat operations

in the Middle East” (Guide to the Robins Region

Georgia 24). Its primary function involves

educational programs with community groups,

regional primary and secondary schools,

technical schools, colleges, teacher training,

living history, and aerospace workshops.

Incorporated January 1, 1943, the City of

Warner Robins now claims a population of

66,588 in a total area of 22.9 square miles

(Georgia.gov). Population doubles during the

Robins Air Force Base workday and during peak

shopping times, as the city draws employees

and customers from counties in middle and

south Georgia. Often called “The City with the

Most Red Lights,” those traffic lights are now on

56 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Above: A Sikorsky MH-53 Pave Low.

Left: A General Dynamics

F-111E Aardvark.

timers to manage the flow of daily traffic. A new

mass transit van service began in 2017, and further

mass transit options are in discussion.

Watson Boulevard, once a two-lane dirt road, as

of the early twenty-first century, has seven lanes

and extends from the base to Interstate 75.

Russell Boulevard also extends from Robins Air

Force Base to Interstate 75.

Chapter Nine ✦ 57


WARNER ROBINS HEROES

BENJAMIN

HAWKINS

Carl Vinson.

In 1794, George Washington appointed

Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1816) Indian Agent

for “tribes south of the Ohio River.” Hawkins

chose a fort site overlooking what is now the

Ocmulgee National Monument, a sacred place

for the Muskogee-Creek nation in 1805, and

fort construction occurred in 1806. The fort

served as area defense, but primarily was a place

of commerce and payment of annuities to

natives per treaty agreements. During the War of

1812, activities increased at Fort Hawkins.

Andrew Jackson picked up 1,400 militia men

here for one of his campaigns. Colonel Hawkins

recruited 1,000 Muskogee Creeks to fight and

for the United States. He moved into and out of

Native villages during the war, enlisting White

Sticks to support the United States and helping

maintain peace with Red Sticks who supported

Great Britain. As Fort Hawkins’ primary functions

moved back to trade, only two to three

people remained posted there. It was decommissioned

in 1828. The U.S. boundary moved

to the Flint River by 1820, so a village of United

States settlers established a community near the

old fort and then founded Macon along the

Ocmulgee. After establishing Fort Hawkins,

Benjamin Hawkins moved to the Flint River to

conduct treaty negotiations and education. He

lived the remainder of his life at the agency,

now in Crawford County. Hawkins believed that

the survival of natives depended upon their

ability to assimilate into U.S. society. He oversaw

instruction in farming, carpentry, and

weaving. He balanced the needs of natives and

settlers. Pressure for land began to build

in Georgia, but it was only after his death, in

1816, that the United States removed natives to

the West.

CARL

VINSON

Carl Vinson, “the father of the two-ocean

navy,” led the national effort to place an Air

Force base in Middle Georgia. A prompter of

strong national defense, Vinson was born in

Milledgeville in 1883, attended Georgia Military

College, and graduated from Mercer University

Law School in 1902. He practiced law, and then

entered state and later national politics. Robins

Air Field was planned before the United States

entered World War II, largely because “twenty

months before the Japanese bombed Pearl

Harbor…Vinson steered two bills through

Congress. The first called for expanding naval

aviation to 10,000 planes, training 16,000 pilots,

and establishing 20 air bases; the second speeded

naval construction and eased labor restriction

in the shipbuilding industry…. In 1964 U.S.

President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Vinson

the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest

award that a president may bestow upon a

civilian. U.S. President Richard Nixon honored

Vinson in 1973 by naming the nation’s third

nuclear-powered carrier for him” (Cook). Vinson

served in the United States House of

Representatives for over fifty years under presidents

Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, F.D.

Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and

Johnson. He lived to be ninety-seven. Carl

Vinson’s great-nephew, Sam Nunn, continued

the family’s legacy in Congress. Today, The

University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of

Government trains new leaders for the nation.

58 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


OPAL DENT LASSITER SMITH

Opal Dent Lassiter Smith was a Rosie’s Riveter

who came to Middle Georgia for a defense job.

She loaded detonator caps at the Naval

Ordnance Plant south of Macon with other

young women who lived in supervised dormitories

at Wesleyan College’s Music Conservatory.

She remembers the dorm mother encouraging

the women to attend dances at the USO and to

“be nice to the young soldiers because they are

just as homesick and frightened about the war as

you are.” On July 4, 1942, Opal married C. G.

Smith at Camp Wheeler. As he went off to World

War II, she returned to her work loading munitions.

At closing each day, she and others pushed

small rail cars on narrow gauge tracks into earthen

bunkers to prevent explosions. The building

in which these women worked had a detachable

roof. Opal says, “That was so the roof would go

straight up if there was an explosion during our

work day. The explosion would annihilate

everything in the building, but it wouldn’t

destroy the structures around it.” At Robins,

Rosie’s Riveters performed aircraft maintenance

and other tasks.

ADA JACKSON LEE

Ada Jackson Lee helped found the Warner

Robins Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

She was born on the Feagin property which

became part of Robins Air Force Base. She

became politically active early. She helped integrate

the Warner Robins. Latasha Ford wrote a

Houston Home Journal article about Mrs. Lee in

2017. In it, she quotes Ada Lee: “The freedom

you see here in Warner Robins, my family

helped bring what we have here.” Her wish for

future generations is that they show respect for

themselves and each other, grasp their educational

opportunities, and find value in the

church. One of her final quotes in the article

says, “We need to be our brother’s keepers as

we” once were (qtd. In Ford). Mrs. Ada Jackson

Lee worked for The City of Warner Robins, to

help people, most often from Jody Town, move

from substandard housing into better homes for

twelve years. Then she worked with the recreation

department. She was active in the National

Association for the Advancement of Colored

People (NAACP) and Southern Christian

Leadership Conference (SCLC). She is a Warner

Robins hero.

ROBERT

L. SCOTT

Robert L. Scott, World War II hero and

author, was born on April 12, 1908, in

Waynesboro, Georgia and died on February 27,

2006, in Warner Robins, Georgia. He wrote God

Is My Co-Pilot, Flying Tiger: Chennault of China,

and The Day I Owned the Sky. He helped found

The Museum of Aviation, which is now the second

largest of its kind. After Scott began his lifelong

dream of flying, he delivered air mail as

part of a United States Army Air Corp experiment

devised by President Franklin D.

Roosevelt, and later, General Claire Lee

Chennault “made Scott the commander of the

renowned Twenty-third Fighter Group. By

February 1943 Scott, having shot down at least

thirteen Japanese aircraft, was sent home to

make speeches and sell war bonds” (Head). Also

in 1943, “the Pentagon brought him back to the

United States for a nationwide tour exhorting

war-plant workers to greater efforts. Near the

end of that tour, Colonel Scott was asked by the

Scribner publishing house to relate his experiences

in a book. But he had only three days to

do so before he had to report to Luke Field in

Arizona as its new commander, so he simply

spoke his recollections—90,000 words—onto

wax cylinder recording devices” (Goldstein).

Goldstein’s New York Times article goes on to

say that Scott’s “recollections became God Is My

Co-Pilot, which provided the American home

Above: Opal Dent Lassiter Smith.

Below: The Robert L. Scott Exhibit

Hangar at the Museum of Aviation.

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 59


FROM THE PEOPLE

“I got to spend some time with Gen.

Scott while I volunteered at the Aviation

Museum in high school; he was as great a

patriot in person as he was in legend.”

- Jason Merideth

of Georgia Highway 247 named in his honor. In

2003, he was presented with a Governor’s

Award in the Humanities by the Georgia

Humanities Council” (Head).

Above: Robert L. Scott’s P-40

Warhawk.

Below: General Courtney

Hicks Rogers.

front a vivid account of aerial combat and

received outstanding reviews.” The New Georgia

Encyclopedia says, [it] is still regarded as a classic

wartime memoir. Warner Brothers bought the

rights to the book and made a move of the same

name starring Dennis Morgan as Scott. It premiered

[at the Grand Opera House] in Macon

on February 21, 1945” (Head).

Scott, recipient of multiple medals to

include a Commendation Medal, Silver Star,

Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal,

remained active even later in life. In 1984, Scott

"flew a F-16 Falcon jet fighter, and in 1995 an

F-15 Eagle. In 1997, on his eighty-ninth

birthday he flew in a B-18 Lancer supersonic

bomber. During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta,

Scott carried the Olympic torch along a section

COURTNEY HICKS HODGES

True heroes often work just below the public

radar. Born in Houston County, Georgia on

January 5, 1887, General Courtney Hicks Hodges

led the United States’ World War II First Army

onto the beaches of Normandy first, out of the

terror of Normandy first, into Paris first, into

Germany first, across the Rhine first, to meet the

Russians first, and to recapture “more ground in

Europe than any other unit” (Perry Area

Historical Museum). He attended both the

surrender of Nazi Germany and the Japanese

Empire. At West Point, Hodges was “found

deficient in math,” so he left and entered the

army as a private. He is the first to start as private

and rise to general. Courtney Hodges served with

honor from 1906 to 1949, earning a

Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star in

World War I, and three Army Distinguished

Service Medals in World War II. Perry, which was

Hodges' hometown, named General Courtney

Hodges Boulevard in honor of this Houston

County hero. He served with George Marshall,

George S. Patton, and Omar Bradley. General

Courtney H. Hodges died on January 16, 1966

and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

JAKE

FROMM

The University of Georgia’s 2017-2018

Number 11, Jake Fromm, played football at

Warner Robins High School, where he was

designated a USA Today High School All-

American in 2016. At Georgia, he was named

2017 AP SEC Co-Newcomer of the Year, 2017

60 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Coaches’ Freshman All-SEC, 2017 Coaches SEC

Freshman of the Year, and to the 2017 USA

Today Sports Freshman All-American Team, and

2017 ESPN Freshman All-American Team. But,

football is not Jake’s only sport. He played as

pitcher in the 2011 Little League World Series to

crowds exceeding 30,000. William Jacob

Fromm, born July 30, 1998, majors in finance at

the University of Georgia. The Telegraph calls

him, “a confident player, someone who thrives

on competition. Whether it is a game or practice,

[his] approach to football doesn’t change” (Butt).

BOBBIE DIANE EAKES

Bobbie Diane Eakes was born to a Warner

Robins Air Force family on July 25, 1961. Miss

Warner Robins 1981. Miss Georgia 1982, and a

top ten competitor in Miss America 1983, Eakes

has sung on American Bandstand and at The Grand

Ole Opry, but is best known for her roles on All

My Children (1970), The Bold and the Beautiful

(1987), and Sordid Lives (2000). She loves

fashion, fitness, singing, and charity work. In

2018, Bobbie Eakes and her husband, actor

David Steen, live in Palm Springs, California.

BETTY

CANTRELL

presence in Warner Robins is what makes our

community so great. I’ll never forget the feeling

I had when I came home to Warner Robins for

the first time after winning the title of Miss

America 2016. My homecoming was nothing

short of incredible. From the parade, to the

outpouring of love and support from the

community, to getting a street named after me,

this town has made me feel so loved and

supported. I am so excited to see where Betty

Cantrell Boulevard will be!”

Above: Betty Cantrell, Miss America

2016, touring with the USO.

Below: Karl McPherson oversaw the

hiring of more than 100,000 civilian

employees at Robins Field, including

skilled employees to handle the base’s

aircraft repair needs.

Betty Cantrell, born September 1, 1994, says

“My family came to Warner Robins in 1966

when my grandfather, Boyd T. Cantrell, took a

civil service job at Robins Air Force Base, shortly

after retiring from the military. He served in

World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. Growing up

in a small town has definitely helped keep my

feet on the ground throughout my success in

life. I love the feeling of coming from such a

tight-knit community. The support of its

citizens is just incredible. I love seeing people’s

faces when I them that I came from Warner

Robins. Most people have never heard of it.

Then, I get a chance to educate people on the

charm and warmth of a Middle Georgia

community. Being a part of what puts Warner

Robins on the map means the world to me. I feel

like Warner Robins is constantly growing and

improving itself; whether it’s new restaurants,

stores, or recreational centers. Robins Air Force

Base has always been a source of growth in the

community, and I think, having that military

KARL

MCPHERSON

“Mr. Karl McPherson (1912-1975) was born

in Cuthbert, Georgia on March 5, 1912 and

graduated from the public-school system of that

city. He afterward attended Abraham Baldwin

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 61


Above: Some of the many employees

hired by Karl McPherson.

Right: Nora Brantley.

Agricultural College, George Washington

University Law School, and Woodrow Wilson

School of Law. Mr. McPherson entered civil

service in 1935 as an employee of the Federal

Power Commission, first in Washington, D.C.,

and then in Atlanta. He later transferred to the

U.S. Civil Service Commission in Atlanta. He

came to Macon in 1941 to establish a Board of

Civil Service Examiners for the hiring of civilian

employees for Camp Wheeler. He could not

have known that he would spend the rest of his

career in Macon. In late 1941, Mr. McPherson

was assigned the task of hiring civilian

employees to staff an installation under

construction at Wellston, Georgia. To obtain the

thousands of skilled industrial workers required

for a depot situated in a primarily agricultural

areas was a monumental undertaking and the

biggest challenge of his career. McPherson,

himself, would later admit ‘I didn’t think we

could do it.’ Four hundred technicians were

hired at other air depots and thirteen hundred

workers, hired locally, were trained at existing

depots before the one at Wellston was

completed. Those seventeen hundred skilled

workers played a major role in training the

others. The Signal Corps also conducted

intensive training for its employees at Robins

Field and Bibb County established a school

where hundreds of engine and aircraft

mechanics were trained. As McPherson would

later recall, ‘We tore apart one old single engine

aircraft so many times that it hung loose when it

was assembled.’ Mr. McPherson, though he fired

the first Robins employees and would hire more

than 100,000 in his career, was not an employee

of Robins Field in the beginning. He left the

Civil Service Commission to become cvilian

personnel officer at Robins Field on February

16, 1942. He was Chief of Civilian Personnel

until his retirement on February 20, 1970, as

well as deputy director of personnel from the

time the position was created in 1945. Mr.

McPherson died on November 17, 1975. The

story is widely told that many of the early

employees of Robins Field thought, that since

McPherson hired them, he must be the big boss.

When asked where they worked, they would

say, ‘at Mr. McPherson’s airfield.’ And, in a sense,

it was” (undated from files at Warner Robins

Convention and Visitors Bureau).

NOLA

BRANTLEY

Miss Nola Brantley is one of Warner Robins,

Georgia’s heroes. Mary Ella Davidson Pollett

wrote an introduction to nominate Miss Brantley

for the Houston County Teacher Hall of Fame in

2007. It says, “There were [once] no schools in

Wellston, a wartime town, later named Warner

Robins, GA. [Later] Army barracks were set up

on the government dormitory area called ‘On the

Hill.’ High school students went to Bonaire High

62 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


School. The only high school in Houston

County, other than Perry High School.” Brantley

taught in this “army duplex barracks from

September 1942 through January 1943. About

1947, Warner Robins had three schools…

Thomas, Watson, Rumble. Grades one through

three went to Thomas School and grades four

through seven went to Watson. All high school

students went to Rumble” (Pollett).

Pollett goes on to say, “From all standards,

Nola Brantley was a true educator, a professional,

loyal, conscientious person who made children

the first priority…. When I think of Nola

Brantley, I remember a kind, gentle lady, with an

inner beauty, twinkling eyes, and a smile. She

made [the] world a better place in which to live.”

Columnist Skip Korson wrote of Nola Brantley

that “Talking to her was not just pleasant” and

that she “learned so much about history” when

she interviewed her. Brantley told her that she

was “proudest- and the whole city should be- of

the establishment of the library” (Korson). That

same library was named renamed the Nola

Brantley Memorial Library in 1981, one year after

Miss Brantley’s death.

Brantley “recalled that the [Women’s] Club

president in 1948, Mrs. Jay Goldstein,

contributed some of her own books [to help

establish ‘We also had book teas to collect

books,’ said Miss Nola. ‘We had 1,100 [books]

when we opened.’ The librarian was paid 50

cents an afternoon when the library was located

temporarily in a room of the old city hall. After

a brief 13 weeks, the library was forced to close

the room was needed for re-establishment of

the USO” (Korson). Brantley relayed one more

story to Korson: “A little boy came in to return

a book before closing and said, ‘See, this is my

place and when the library opens again, I want

this book back.’” The library was reestablished

in 1950.

“Miss Nola Brantley was born in Laurens

County, Georgia, graduated from Eastman High

School, received her Bachelor of Science degree

from Georgia State College for Women, and

obtained her master’s degree from the University of

Georgia.” She “taught school in Laurens, Bleckley,

Webster and Meriwether counties. She moved to

Warner Robins in 1942. From 1943 to 1944 she

taught fifth grade and served as acting principal for

the Warner Robins Elementary School. In 1944,

the name of the school was changed to Charles E.

Thomas III School, and Miss Brantley was named

as principal. [The school was named for first base

Above: Thomas School.

Bottom, left: Nola Brantley’s bell.

Bottom, right: The floor plan for the

Nola Brantley Public Library.

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 63


The historical marker for the Pearl

Stephens School.

commander, Gen. Thomas', son Charles E.

Thomas III who died in a training accident]. Miss

Brantley served as principal until her retirement in

1969” (Granum). Of Thomas School, Brantley told

Korson, “Ours was a wartime school. It didn’t

come equipped in those days with visual aids and

other equipment. It was a building with desks.”

Gervaise W. Perdue, wife of David A. Perdue, Sr.,

wrote that Brantley “loved children” and managed

people well. She said that “There was never any

dissension among the faculty. When Miss Brantley

saw one, two or three teachers gathered together in

the hall, she would walk up and tactfully say, ‘The

bell has rung, girls! [referring to her teachers]. The

children are waiting.’ We understood that language

and complied! She actually ‘rang a bell!’” (Perdue).

After World War II, Brantley and the Warner

Robins Woman’s Club turned their efforts to

establishing a public library. Several ladies

donated their own books, and the group held

tea parties and other fund raisers.

Miss Brantley was not inducted into the Hall

of Fame. The selection board noted that her

primary function was as principal, so she did

not qualify for the Teacher Hall of Fame. She

does, however, qualify as a hero for Planes,

Trains and Heroes: A History of Warner Robins.

More than one article or letter writer referred to

her “twinkling eyes.”

PEARL

STEPHENS

Pearl Stephens cared about education in her

community and donated land to create a new

school for African-American children. The

county, then, provided her with teachers, books,

and building construction. Her work was so

significant that when the school moved from

Feagin Mill Road to its newer location, the county

kept the name Pearl Stephens and named the

entry Pearl Stephens Way. Currently, the school is

FROM THE PEOPLE

“As we went forth through the early years of our education, we did recognize that we had very good and outstanding teachers

at Pearl Stephens Junior High School. As we rested from our 1965 summer times in Jody Town and Union Grove, it was time to

prepare for continuation of our education. We left our family at home, heading to integrate the school system of Houston County,

from Perry and Warner Robins. As students that were taught by teachers who showed their love; it was an encouragement to do

your best and be your best at all times. We had good community leaders such as Silas Smith and Oscar Thomie, who did their

best to make sure we receive the best education in Houston County. During the summer months, we had to learn how to go to

school with white students by riding a bus from Warner Robins to Macon, Georgia. They sent us up to attend Mercer University.

We had to attend classes that were taught by the school’s instructors. After the summer months, we started preparing our minds

to be students at Warner Robins, Northside and Perry High Schools. We didn’t prepare to ride any buses from Jody Town, but

our parents or family members would drive us to the school and drop us off at the front of the school. After a time, we would

walk from Jody Town to the high school. We didn’t feel welcome in the school after one of the meetings with the superintendent

who said, ‘I don’t know why you are comping up here; you get the same books these students get.’ The superintendent didn’t

realize that just about every one of the books were destroyed and that the backs of the books and many pages were missing. There

were a total of nineteen students who made a change in their lives to move toward the integration of Warner Robins High School.

I’m not sure of the number of black students that made the move to Northside and Perry.”

- Willie Leonard Garman (undated from files at Warner Robins Convention and Visitors Bureau).

64 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


off South Davis Drive, but in 2018 there is

discussion of a new school with her name. Her

family still works to keep the legacy intact. The

Pearl Stephens Memorial Scholarship Foundation

web page says: “Pearl Stephens was an educator,

advocate and visionary with a goal to enhance the

educational experience for children. Because of

her efforts, was inducted into the Middle Georgia

Association of Black Journalists Trailblazers Hall

of Fame in 2004, the Houston County Teacher

Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Warner Robins Hall

of Fame in 2012. On May 17, 2014 a monument

was erected at the site of the original school. On

September 10, 2017 Pearl [Jackson] Stephens

became one of the first to be featured in The

Tubman Museum and Historic Macon

Foundation exhibition: Untold Stories Macon’s

African History. A resolution was adopted in our

state archives making her a permanent part of the

history of Georgia.”

JOHN

E. ELLIOTT

Col. John E. Elliott’s (1931-2000) “military

career spanned over 31 years, involving 21 moves,

with overseas tours in Newfoundland, Vietnam,

Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. He had over

5,500 flying hours as a navigator and command

pilot. John was an Air War College graduate and

earned a masters degree from Troy State University.

His decorations include the Legion of Merit with

one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Humanitarian

Service Medal and Air Medal with oak leaf cluster”

(“In Memorial USNA 1956 John Earl Elliott”).

Later, he “initiated action [as Director of

Contracting and Manufacturing on RAFB] to

expand consolidation of requirements by

modifying the JO23 Automated Purchase System.

Previously, the preparation of an automated ‘low

density’ purchase request was limited to a single

line item. Based on the modification, multiple line

item ‘low density’ purchase requests are

mechanically generated. This program was

implemented command wide in 1981. It greatly

reduced workload within the contracting

directorate and resulted in significant savings for

the government” (A Pictorial History of Robins Air

Force Base 238). When Georgia Military College,

founded in 1879, established an extension campus

on Robins Air Force Base, the college chose John

Elliott as its first director. Always on task, he saw

the mission of GMC on RAFB as serving the

military and civilian workforce of the base. The

college grew beyond his dream and attracted

students from the civilian population of Warner

Robins, as well. After 9/11, GMC continued its

operation in “The Library” on base [Building 905],

but moved “across the fence,” into a new office

complex on land formerly used by base

operations. Today’s Elliott Hall on the Warner

Robins Campus is named in his honor. Known as,

“The Grand Gentleman of GMC,” the colonel’s last

words to faculty member and author, Dianne

Dent-Wilcox, were “Keep on keeping on.”

Although his final illness limited verbal

expression, no one questioned his experience,

wisdom, operating budget, or that he was eternally

on mission. John Earl Elliott was a 1956 graduate

of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis,

because the United States Air Force Academy,

founded 1954, was not yet open at the time

Colonel Elliott began his academic career in 1953.

Again, this shows early history of a modern air

force. Today’s Georgia Military College in Warner

Robins also manages campuses at Dublin and

Eastman, with a student body numbering between

1,600 and 2,000. The Warner Robins Campus is

part of an urban renewal project for the city.

Colonel Elliott was a hero on both sides of the

RAFB fence.

DR. DANIEL OLIVER FUSSELL

Daniel Oliver Fussell was born in Telfair

County, Georgia on March 8, 1935. His parents

were Annie Belle Harris and Dr. John Kingsberry

Fussell. When he was ten years old, he and his

parents were on their way to Macon to shop.

While traveling down the road, he observed

Boeing B-29s parked closely together as far as he

could see. They marked the end of World War II.

On the left he saw the train station and a few stores

on Front Street. He said he did not know there was

a town there. He also did not know he would later

live in this city known as Warner Robins with his

family and practice Internal Medicine for thirty

years. Fussell received his Bachelor of Science

degree from the University of Georgia and his

medical degree and residency in internal medicine

from the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Fussell,

his wife Patricia, and their daughter, Kathryn,

arrived in Warner Robins on September 15, 1969.

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 65


Dr. Dan Fussell.

Their daughter Elizabeth was born in Warner

Robins in 1970. Dr. Fussell came to Warner

Robins as the first internal medicine specialist. He

inserted the first pacemaker in Warner Robins and

organized the first functional intensive care unit in

what is now known as Houston Medical Center.

This allowed critically ill patients to remain in

Warner Robins for their care. He was practicing

medicine a few years when he was called by a

physician in Perry, Georgia about a patient with a

cardiac blockage. Dr. Fussell inserted a temporary

pacemaker. This required the patient to be

transferred to the hospital in Warner Robins for

monitoring. The ambulance was an older style

with a low clearance and could not transport a

patient needing IV fluids. Robins Air Force Base

supplied a military ambulance with the height to

transport the patient to Warner Robins. Dr. Fussell

retired from the practice of medicine on March 30,

2000. During his time in Warner Robins, he

watched the town flourish as the hospital grew

larger, the medical staff increased, and physicians

offered more services. In a restaurant one day, a

lady walked to Dr. Fussell’s table. She said, “You

resuscitated me three times when you could have

walked away. You didn’t. Thank you!”

Paul Hibbits would call himself one of a multitude

of torchbearers; but under his leadership, the

“American Association of Museums (AAM),

Washington, D.C.…granted the Museum of

Aviation Flight and Technology Center at Robins

Air Force Base full accreditation,” which only

about five percent of thousands of United States

museums hold. On August 5, 2005, a letter arrived

from Accreditation Commission Chair, Martin

Sullivan saying, “The Commission determined that

your institution meets the high standards

established by the Accreditation Program and the

museum field. The institution has demonstrated

this through its completion of a rigorous process of

self-study and reviews by a Visiting Committee of

its peers and the Accreditation Commission.”

Hibbits served as a college extension director on

RAFB for Georgia College and State University and

as a board member for Flint Electric Membership

Cooperation. He is a Middle Georgia hero.

DR. DAN

CALLAHAN

Dr. Dan Callahan served as a medic in World

War II, then completed his medical training.

One of the first doctors to practice in Warner

Robins, he served the community for over fifty

years. According to The Telegraph, Callahan

created the acronym “EDIMGIAFAD,” which

Warner Robins now uses as an official motto:

“Every Day In Middle Georgia Is Armed Forces

Appreciation Day.” Callahan helped start Happy

Hour Service Center, which provides training

and jobs for developmentally disabled adults,

and he actively supported RAFB. He received

the Exceptional Service Medal from the Air

Force. Callahan also served on the boards of

the Museum of Aviation, Houston County-

Middle Georgia Red Cross, Houston County

Association for Exceptional Citizens, the Warner

Robins Area Chamber of Commerce, was a

member of the Rotary Club, worked with the

Air Force Association, and attended Sacred

Heart Catholic Church.

DAVID

PERDUE

PAUL

HIBBITS

Many people helped bring the Museum of

Aviation from an idea to a reality. Former Director

On June 7, 2018, WMAZ-TV reporter Jacob

Reynolds presented and posted an article, titled

“U.S. Senator David Perdue Assures Robins will

be a Force for Decades to Come.” Reynolds says,

66 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


“This comes after the Air Force announced an

Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) will

come to the Base in the near future. The 21st

Century Partnership believes this new mission

“will put Central Georgia on the leading edge of

military technology.” When operational, it will use

current and emerging technologies in “surveillance

and reconnaissance information” directly to

commanders and “is the first management system

of this kind anywhere in the Air Force.”

Full implementation may take a decade or

more, which helps secure the position of Robins

Air Force Base to national security and makes the

future of Warner Robins, Georgia a brighter one.

HENRIETTA

MCINTYRE

Henrietta McIntyre (1924 – 2016) grew up in

Lincoln County Georgia. She moved to Warner

Robins in 1944 to work at Robins Air Field.

Through the years, she worked with the

“Community Chest, now known as United Way,

…Pilot Club, Robins Jaycettes, Little League

Auxiliary, Pink Ladies Auxiliary, Civitan,

American Red Cross, Air Force Association,

Special Olympics, and Christmas in April” (The

Telegraph). She served five terms on Warner

Robins’ City Council and was active in

Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Henrietta

McIntyre served as acting mayor of Warner

Robins from 1993-1994 and was inducted as

an inaugural member of the Warner Robins Hall

of Fame.

RANDY

TOMS

Randy Toms, while serving as a Warner

Robins firefighter, wanted to increase his service

to the city. With that in mind, he returned to

school as a non-traditional student, completed an

associate degree at Georgia Military College’s

Warner Robins campus and then was elected

mayor. He says “It was service in protecting and

serving our country, and then our city, that led

me to run for mayor. We all know that Warner

Above: EDIMGIAFAD—“Every Day

In Middle Georgia Is Armed Forces

Appreciation Day”—the official motto

of Warner Robins, was created by Dr.

Dan Callahan.

Below: Henrietta McIntyre in 1944.

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 67


Robins is the best possible place to live, work and

raise a family. Even Business Week and CNN

Money have put us on their best places to live list”

(Mayor Randy Toms on Facebook). He goes on to

say, “I was born here, raised here, and my wife

Jane and I raised our own two children here.

After serving as an airman in the U.S. Air Force, I

came back to Warner Robins and recently retired

after serving our great city for twenty-seven years

as an officer and chaplain in the Warner Robins

Fire Department. I was also honored to serve as

the chaplain for the Georgia Association of Fire

Chiefs” (Mayor Randy Toms on Facebook).

LARRY

WALKER

Houston County native Larry Walker

represented Georgians from 1972 until 2004.

He was majority leader of the Georgia

House of Representatives for sixteen of

those years. Today, as a founding member

of the law firm Walker, Hulbert, Gray & Moore,

he “represents individuals, small businesses,

corporations, and banking institutions in all

aspects of real estate, commercial transactions,

civil litigation, estate and probate, personal

injury and wrongful death matters” (“Larry

Walker Founding Partner Walker, Hulbert,

Gray & Moore, LLC”). He continues to

serve on “the University System of Georgia

Board of Regents as an at-large member” and

writes for The Telegraph and James Magazine

on “family, everything Southern, reading,

politics, and, of course, folks” (“Larry Walker

Founding Partner”).

LARRY WALKER III

State Senator Larry Walker III represents

Georgia’s 20th District. Elected in 2015, he

“serves on the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs,

Appropriations, Health and Human Services, and

Insurance and Labor standing committees. He is

also a member of the joint House and Senate

Agricultural Exposition Authority Overview

Committee, the Agriculture Education Advisory

Commission, and he serves as administration

floor leader for Governor Nathan Deal” (“Georgia

State Senate: Senator Larry Walker III”). Houston

Magazine named him “a top 10 leader under 40,”

in 2004, and the Macon Telegraph listed him as

one of 14 to watch in 2014” (“Georgia State

Senate”). Senator Walker also serves on the board

of The Museum of Aviation.

RICHARD

RAY

Richard Belmont Ray “began his political career

in Perry, Georgia, serving as a member of the city

council from 1962 to 1964, and as mayor from

1964 to 1970. It was as mayor that he first worked

with Sam Nunn by appointing him to an advisory

panel on race relations, an association that would

last for the rest of his career. When Nunn was

elected a U.S. senator in 1972, Ray went to

Washington with him to be his administrative

Richard Ray represented Georgia’s

Third District in Congress from 1983

to 1993.

68 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


assistant. He held this position until 1982, when

Ray ran for office himself following Representative

Jack Brinkley’s retirement” (“Richard Ray Papers

Biographical Note”). He represented Georgia’s

Third District in Congress from 1983 until 1993.

Ray’s participation on the Armed Services

Committee was important to Georgia’s Fort

Benning and Robins Air Force Base, which are

major economic contributors in the Third District.

Ray also helped establish Plains, Georgia as a

historic district “to honor [Plains/Archery native]

former President Jimmy Carter” (“Richard Ray

Papers Biographical Note”). Topics covered in Ray’s

papers include discussions of “tax reform,

balancing the federal budget, defense sending,

Georgia military bases, Georgia business, and

development projects in the Third District”

(Richard Ray Papers Biographical Note”). He lived

from 1927 until 1999.

SAM

NUNN

Samuel Augustus Nunn was born on

September 8, 1938 in Macon, Georgia but

represented Houston County and Middle Georgia

during his distinguished political career.

Graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology,

Emory University, and Emory Law School, Nunn

served with the United States Coast Guard until

he ran for and won a seat in the Georgia General

Assembly in 1968. He ran for and won a seat in

the United States Senate in 1972 and served

until 1996 as member and chair of the Senate

Armed Services Committee and Permanent

Subcommittee on Investigations. According to

the New Georgia Encyclopedia, Nunn’s “passion for

foreign policy and military affairs led him to

concentrate on global issues, particularly issues

concerning the proliferation of weapons of

mass destruction in the world” (Pavri). This

impacted Middle Georgia’s promilitary stance and

helped in the continued growth of Robins Air

Force Base. Nunn also “sponsored legislation in

1989 that encouraged great citizen participation

in the service of the country by offering

educational benefits, including federal loans and

scholarships, in return for up to two years of

public service in a ‘civilian service corps’ or

in the military” (Pavri). He continues active

involvement in global issues, teaches in

the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at

Georgia Tech, and serves on boards of several

major corporations.

SONNY

PERDUE

George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue, born in Perry,

Houston County, Georgia on December 20, 1946,

served as Georgia’s Governor from 2003-2011, and

in 2018, serves as United States Secretary of

Agriculture. Once a Democrat, Perdue “switched to

the Republican Party before governing Georgia for

two terms from 2003 to 2011. He has a strong

agricultural background, having grown up on a

farm and earned a doctorate in veterinary

medicine. As governor of Georgia, he also took

conservative stances on immigration and voting

rights and drew national headlines for holding a

public vigil to pray for rain in 2007 amidst a

crippling drought” (O’Keefe and Eilperin).

Confirmed in 2017, Perdue now leads “a sprawling

agency with a $155 billion annual budget and close

to 100,000 employees. This makes it one of the

largest federal departments, and one that includes

branches ranging from the U.S. Forest Service to

the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

(APHIS) and duties ranging from co-publishing the

U.S. Dietary Guidelines to running the school

lunch program (O’Keefe and Eilperin).”

FROM THE PEOPLE

Roberta Wallace Jolley, while working in

Warner Robins, saw a man enter her

building. She asked, "May I help you?" and

efficiently handled the business side of

their transaction. In a moment, she turned

and said, "Excuse me, but you look

familiar. Were you governor? He langhed

and replied, ‘Call me Sonny.’”

Sam Nunn served in the U.S. Senate

from 1972 to 1996.

Warner Robins Heroes ✦ 69


70 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES

WARNER ROBINS IN PRINT


Warner Robins in Print ✦ 71


AFTERWORD

The past should teach us how to handle the future: “I was on base, teaching for Georgia Military

College in Building 905, on the morning of September 11, 2001. Someone, I couldn’t tell you who,

stopped by my office and said, ‘You need to come to the T.V. now.’ I arrived in one of the base offices

in time to see the second airliner hit the World Trade Center. Shortly thereafter, someone said, ‘We

have ten minutes to get off the base before they lock it down.’ We heard reports, and it doesn’t matter

now whether they were true or not, that a commercial airliner was headed for Robins and that the

authorities could not get a response from the onboard crew. The day was as intense as any I’ve

experienced. I spent it glued to the television and that is not my normal mode of operation. At a

meeting in downtown Macon the next day, I remember that people were nicer than before, more

polite; it seemed that cultural differences faded. We really were the United States for a while. Two

weeks later, when I returned to work and drove through the new serpentine access to Robins Air

Force Base, I did so beneath a guard holding a machine gun atop a Hummer. The moral of this story

is that when the worst happened, RAFB and the City of Warner Robins were ready. I was one of

thousands of non-essential personnel who were off the base in ten minutes. The sleepy and primarily

Civil Service base came to immediate military readiness. The city and surrounding areas focused on

plans for assisting in any way possible. Then, Georgia Military College had a small extension campus

on base serving about 200 students. After 9/11, the City of Warner Robins partnered with us to place

a city campus on land once used for military housing as part of an urban redevelopment plan.

Growth exploded. Today, Dublin and Eastman extension campuses work under the Warner Robins

campus with a student population approaching 2,000.

The reclaimed military housing area is a modern business park with ponds, walking trails, labeled

plant life, and its own population of wild geese. One of the trails passes a beautiful olive tree

honoring Barbara Shaheen, another proactive citizen who left a scholarship to build Warner Robins

for the future.

Middle Georgia is an area that adapts, overcomes, and succeeds.

72 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Haydee Acosta

Archeology on Big Indian Creek

Emily Beck

Patti Ferrell Bedford

Emily Denny Bishop

Mark Bohnstedt, Nola Brantley Library,

Warner Robins, Georgia

The Ron Bohnstedt Family

Marsha Priest Buzzell

Lonnie Davis

Debra Parkman Elliott

Jennifer Lauren English

Sarah Curington Eno

Bret Evans

Karen Fowler

The Willie Leonard Garman Family

Cindy McCullough Gentry

Linda Farone

Patricia Fussell

Steve Holleman

Joy McCammon

Ocmulgee Archaeological Society

Joan Dembowski Pottinger

Dianne Ward Dean

Dodge County Public Library Staff

Ben Elton

Vanessa Smith

Lou Crouch

David Gorman

William P. Head

Dan Hart

Toby Hill

The Reggie Holleman Family

Chuck Hulon

Roberta Wallace Jolley

Ashley Killbrew

Ken Lance

Opal Dent Smith Lassiter

Ellie Loudermilk

April Moyer Lunceford

Betty Cantrell Maxwell and Spencer Maxwell

Beth Conley McLaughlin

Jason Merideth

Nola Brantley Public Library Staff

Booker O’Brien

Ted Ramsdell

Alice Flagg Smith

Grady Stokes

Randy Toms

Janie Townsend

Lee Vanosdol

Ginny Weaver

Diane Wagner

John Wagner, Sr.

Erik Walton

April Renfro Warren

Dara West

Tommy Williams

PHOTO PERMISSIONS GRANTED BY

Nola Brantley Public Library

Perry Area Historical Museum

RAFB Office of History

The Museum of Aviation

Warner Robins Convention and Visitors Bureau

Acknowledgements ✦ 73


WORKS CITED

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Georgia: University Press of the South, 1982.

“Bobbie Eakes: Biography.” IMBd. Accessed March 12, 2018.

“Bobbie Eakes: Miss Georgia 1982.” After the Crown. March 30, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2018.

Butt, Jason. “Far From Unprepared UGA QB Displays ‘It-Factor’ to Teammates.” The Telegraph, September 4, 2017. Accessed March

13, 2018.

“Civilian Conservation Corps at Ocmulgee National Monument 1937-1942.” Site Bulletin, Ocmulgee National Monument. U.S.

Department of the Interior. Accessed June 5, 2018.

Cook, James F. "Carl Vinson (1883-1981)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 21 February 2018. Web. 11 June 2018.

Crenshaw, Wayne. “He Created EDIMGIAFAD and Happy Hour Service Center.” The Telegraph. December 6, 2016. Accessed June

23, 2018.

Dawkins, Gabrielle. “Jody Town Community Reunites Again.” 13WMAZ. May 28, 2016. Accessed July 12, 2018.

Dixon, Claire M. Warner Robins: The Second 25 Years. Alpharetta, Georgia: Wolfe Associates, 1993.

Evans, Brett. Interview, March 1, 2018.

Ford, Latasha. “A Jewell of the Community.” Houston Home Journal, March 1, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2018.

Ford, Latasha. “Sheriff Cullen Talton Sworn in for 12th Term.” Houston Home Journal, December 24, 2016. Accessed March 12, 2018.

“Georgia State Senate: Senator Larry Walker III.” Accessed March 13, 2018.

Goldstein, Richard. “Robert Scott War-Hero Author Dies at 97.” New York Times, February 2, 2006. Accessed March 12, 2018.

Granum, Eleanor R. “Letter of Recommendation to Houston County Teacher Hall of Fame,” April 2007. On file at Nola Brantley

Memorial Library, Warner Robins.

Guide to the Robins Region Georgia. Robins Regional Chamber. St. Simons Island, Georgia: 365 Degree Total Marketing, 2017.

Hart, Dan. Interview, December 2, 2017.

Head, William and Diane H. Truluck. A History of the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, The Crown Jewel of Georgia. ffice of History,

Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, October 1997.

Head, William P. A Photographic History of Robins AFB, 1941-2016: 75 Years of Power Projection. 78 ABW History Office.

Head, William P. “Robert Scott (1908-2006).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Accessed March 12, 2018.

Head, William P. Through the Camera’s Eye: A Photographic Survey of the Origins of Robins Field, 1841-1945. Office of History, Warner

Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, 1988.

“Henrietta McIntyre Obituary–Warner Robins, GA.” The Telegraph. “Henrietta McIntyre Obituary–Warner Robins, GA.” August 9,

2016. Accessed August 3, 2018.

“Houston County, Georgia.” Government Website. Accessed March 12, 2018.

“In Memorial USNA 1956 John Earl Elliott.” Accessed March 13, 2018.

“Jake Fromm.” University of Georgia Football Roster 2017. Accessed March 13, 2018.

Korson, Skip. “Personally Speaking: Woman’s Dream of a Library a Reality.” The Daily Sun. Nola Brantley Memorial Library History

Room. Accessed February 28, 2018.

Kovac, Jr., Joe. “10 Years Ago They were Little League Heroes. Now They’re All Grown Up.” The Telegraph, August 25, 2017. Accessed

June 15, 2018.

“Larry Walker Founding Partner Walker, Hulbert, Gray & Moore, LLC.” Accessed March 13, 2018.

Maffeo, S. Michael. “Camp Wheeler” Site Bulletin, Ocmulgee National Monument.

“Mayor Randy Toms.” City of Warner Robins, Georgia Directory. Accessed March 12, 2018.

“Mayor Randy Toms.” Facebook. Accessed March 12, 2018.

Mooney, Chris and John Wagner. “Who is Sonny Perdue?” Accessed March 12, 2018.

Nelson, Bobbe Hickson. A Land So Dedicated: Houston County, Georgia. Perry, Georgia: Houston County Library Services, 1976.

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O’Keefe, Ed and Juliet Eilperin. “Trump Picks Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary.” Washington Post, January 19, 2017. Accessed

March 12, 2018.

Oshan, Jeremiah. “LLWS 2011: How Warner Robins’ Little League Baseball Team Got Here.” SBNation, August 16, 2011. Accessed

June 21, 2018.

Pavri, Tinaz. “Sam Nunn (b. 1938).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. December 16, 2003. Last edited by NGE Staff on April 7, 2015.

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Pearl Stephens Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Accessed June 23, 2018.

Perdue, Gervaise W. “Letter of Recommendation to Houston County Teacher Hall of Fame.” April 2007. On file at Nola Brantley

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Reynolds, Jacob. “U.S. Senator David Perdue Assures Robins will be a Force for Decades to Come: 21st Century Partnership and

Senator Perdue say Announcement of New Battle Management System is Good News for Long-Term Future of Robins Air Force

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Works Cited ✦ 75


SHARING THE HERITAGE

Historic profiles of businesses, organizations,

and families that have contributed to

the development and continued growth of

the Warner Robins Region

76 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


First United Methodist Church of Warner Robins ..................................................................78

Mercer University School of Engineering and Mercer Engineering Research Center .....................80

Heart of Georgia Hospice..................................................................................................82

Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School ............................................................................84

Southern Lighting ............................................................................................................86

Wellston Decorating .........................................................................................................88

American Legion Post 172 .................................................................................................90

Family Dental Associates ..................................................................................................92

Georgia Military College...................................................................................................94

Central Georgia Periodontics and Dental Implants ................................................................96

Jimmy Spinks, State Farm Agent ........................................................................................98

Clean Control Corporation ..............................................................................................100

Golden Key Realty .........................................................................................................102

Flint Energies ...............................................................................................................104

Buzzell Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.................................................................106

Middle Georgia State University.......................................................................................108

Combined Employees Credit Union....................................................................................109

21st Century Partnership ................................................................................................110

Vision Savers, Inc. .........................................................................................................111

Northrop Grumman ........................................................................................................112

Waddle Surveying Company, Inc. ......................................................................................113

Physicians for Women, PC ...............................................................................................114

Sushi Thai Restaurant ....................................................................................................115

Griggers Wealth Management...........................................................................................116

Meadowdale Learning Centers..........................................................................................117

Custom Cable Assemblies ................................................................................................118

Museum of Aviation........................................................................................................119

Perry-Houston County Airport Authority ...........................................................................120

Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau .....................................................................121

PeachState Hospitality....................................................................................................122

Robins Regional Chamber ................................................................................................123

Yelverton Jewelers..........................................................................................................124

Lammert Inc. ................................................................................................................125

S PECIAL T HANKS TO

Academy of Dance

438 South Pleasant Hill Road

Warner Robins, Georgia 31903

478-922-6220

www.academyofdancewr.com

National Exterminating Company, Inc.

107 Westcliff Boulevard

Warner Robins, Georgia 31903

478-922-1410

www.nationalexterminating.com

Strato, Inc.

1836 Watson Boulevard

Warner Robins, Georgia 31903

478-923-4225

www.stratoinc.com

Davis Printing Company

1240 Watson Boulevard

Warner Robins, Georgia 31903

478-929-4938

www.davisprintingwr.com

Phillips Furniture

1734 Watson Boulevard

Warner Robins, Georgia 31903

478-922-6117

www.phillipsfurnitureinc.com

Word in Season Ministries

1520 Feagan Mill Road

Warner Robins, Georgia 31088

478-224-9476

www.mywism.com

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 77


FIRST UNITED

METHODIST

CHURCH OF

WARNER

ROBINS

Top: The pipe organ was installed in

1980 and at Christmastime is

surrounded by colors and symbols

of the season celebrating the birth

of Jesus.

Bottom: Celebrating Easter with the

church family–a welcoming

congregation at a church that offers

programs and opportunities for

all ages.

The origin of the Methodist Church in

Warner Robins, Georgia, dates back to 1892,

when small societies of Methodists were

meeting in the little towns along the Georgia

Southern and Florida Railway line. On

September 25, 1894, a church site located on

Cherry Street (now known as Watson

Boulevard) between Third Street and Fourth

Street was deeded to the Trustees of the

Methodist Episcopal Church South at Wellston,

Georgia (the predecessor of Warner Robins).

Church records from 1895 to 1904 show

growth and decline of these church societies

along the railway. By 1930, the Methodist

church in Wellston closed because of dwindling

membership and disrepair of the building.

The 1941 selection of Wellston, Georgia, as the

site for the construction of an Air Corps depot

brought new growth to the area and a revival of

the Methodist Church. On August 31, 1941, the

first service for the re-established Methodist

Church at Wellston was held at the Community

House across the street from the church’s previous

location. On September 17, 1943, the Trustees of

Wellston Methodist Church purchased land on

Davis Drive in their city, which was now known as

Warner Robins. The first service for the Methodist

Church of Warner Robins was held at the new

building on Davis Drive on January 30, 1944. The

building was destroyed by fire two weeks after the

opening service. After the fire, services were held

in Thomas Elementary School until the burned

building could be renovated. At the April 3, 1952,

meeting of the Board of Stewards and Trustees, a

motion was made and carried changing the name

of the church from the Methodist Church of

Warner Robins to First Methodist Church because

another Methodist Church was being formed in

the area. On Christmas Eve 1967, when the first

service was held in the current sanctuary, the

name on the front of the church showed “First

Methodist Church” for the United Methodist

organization had not yet been formed. In April

1968, the Methodist Church united with the

Evangelical United Brethren Church and became

known as the United Methodist Church, and the

church that began as the Methodist Church of

Wellston, Georgia, became known as First United

Methodist Church of Warner Robins, Georgia.

First United Methodist Church and the city of

Warner Robins have undergone many changes

through the years. The history of the church

reflects the history of the community. First

Methodist played instrumental roles in the

78 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


formation of other Methodist churches in the

community, including Northview, Trinity,

Centerville, and Christ. First Methodist has

sponsored a church bazaar/marketplace since

1968, flea markets since 1990, and consignment

sales since 2011. They organized the first

church-sponsored Boy Scout troop in 1956,

opened the first weekday preschool and

kindergarten (Cheerful Cherubs) in September

1950, televised worship services since July 1974,

installed the city’s first pipe organ in 1980,

opened the doors to a clothes closet from 1971

until 2013, provided food for families through a

food closet from 1983 until the opening of the

food pantry in 1991, fed the hungry in the soup

kitchen since August 1990, and provided shelter

and support to families since 2010.

The history and heritage of First United

Methodist Church is a firm foundation upon which

the future grows. The church offers programs and

opportunities for all ages. The church family

demonstrates the power of God’s work through

spiritual leadership, faith, community, love and

outreach by making a difference here and around

the world.

First United Methodist Church is located at

205 North Davis Drive in Warner Robins. Call

us at 478-923-3737 or visit our website at

www.welcometofirst.org for directions, service

times, and much more.

Top: First United Methodist Church,

located at 205 North Davis Drive in

Warner Robins, Georgia, has been an

integral part of the community since

before Warner Robins was formed.

Below: The stained glass windows

installed in October 1998 depict

scenes in the life of Jesus Christ. The

people of the church share the power

of God’s work.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 79


MERCER

UNIVERSITY

SCHOOL OF

ENGINEERING

AND MERCER

ENGINEERING

RESEARCH

CENTER

Top: Mercer University President Dr.

R. Kirby Godsey and Warner Robins

Air Logistics Center Commander

Major General Cornelius Nugteren

sign a memorandum of understanding

to make the base a satellite campus

for Mercer’s new School of

Engineering, which welcomed its first

class in 1985.

Below: Dr. Carroll Gambrell (center

left) and Dr. R. Kirby Godsey

(center right) with the inaugural

faculty of Mercer University School

of Engineering.

.

From the time Major General

Cornelius Nugteren took command

of Warner Robins Air

Logistics Center in September

1982, he sought to remedy a

shortage of engineers on the base.

Mercer Engineering Research

Center Executive Director Andi

Mitchell remembers Nugteren as a

man with a remarkable gift to tie

communities together, and as

such, he was a member of both

the Warner Robins and Macon

Chamber of Commerce.

Melvin Kruger, who served as

president of the Macon Chamber of Commerce,

offered to accompany Nugteren to the office of

then-Mercer President Dr. R. Kirby Godsey.

Upon Kruger’s introduction of these two

visionary leaders, they soon developed a plan

to provide the base—and all of Middle

Georgia—with a local source of engineers and

engineering research.

Mercer and the Macon Chamber of

Commerce jointly sponsored a five-month study

of current and projected needs for various types

of engineers. The results supported Nugteren’s

view that the region did not have the educational

programs to meet the needs of the base, nor

the needs of other industries targeted for economic

development.

In December 1984, Mercer’s Board of

Trustees approved plans for an engineering

school, and four months later, Dr. Carroll

Gambrell, former executive vice president and

provost of West Coast University in Los Angeles,

California, was hired as its dean. Mercer welcomed

its first class of engineering students in

the fall of 1985.

Nugteren and Godsey also signed a memorandum

of understanding to make the base a

satellite campus for the new engineering school

and provide for faculty to teach both undergraduate

and graduate courses in Warner Robins.

The goal for the first year was to have twenty

military personnel, civil servants and dependents

enrolled in each course on base with an

additional 50 to 100 freshmen in the engineering

program on the Macon campus.

Currently, the School of Engineering

has more than 800 students enrolled in its

bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

To date, Mercer has awarded more than

2,000 degrees to engineers in the fields of

biomedical, computer, electrical, environmental,

industrial and mechanical engineering,

as well as industrial management,

technical communication and engineering

for development.

The School of Engineering has provided

more entry-level engineers to Robins

Air Force Base than any other school, and

nearly half of its living alumni reside in

Middle Georgia.

In July 1987, less than two years after

the School of Engineering opened its

doors, Mercer Engineering Research

80 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Center (MERC), the applied engineering and

research arm of the University, opened with

three employees in a strip shopping center

located on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins.

The Center’s purpose was–and still is–to provide

locally available engineering and scientific

services and critical specialized technical skills

to supplement the Warner Robins Air Logistics

Complex and other customers.

The Center’s first contract for $8,400

involved reverse engineering and providing

schematic and wiring diagrams, fabrication

drawings, parts and material information, performance

specifications and test procedures to

support the manufacture and quality control of

an intercom terminal board for the U.S. Air

Force (USAF).

Today, MERC continues to work to sustain

virtually every aging aircraft in the USAF

fleet. Major projects include rotary wing engineering

support, C-130 Functional System

Integrity Program support, aging bomber electronic

warfare support and C-5/HH-60 avionics

reverse engineering.

Over the last three decades, MERC has developed

a highly qualified professional staff, complex

tools and test equipment, and extensive

technical capabilities in the fields of aircraft

structural analysis and design, flight test instrumentation,

reverse engineering and prototyping,

laboratory structural testing, electronic warfare

software algorithm development, web deployed

applications with integrated database access,

industrial engineering, logistics, and reliability

and biomedical engineering.

The Center has employed a total of 279

engineers, and currently staffs more than 190

engineers, scientists and other employees in a

113,000-square-foot, state-ofthe-art

facility on Osigian

Boulevard. To date, MERC has

received nearly $500 million

in contracts, including support

for twenty different models

of USAF aircraft and one

Navy submarine.

“The School of Engineering

and the Mercer Engineering

Research Center are important

examples of how Mercer

University has engaged the

educational, cultural and economic well-being

of this region as a part of its primary mission.

Both the School and the Center have made and

continue to make transformative contributions

that expand the reach of the University’s influence

through research, while enhancing the

work of Robins Air Force Base, the Department

of Defense and Warner Robins and enriching

the economic and cultural foundations of

Macon,” said Godsey.

Nugteren retired from the Air Force in 1988,

but his impact on Mercer and MERC would not

come to an end. In August 1996, he joined the

staff at MERC as a senior adviser, a role he

would fulfill for the next nineteen years.

“He was a wonderful mentor,” recalled

Mitchell, who was the third employee hired by

MERC and has been instrumental in the establishment

and success of the Center. “He instilled

in us the discipline of customer service in supporting

the warfighter.”

Top: Mercer Engineering Research

Center currently operates in a

113,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art

facility on Osigian Boulevard in

Warner Robins with a staff of more

than 190 engineers, scientists and

other employees.

Below: Mercer Engineering Research

Center works to sustain virtually

every aging aircraft in the United

States Air Force fleet. Major projects

include rotary wing engineering

support, C-130 Functional System

Integrity Program support, aging

bomber electronic warfare support

and C-5/HH-60 avionics reverse

engineering.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 81


HEART OF

GEORGIA

HOSPICE

Top: Camp Wings is held annually

and is open to all children who have

lost a loved one.

“Heart of Georgia Hospice is the

Hospice with the Big Heart.” Their logo–

a heart nestled within an outline of the

State of Georgia not only epitomizes that

motto, but perfectly describes what many

patients and families have known since

the organization was founded in 1984.

“The staff was so nice and caring.

They made my daddy’s final days as

comfortable as possible for him, and for

us,” proclaims one of a host of

five-star reviews on the organization’s

Facebook page.

“Wonderful, great, fantastic, in other

words, angels,” echoes another. “If we

needed something, they were there.”

Heart of Georgia Hospice has been

there for thousands of patients and their

families spanning more than three

decades. Back in 1984, a group of compassionate

residents saw a need and

cared enough to fill it by creating the

county’s first hospice organization.

“There were no other hospice providers

in Houston County at that time,” said

Dawn Rozar, the executive director of

what was once called Hospice of Houston

County and today remains the county’s only

nonprofit, Christian-based hospice. “Even with

limited funds, the organization grew steadily

from the start.”

In fact, it was growth that prompted the

organization to officially change its name to

Heart of Georgia Hospice in July 2006 to better

reflect its expanding service area, which has

encompassed a forty-five-mile radius of the

home office in Warner Robins since 1998.

Today, Heart of Georgia’s service area includes

Houston, Bibb, Bleckley, Crawford, Dooly,

Macon, Peach, Pulaski, Taylor, and Twiggs

Counties. The organization works diligently to

be a good hometown neighbor to all, providing

comprehensive care and comfort to terminally

ill patients and their families, without regard to

race, creed, sexual orientation, ethnic background,

or religious beliefs.

They provide care in the homes of patients as

well as in assisted living facilities, nursing

homes and also operate an Inpatient Care Unit

inside Perry Hospital at 1120 Morningside

Drive. Opened in 2003, the Heart of Georgia

Inpatient Care Unit is a six-bed unit that serves

those patients who need a higher level of care

than can be provided in a home setting.

Heart of Georgia is guided by a communitybased

board of directors and is supported by a

team of professional staff and dedicated volunteers,

including the likes of “Huggin’ Hazel”

Colson. Named for her propensity for passing

out hugs, Huggin’ Hazel, who turned ninetyone

years young in 2018, has been a nurse for

more than seven decades and has been the face

of Heart of Georgia Hospice since she was hired

82 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


in 1987. She says it has never seemed like a job

to her.

It is apparent that all of her co-workers–

whether volunteer or paid–feel the same. They

love their jobs; they are fully invested in helping

others; and they have the heart and the knowhow

to do so.

“When it comes to caring for our patients

and families, we go outside of the box,” says

Human Resources Manager Sherry Robinson.

“We go beyond typical hospice care with a

number of complementary programs such as

the My Story Program, the Veteran’s Honor

Ceremony, a Christmas Memorial Service, and

the Heart of Georgia Hospice Casserole

Ministry in which we partner with churches

and individuals to deliver hundreds of

casseroles to our patients’ families each year.

And, we never send a bill.”

Even after a patient passes away, Heart of

Georgia’s certified counselor is available to help

those left to grieve, free of charge, regardless of

whether their loved one used Heart of Georgia

Hospice services or not. For youth, Camp

Wings is a free bereavement camp founded by

the organization in 2000. It is held annually

each fall and staffed by more than seventy-five

trained counselors, social workers and volunteers

who work to help bereaved children

understand that their feelings of sadness

and grief are normal. The camp includes an

array of activities from group therapy sessions to

plenty of arts and crafts, outdoor activities and

great food.

As a nonprofit organization committed to

never sending a bill to its families, Heart of

Georgia depends heavily on and is very thankful

for its volunteers as well as monetary and item

donations, which staff and fund day-to-day missions.

Item donations produce income via two

thrift stores owned and operated by the organization.

Touted by the organization as having the

lowest thrift prices around, shoppers are invited

to watch the Thrift Store Facebook page at

www.facebook.com/hoghospicethriftstore for

daily sales items.

For more information on how to utilize Heart

of Georgia Hospice programs, how to become a

volunteer or donate money or goods, visit

www.heartofgahospice.org or stop by the office

at 103 Westridge Drive, Warner Robins. You

may also call 478-953-5161.

.

Above: 2017 Camp Wings’ campers

and staff gather for a group photo

after three days of outdoor activities

and games such as low-ropes courses,

jumpy houses, hayrides, horseback

riding, pet therapy and campfires, just

to name a few!

Below: Heart of Georgia has two thrift

stores–one located at 1851 Watson

Boulevard and the other at 311

Highway 49 North in the Peach Shops

at Byron. Both generate money that

stays in the community and benefits

our patients, their families and the

community. All donations are tax

deductible!

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 83


SACRED HEART

CATHOLIC

CHURCH AND

SCHOOL

“Sacred Heart Parish seeks to live its

Catholic tradition and to build a community

of faith through worship, education, stewardship,

Christian service, and evangelization in

order to share God’s love for all people.”

The first Sacred Heart Church was dedicated

in 1945 to serve the fifteen families already

residing in this area and the 200 new Catholic

families who moved here to support Robins

AFB. Sacred Heart was one of the first churches

to move out of the Base USO and build their

own worship space. Today, Sacred Heart is still

located in downtown Warner Robins, worshipping

in our third church and has over 1,200 registered

households.

In 1955, in an effort to meet the Catholic

needs of new military families, Colonel King on

Robins AFB and Reverend McDonough from

Macon successfully opened the doors to Sacred

Heart Catholic School. The first classes were

held in military barracks to an estimated ninety

students. Through the dedication of the

Presentation Sisters, generous parishioners, and

school families, Sacred Heart has enjoyed a

steady enrollment for almost seventy years.

Sacred Heart ministers to parishioners and to

the local community. Since 1984, the Christian

Service Center, CSC, has been the primary arm

through which Sacred Heart has served our

community neighbors. As a result of the generous

support of Sacred Heart parishioners and

other community churches and organizations,

the CSC is able to assist those in need. In Fiscal

Year 2017, the CSC provided over 2,800 families

critical support of food, clothing and emergency

financial assistance. The

impact of the CSC is the creation of a

contagious spirit of giving, which

was illustrated when an anonymous

donation was made from a former

CSC client for $200 to help other

families in need.

Sacred Heart is a Parish where all

are welcomed. Being located in

Warner Robins, the International

City, Sacred Heart has always

embraced diversity and built a

Christian community that is blessed

and enhanced by many cultural

influences. Sacred Heart has a number

of ministries that celebrate our

diversity such as the Black Catholic

Ministry and the Korean Prayer

Group. As the number of Hispanics

increased in Houston County, Sacred

Heart took steps back in the 1980s to

support their spiritual needs. The

Hispanic ministry has grown from

humble beginnings of twenty to thirty

faithful occasionally celebrating

84 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Mass in Spanish to now 450 to 500 parishioners

celebrating the Mass in Spanish weekly.

Quarterly Vietnamese Masses are offered at

Sacred Heart. Our church community worships

together in love and respect.

Sacred Heart continues to show its commitment

to Warner Robins through an investment

of over $18 million dollars in new facilities over

the last fifteen years in the Commercial Circle

area. On March 3, 2007, the church dedicated

its present sanctuary. Because of the generosity

of Sacred Heart parishioners, the mortgage was

burned May 2014. As members of Sacred Heart,

we enjoy the faithfulness of the parish every

time we use the facilities to pray, worship and

serve as a community.

In November 2015, the Parish broke ground

for a new school, social hall and parish office

and in January 2017, all school and church

operations moved into the new state-of-the-art

facilities. This unification of the school and

parish promises to preserve the original mission

of the Presentation Sisters who supported the

school from 1956-2003. That mission, as given

to them by their foundress, Nano Nagle, is “to

teach, to touch the future and the future of the

Church in a very special way.”

With the recent updated and expanded

facilities, Sacred Heart is ready to serve the

spiritual and educational needs of the Warner

Robins community for years to come. We

welcome the community to tour our beautiful

church and educational facilities, send their

children to school at Sacred Heart, and worship

with us. For more information, call the office

at 478-923-0124.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 85


SOUTHERN

LIGHTING

In 1986, contractor Bill Schwanebeck was

building homes in Warner Robins and purchasing

lights from Burgess Carpet and Lighting

Company. However, when

that company was sold and

moved to another location, he

saw a need in the community

for a new lighting store.

Starting his own lighting

store allowed him to continue

building custom houses and

recommending and supplying

the lighting needs for customers’

new homes. He saw it

as a great opportunity and

immediately went to work.

He, and Annelle Ray, the

lighting specialist at Burgess,

began combining ideas to

start a new residential lighting

store and started Southern

Interiors & Lighting, opening

in May 1987.

While the new company

basically began on a shoestring

as many do, there were

no computers to better track profit-and-loss,

inventory, etc. According to Bill’s wife, Gale,

“Everything was handwritten. Then, little by little,

as the technology era arrived, they invested

in computers and have replaced them as the

need changed. Our computer program has been

customized to our needs; and, all items are

scanned when received; and again, before they

are sold. We purchased a forklift years ago that

relieved us of manually loading and unloading

the products we sell.”

86 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


When the store first opened, Southern

Lighting sold light fixtures, furniture, and

framed pictures and mirrors. Today, it specializes

only in lighting fixtures and accessories for the

home. “When we opened, there was no delivery

van–builders were responsible to come by the

store and pick up the light fixtures they had purchased.

When the builders or electricians could

not make it to the store, Bill’s pick-up truck was

used for deliveries. The store now has two delivery

vans and delivers complete house orders of

light up to a fifty to sixty-mile radius,” she adds.

As the business grew, so did Southern

Lighting. During the past thirty years, since the

company’s birth, it has expanded its showroom

three times, and added a new warehouse for

storage of all the lights and fans. For many

years, it has furnished the lighting products to

St. Jude Homes being built in Warner Robins.

The company is also a member of the Robins

Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Perry

Chamber of Commerce, and the Home Builders

Association of Warner Robins. Southern

Lighting also believes in giving back to the community

that supports them. For a number of

years, it has held a Christmas luncheon feeding

up to 300 people including builders and others

in the building industry. Each year in January, it

sends its lighting specialists to Dallas, Texas to

attend the Lighting Show where all the new fixtures

and fans are displayed.

When Southern Lighting first opened, it had

three employees, which grew to eleven before

the downturn in the late 2008.

Today, there are 6 employees, with

4 in sales and 2 in the warehouse,

receiving and delivering light fixtures.

One employee has been with

the company for 30 years, one for

23 years, and another for 15.

Owners Gale and Bill believe it is

vital to give something back to the

community that has been so supportive

of their business through

the years. The owners are proud of

its philanthropy efforts by giving

back. They contribute to Habitat for

Humanity at Christmastime, and

support the efforts of Genesis

Houses for qualifying individuals.

Gale says “Southern Lighting showroom

has the largest selection of lighting fixtures

in Middle Georgia.”

Of course, word-of-mouth is the best marketing

tool for any business; but, Southern Lighting

backs up their efforts with newspaper, magazines

and television advertising. Customers have

come to rely on Southern Lighting, often coming

back to upgrade their lighting and homes.

“We are optimistic about our future and feel

that the customer service we offer, combined

with our reputation in the community, have positioned

us well for the future,” Gale and Bill agree.

Southern Lighting has been at the same location

for thirty-plus years at 2508 Moody Road in

Warner Robins and on the Internet at

www.southernlightingga.com.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 87


WELLSTON

DECORATING

“Home is where the heart is” and that is

exactly where Wellston Decorating began its 32

year-old story: in a home. Wellston Decorating,

named for Wellston Depot, was the brainchild

of Billie Carriker and Don Brooks. In 1986,

Billie and Don started their home decorating

business in Billie’s home on Becky Drive. Each

room in the Carriker home served as an area

for the business: bookkeeping in the living

room, the dining room served as the display

area, wall paper was checked in and stored

in the breakfast room and laundry. Don served

as the manager, Trent Carriker served as

assistant manager, Billie served as interior

designer, Ann Brooks served as bookkeeper and

Ken Brooks and Russ Carriker served as stock

boys. Even then, family was at the heart of

Wellston Decorating.

Later that same year, the business relocated

on Memorial Day to a building at 2510 Moody

Road. During this time, Wellston specialized in

Devoe Paint, Shaw Carpet, Sunwall Wallpaper

and Delmar Mini-blinds. New employees, Keith

Gibbs (paints) and Betty Farnan (designer)

joined the family business soon after the

business relocated. The business soon expanded

and after 7 years, the business relocated to the

old Ace Hardware building on Moody Road

where the business stands today. Billie’s parents

(Mop and Pop) traveled from North Carolina to

help remodel the building.

At this time Debra Butler joined the family as

an interior designer and the following

companies’ products soon made an appearance

in the store: Mohawk and engineered floors

such as Armstrong, Mannington and Tarkett.

Soon the floor styles changed to ceramic

floors and Shaw, Daltile and Enser products

were added to the growing inventory. At

one point, Wellston sold over two hundred

patterns of wallpaper but customers’ tastes soon

changed and Wellston discontinued selling

wallpaper. Painted walls are the trend today and

Wellston sells hundreds of paint colors to suit

everyone’s tastes.

Today Wellston employs two full-time

decorators: Tara Gilpin and Megan Crosier.

Debra Butler, who has been with the business for

88 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


twenty-five years, now specializes in window

treatments. Bookkeepers through the years have

included Sharyn Mays, Ellie Smith, Gina Wall

and Penny Hales is the present bookkeeper.

Mark Hales is the head of the warehouse.

Through the years Wellston served as a

gathering place in the morning for painters

and contractors before they headed to work

for the day. If you happened to stop by in

the morning, you could join painters and

contractors for a quick cup of coffee and

catch up on the business of building and

decorating homes and businesses. Many times

soup lunches and fish frys were held at the store

and painters and contractors would come back

for lunch!

In 2008, with the economic uncertainties,

Wellston Decorating experienced its challenges.

The dream Billie and Don envisioned struggled

to continue but with determination, faith, and

courage, the business persevered and is thriving

today. In 2013, Don and Ann Brooks retired and

Billie and Trent bought Wellston Decorating.

Today Trent Carriker is manager and Kenneth

Brooks serves as assistant manager. Billie drops

by on a regular basis to help out as needed

and visit with customers. Over the past thirty

years, Wellston has strived to live up to its

motto, “Home of Service”. Top-notch service

and quality products are still the hallmarks of

Wellston Decorating.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 89


AMERICAN

LEGION POST

172

American Legion Post 172 began November

19, 1943 when a group of veterans residing in

Warner Robins began the process of obtaining a

charter from the Legion’s national headquarters

in Indianapolis, Indiana. While awaiting word

from Indianapolis, the original organizers elected

their first Executive Board on January 24,

1944, and named the infant Post after Arthur

Leonard Johnson Jr., the first Warner Robins

man to lose his life during World War II.

In the years between 1944 and 1945, the

new Post made itself a part of the fabric of

Warner Robins by undertaking a combined

effort–along with the town and Robins Air

Field–to provide programs designed to help prevent

“juvenile delinquency” in the children of

Warner Robins whose parents and guardians

were working fulltime as part of the war efforts.

To that end, they created and formed clubs and

athletic organizations for the town’s teens to

enjoy when not in school. At least one of those

organizations still exists. Boy Scout Troop 120,

the Post’s first sponsored Scout Troop and Cub

Scout Pack, which post members officially

founded on February 23, 1944, is today the oldest

Boy Scout troop in Warner Robins.

After the end of World War II in 1945

through the onset of the Korean War in 1950,

Post 172 undertook several actions in support

of the community, its veterans, and their families.

They drove voters to the polls for various

local, state and national elections; continued to

support scouting; and bestowed Legion awards

upon deserving Warner Robins and Bonaire students.

Christmas gift distributions to patients at

Robins Field Hospital as well as to the children

of low income families were performed annually

during this time.

Other activities and programs were also

established as the Post continued to support the

citizens, especially the youth, of Warner

Robins–from organization of an American

Legion junior baseball team in 1946 to teaming

up with local elementary schools’ PTAs to secure

a hot lunch program for students. Academic and

athletic awards and scholarships also became a

part of the growing list of efforts by the Post and

included active participation in the American

Legions Boys State program in early 1948.

Coordinating with the Lions Club, Post 172

co-sponsored the “School Boy Patrol” by donating

helmets, raincoats, belts, and whistles. Until the

program ended in 1958, boys were sent to School

Boy Patrol Camp to help insure the safety of

Warner Robins students. Aid in voter registrations,

Armistice and Memorial Day services, and

support of veteran affairs on the state and national

levels, as well as aid to needy children and families,

were also supplied by the Post.

When a violent tornado ripped through

Warner Robins on April 30, 1953 claiming the

lives of nineteen and injuring hundreds, the

Post home was severely damaged along with

many other structures in the storm’s 300-yardwide,

two-mile-long path. Many Post 172 members

donned their Legion caps and joined with

local police to rescue and aid tornado victims

until the National Guard and other state and

county agencies arrived to help.

The American Legion Department of Georgia

also requested that all Legion Posts in the area

provide support to recovery efforts for victims of

the tornado as well. Though a victim itself, Post

172 threw its full support into the task before

tending to its own rebuilding efforts. The Post

provided financial aid and also collected and

distributed food, clothing, cooking equipment

and utensils through its Ladies Auxiliary whose

members manned various distribution points

throughout the city.

Between 1954 and 1961, Post 172 maintained

its efforts as a member of the Warner

Robins’ community, while initiating new programs

and filling new needs. Increased aid to the

90 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Dublin VA Hospital was seen, and the Post 172

Honor Guard was formed in 1954 to assist the

Air Force base in meeting the burgeoning need

for firing squads for funerals and ceremonies.

In addition to the established Legion awards

and scholarships for local athletic and educational

communities, the Post also participated in

a special polio drive in 1954, and worked with

other civic organizations in support of the

March of Dimes, the Community Chest, Red

Cross, cerebral palsy efforts as well as to dozens

of local families in need.

In 1958 and 1959, Post 172 coordinated with

local radio station WRPB by broadcasting weekly,

half-hour shows, which responded to phone-in

questions concerning local veterans and other

services of interest to veterans and the local community.

A follow-up show was aired in March of

1959 recognizing the Legion’s fortieth birthday.

With the growth of both Warner Robins and

Robins Air Force Base in the 1960s, Post 172

also grew and has continued to support both the

city and the base throughout the years. A new

and larger facility was built in 1994, allowing

the Post to meet the growing needs and activities

of the community. The Post also added to its

veteran family, giving rise to the Ladies

Auxiliary, Unit 172, the Sons of the American

Legion, Squadron 172, and the Legion Riders.

In addition to the support of local veterans,

Post activities today also includes support of the

Dublin VA Hospital and a Veteran’s Home in

Macon. An active Post Honor Guard still provides

military honors for funerals of veterans when

requested, flag ceremonies that include the raising,

retiring and proper disposal of the American

flag, and military honors and recognition performances

at Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day

ceremonies sponsored by the city. Each Memorial

Day, the Post pays homage by placing 1,500 flags

on the graves of local veterans recognizing their

contributions to our nation, state and city.

Veterans, both retired and active duty, also

receive recognition annually. In addition to providing

complimentary meals four times per year

to local veterans, the Post also blesses active

duty Air Force personnel with gift certificates

and other support as deemed appropriate during

the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

The Ladies Auxiliary assists the Post and the

community by collecting items needed by veterans

at the Dublin VA Hospital and then visits the

hospital and it patients to distribute the items.

Support of a wide variety of Posts activities also

characterizes the Auxiliary’s mission for the

community as a whole.

The Sons of the American Legion is another

integral part of the greater Post 172 family.

Members regularly assist and participate in all

Legion activities, especially fundraising and participation

in the Honor Guard and American

Legion National Programs.

The American Legion Riders are the latest addition

to the Post 172 family and provide a visible

and honorable service to the Post’s growing range of

veteran activities and ceremonies. They frequently

join in motorcycle events–along with other veteran

rider’s groups such as Patriot Guards–to not only

escort fallen military members, but also ride hundreds

of miles each year to support and protect the

families of our fallen heroes.

American Legion Post 172 welcomes all eligible

veterans, retired military personnel,

National Guard and reserve personnel as well as

current active duty members to become members

of its family. The Post is located at 1345

Radio Loop Road in Warner Robins, Georgia

31088. The mailing address is P.O. Box 484,

Warner Robins, Georgia 31099 and the phone

number is 478-923-9238. You may contact the

Post online by emailing alpost172@gmail.com

or visiting www.alpost172ga.org.

Written by Skip Schwanfelder and

Dave Winward

Post 172

May 21, 2018

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 91


FAMILY DENTAL

ASSOCIATES

The original offices of Family Dental

Associates in Warner Robins.

Family Dental Associates is more than words

emblazoned on the sign at 328 Margie Drive in

Warner Robins. It is the epitome of this

sixty-five-year-old dental practice where family

treats family.

“We strive to treat all of our patients like

family,” says Dr. J. Alex Bell, Jr., the second of

the now three-generation dental practice.

“Treating others the way we want to be treated

drives everything we do and has since my

father founded the practice in 1954.”

Fresh out of Emory University’s School of

Dentistry, Jack Alex Bell, Sr. was just the third

dentist to hang out his shingle in Warner

Robins. A native of Mariana, Florida, and a

former flight engineer who served in the U.S.

Navy during World War II, he moved here with

his wife, Lala Maxine. They both became

involved in the community, while he became a

student of its history as well.

“Dad loved this community and was

fascinated with how quickly it grew,” Bell, Jr.

said, adding that his father enjoyed doing

research, interviewing people and collecting

photographs and historic documents on the

area. “He loved giving presentations to local

clubs and organizations and was pleased to

donate much of his collection to the city for its

archives.”

But, Bell, Sr. was more than a respected

dentist and local history buff. He was also an

active community leader and, as such, became

a part of the very history he eagerly studied.His

own annals include being a lifetime member of

the Noon Optimist Club, a Warner Robins

Civitan Club “Citizen of the Year,” and

president of the local chamber when its first

office building was constructed. He was a

member of the boards of Houston County’s first

technical school and United Givers Fund, and

was president of the Warner Robins

Touchdown Club. He served as the Exalted

Ruler of the local Elks Lodge and oversaw the

construction of its first lodge, and was a

member of the Tyrian Lodge No. 111 Free and

Accepted Masons. He was also active in the

Houston County Carving Club and First United

Methodist Church and was an accomplished

aerobatic pilot coached by Georgia Aviation

Hall of Famer Gordon Bella.

Although he retired in 1985, he remained

independent and active well into his nineties,

continuing to serve the community by

volunteering at the Warner Robins Methodist

Food Pantry. He found much joy in giving

handmade wooden cars and bible verses to

hundreds of children who visited the pantry. He

passed away in 2015.

92 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Though his father never pressured him, Dr.

J. Alex Bell, Jr., says he always knew growing

up that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps.

And, following his graduation from the Medical

College of Georgia’s School of Dentistry in

1982, that’s exactly what he did.

“I saw how much dad always enjoyed being

a dentist—it’s a profession in which you get to

help people and work with your hands; it’s

medicine, engineering, science, art, creativity

and technicality, all rolled into one,” he said.

“But, the people are by far the best. I’m always

happy getting to know patients and their

families and am honored to serve them.”

In addition to a passion for dentistry,

people and family, Bell, Jr. also inherited his

dad’s love for aviation and actually soloed his

first plane when he was just fifteen years old.

He recently added “helicopter pilot” to his

aviation resume; proof, he says, that you can

“teach an old dog new tricks!”

And, like his father, Bell, Jr., also has a son

who followed in his footsteps.

Dr. Jack Alex Bell, III, joined Family Dental

Associates in 2013, after graduating from the

Medical College of Georgia’s School of Dentistry

and completing a one-year residency. Also a parttime

faculty member at Georgia Regents

University’s College of Dental Medicine, he

specializes in dental surgery, dental implant

placement, IV conscious sedation, advanced

dental prosthetics, treatment management in

medically compromised patients. He also

introduced Family Dental Associates to 3D

dentistry as well as the Solea Dental Laser—a

soft and osseous tissue laser which allows a

virtually noiseless and anesthesia-free experience

for the vast majority of dental procedures.

“Along with our other talented dentists—

Doctors Ken Colson and Brandon Burleigh—

Jack has brought some remarkable skills, new

services and techniques to our practice,” said

Bell, Jr. “It is incredible the doors that new

technology has opened. We can now use a 3D

digital scanner to take an impression and use

that to customize crowns, dentures, partials

and implants right here in our in-house lab.”

Speaking of in-house labs, Family Dental

Associates’ Excel Dental Lab is one of only 330

accredited labs in the United States.

Additionally, the practice is one of only three in

Georgia utilizing Solea Laser technology.

“We definitely have some of the most

advanced hardware available in dentistry today,

but our most precious and valuable asset is and

always will be our software—our people,” said

Bell, Jr., “They—and our wonderful patients—

are the ones that make us who we are.”

For more information on Family Dental

Associates, please visit www.dralexbell.com.

Three generations of the Bell family

have guided Family Dental Associates

for the last sixty-five years (from left

to right): Dr. Jack Alex Bell, Sr., Dr.

Jack Alex Bell, III, and Dr. J. Alex

Bell, Jr.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 93


GEORGIA

MILITARY

COLLEGE

Georgia Military College opened at Robins

Air Force Base in 1989. In 2003, the Warner

Robins Campus was established with Elliott Hall

and then expanded in 2005. Boylan Hall opened

in 2011, and the students keep coming.

During the early years on Robins AFB, under

the leadership of Director COL John Elliott, GMC

only offered classes for a few dozen active duty

military and civil service employees. As course

and degree offerings expanded, students

responded; by the early 2000s, GMC needed a

building to call its own. Today, GMC’s Warner

Robins Campus is located off of North Davis Drive

at 801 Duke Avenue. The campus has nearly

fourteen hundred students and boasts one of the

largest dual enrollment programs in the state.

GMC-WR continues to offer convenient schedules

for traditional and non-traditional students with

day, evening, weekend and online classes. Class

sizes remain small for better instruction and

tuition still includes the use of textbooks.

On campus, Boylan Hall serves as a starting

point for new students with Admissions,

Financial Aid, and the Bookstore. Elliott Hall,

primarily an academic building, includes the

Advising and Testing Center, Registrar, Library,

tutoring, classrooms and labs. GMC still offers

services and classes on Robins AFB.

94 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


“When I started looking for a college, I

wanted something that would be affordable

and close to home, and my best friend

recommended GMC. When I started

GMC, I was really excited about the small

class size, and how you could really

develop a relationship with your

instructors, and I didn’t miss out on the

college experience. I was able to be as

involved as I wanted to be. “

- Alexandria Sampson, GMC graduate

and registered nurse:

“I didn’t know what to expect when I

first started college. I was in my late forties,

and I had not been to school in a long time.

I was anxious about starting the process, but

when I went to the school to inquire about

attending at Georgia Military College,

everybody was so nice. Every instructor,

and every professor I had was understanding

and accommodating of the non-traditional

student. It was an incredible experience.”

- Randy Toms, GMC graduate and

mayor of Warner Robins:

“I found out about Georgia Military College through my old high school. I learned that GMC

was regionally accredited, which means that their credits would transfer to any institution I

might consider next. Staying local was important and helped me build a transfer GPA. This

campus is community based. You meet so many people out in the community. We often work

with community events and leaders. When I was in high school, my grades were decent; but

when I came to Georgia Military College, the professors really worked with me one on one, and

I felt like a student rather than a number. It’s just a community based school. At GMC, you feel

like you really matter.”

- Will Cooper, GMC Graduate and Georgia College & State University student

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 95


CENTRAL

GEORGIA

PERIODONTICS

AND DENTAL

IMPLANTS

Left: Dr. Russell G. Eyman.

Right: Dr. Vinamra Bhasin

Warner Robins’ Russell G. Eyman has

thoroughly enjoyed the best of two professional

careers. After graduating from Emory

University’s School of Dentistry in 1969, he has

been on the fast track in periodontics and

emerging dental technology including implants.

In addition, he has served as a commissioned

officer in the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

Before he began private practice, he joined the

Air Force as a captain. Later, as a major in 1976,

he completed his residency in periodontics at

Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, and was

transferred to Robins AFB in Warner Robins.

With the assistance of the Warner Robins

Chamber of Commerce, the Houston County

Dental Society, U. S. Senator Sam Nunn, Eyman,

who had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel,

received permission to begin treating civilian

patients in Macon, Georgia, in 1978. A year

later, he resigned his regular commission and

joined the USAF Reserve and began a fulltime

practice in Macon. The Warner Robins office,

albeit small in size, opened in 1981.

“We were fortunate because we had a good

staff and worked well together,” he said

reminiscing about the early days. He recalls that

hygienists Jill Luzzi (who joined the practice in

1978), Jane Toms (1984), Dawn Tilley (1989),

and Susan Joiner (1993) worked in less than 900

square-feet of space, sandwiched between two

Warner Robins landmarks – Whiting’s Gift Shop

and Freeman’s Children’s Shop. Unbelievably, the

five managed to stay out of the others’ way, and

are still with Central Georgia Periodontics and

Dental Implants today.

Even in small quarters, there were four

treatment rooms and a supply and sterilization

room. The waiting room, about 10-by-12 feet, had

a picture window facing Watson Boulevard; and a

“shotgun hall” led to other rooms. The business

office, for instance, had a built-in counter/desk

facing the waiting room and one chair. Treatment

rooms were lined on the right side of the hall.

Dr. Eyman laughs as he talks about the

treatment rooms because the dental chairs had

to be in the upright position for patients to enter

and exit. His office was the top of a copy

machine with no desk or chair. When Eyman

and his team vacated the Watson Blvd location

the owner decided to remodel. When the roof

was removed the walls fell. This confirmed the

teams’ long-held suspicion that “the termites

holding hands were holding the walls together.”

The 1980s brought welcome changes. The

office grew from a two-day work week to three;

and eventually, four. Especially relevant was 1987

when Dr. Eyman became the Dental Advisor to

the USAF Reserve Surgeon General’s office and

promoted to the grade of colonel. That same year

dental implants were introduced into Eyman’s

practice (the technology was not widely used at

that time). Because of the lack of educational

96 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


opportunities into implant procedures in the

early days, Eyman’s team organized, promoted,

and sponsored an annual dental implant seminar

for area dentists and their staffs.

In 1989, Central Georgia Periodontics and

Dental Implants moved into its current office on

Carl Vinson Highway; and as the millennium

approached, it grew and matured. It underwent

extensive remodeling in 2002. Central Georgia

Periodontics became one of the busiest and most

respected periodontal and implant practices in the

state. Dr. Eyman attributes the success and growth

to the team of hygienists who contributed so

much from the early days, on. “They’re all good,

loyal, dedicated and knowledgeable about the

now-accepted technology of implants,” he adds.

In 2007, the practice experienced a truly

transformational event when Dr. Vinamra

Bhasin, B.D.S., D.M.D., M.H.S. joined the

practice. As Dr. Eyman has wryly observed, “He

soaked up everything I could teach him in three

years and took off from there. He is truly one of

the most gifted surgeons I’ve seen with fifty

years’ experience in military and civilian settings.

That says a lot.”

In 2010, a major modification of the building

doubled office space and completely changed the

look of the building. New members joined the

team, including Anita Kimberly, Marsha Hall and

April Wimberly in reception; Loretta Pitts,

surgical assistant; Debbie Harkins, Sandra Giles,

and Kelli McCard, hygienists; and Kathryn

Sremaniak, hygienist/surgical assistant; and Nikki

Wilke, assistant.

Dr. Bhasin continually imports new

technology; and he and Dr. Eyman acquired the

first in-office CT scanner in middle Georgia. The

practice is also the only dental office in Mid-

Georgia with a Millennium Dental Laser. Dr.

Bhasin also directed the purchase of X-NAV which

permits “real-time” CT-guided implant placement.

There are fewer than sixty of these in the world.

Dr. Bhasin has also pursued week-long training in

Budapest and Lisbon.

The practice has long, deep roots that is

focused on the relentless pursuit of the latest and

best technology and skills to support the needs

of the Warner Robins community and greater

middle Georgia area.

Above: Central Georgia Periodontics

and Dental Implants is located at 225

Carl Vinson Parkway.

Below: The doctors and staff of

Central Georgia Periodontics and

Dental Implants.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 97


JIMMY SPINKS,

STATE FARM

AGENT

For some, “if these walls could talk” is

just a catchphrase. But, in the case of Jimmy

Spinks, the walls of his State Farm office

located at 1410 Russell Parkway tell a most

captivating story.

From the moment one crosses the agency

threshold, a vast collection of plaques, certificates,

photos and mementos chronicle Spinks’

life and career. From top agent awards spanning

a stellar four-and-a-half decade career with

State Farm to plaques honoring his service to

the community as an active member and leader

of organizations such as the Warner Robins

Chamber of Commerce, the Warner Robins

Noon Optimist Club and local Jaycees as well

as Centerville United Methodist Church, just to

name a few.

Interspersed throughout is a bounty of

framed photographs of friends, co-workers and

family. Photos of Patsy, his wife of more than

fifty years who he met while attending Warner

Robins High School and married not long after

graduating; photos of their three boys—Brad,

Greg and Dean—two of who have followed his

footsteps into the insurance field and one who

serves in an executive leadership role for

Facebook’s Global Culinary operations.

And then there are the grandkids, six in

all—two sets of twins, Carson and Carter and

Katie and Kyle, and the oldest of the brood,

Conner and Clayton, the latter who has also

chosen insurance as a career after learning the

ropes from his grandfather and father. Like his

own father, Brad, Clayton currently serves

as a claims handler for another major

insurance provider.

Spinks’ desk and bookshelves also don keepsakes

that tell of his passions and purpose—a

replica of a motorcycle just like the one he

enjoyed riding across country with his brotherin-law

and other biking pals in his younger

years; a photo of his sons’ first car on which

they worked on together; a photo card of

Barney and the gang from the Andy Griffith

show, a show that Spinks still watches every

day to wind down. He laughs as he proceeds to

tell about the silly antics Barney was up to in

the last episode.

There is even a framed photo of Spinks sitting

in his very first office, a space he rented for

$50 a month. His first calculator, a Texas

Instruments’ Data Math, which his mother gave

him when he opened that first office, holds its

own next to other memorabilia.

Born in Macon, GA the same year the town

of Wellston was renamed Warner Robins,

Spinks moved to Warner Robins with his family

in 1947 when just three years old. He went to

98 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


school here, married his high school sweet

heart and, although he continued his education

at Georgia Southwestern and the University of

Georgia, he never ventured far from home.

Spinks credits his college roommates who were

all going to school for careers in insurance for

igniting his own interest in the field, though he

didn’t make an official move until 1973.

“For my first 17 years out of college, I

worked in and managed a retail clothing business,

but when the opportunity to become a

State Farm agent came about in September

1973, I was ready,” Spinks said, crediting his

brother-in-law and friend for making the State

Farm introduction. “I located my office on what

was then known as Watson Road, now Russell

Parkway and have remained within a few

blocks of my original location since.”

One of the very first businesses to locate on

Russell, Spinks says he often got asked why he

was setting up on an old county road. What

they didn’t know, he said, was that he had sat in

on a briefing prepared by UGA for the chamber

and city that suggested the city build up a

direct connector from the interstate to the base.

Russell Parkway was that connection and

Spinks was happy to become one of the first

businesses to endorse it as such.

His first office was a rented space about the

size of his personal office in his current State

Farm building. He bought an old military-style

metal desk and a filing cabinet from a traveling

used furniture salesman and set up shop and

watched as, within five years, other businesses

and offices began to spring up on the new baseinterstate

connector.

His own business growing, Spinks soon began

looking for his own property and he found it in a

former nursery, also on Russell. He worked out of

a temporary mobile home office located on the

property for a couple of years before teaming up

with a local pharmacist to build his first office

complex. Business still booming, he continued to

add on and eventually purchased a former doctor’s

office that he redesigned himself and has

remained his office since.

Today, Spinks has six others working alongside

him, five other agents as well and a receptionist

who is also working on her license.

Together, they represent State Farm and the

many clients they serve well.

For more, call the office at 478-923-5579 or

visit online at www.jimmyspinks.com.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 99


CLEAN

CONTROL

CORPORATION

Above: Steve Davison in Clean

Control Corporation’s lab.

Below: Clean Corporation is located

at 1040 Booth Road in Warner

Robins, Georgia.

Steve Davison worked for Southern

Railway after high school; and wanting to

do something different in 1980, started

Mobile Wash of America, a successful

government janitorial contractor focusing

on cleaning. The need for superior cleaning

products and escalating chemical

costs prompted him to develop technologically-advanced,

cost-effective cleaning

solutions. He wanted to develop fewer

products that did the work of the many

different ones he carried with him on various

jobs. At his encouragement, he and Cory

Hammock, a friend and chemist, set out to

achieve that goal. “It was more of a convenience

for me to reduce the amount of cleaners I carried

on every job than it was a pure cost-containment

effort,” says Steve. “I was trying to

simplify the job, thinking there must be a better

way.” The two set out to find the solution for

which they were searching and mastered it in a

most unbelievable way while developing other

super concentrated cleaning products, too.

Their focus was to develop a highly effective

product that was concentrated and would meet

the challenges in nursing homes and healthcare

facilities. In 1980, there were few commercial

products available that could rid facilities of odors

from bed pans, soiled linen and night gowns.

Colostomy bag odors and the “cancer smell” of

patient rooms were an entire category unto themselves.

Steve and Cory’s extensive research on specific

human biological odors and the need to disinfect

and make specific areas welcoming to

patients, staff, and visitors alike eventually led to

the “Tub Trials,” as they refer to it. To get the

project underway, they utilized available raw

materials and mixed the first batch of OdoBan®

in Steve’s own bathtub. This led to many products

after initially being tested on baby diapers.

Steve realized that he could not continue his

cleaning business, and develop and market

OdoBan, so he sold the contract cleaning business

and started Clean Control in 1990 to

devote time to developing products that were

vastly needed in patient care facilities. After several

years of talking with Sam’s Club corporate,

they finally agreed to carry OdoBan® as a trial

in 1991 at the Macon, Georgia’s Sam’s Club. Just

four years later, the OdoBan® product was carried

nationwide in Sam’s Club, which enabled

Clean Control to expand with additional products

and line extensions. Clean Control has

been able to expand and grow the company

because of the willingness of Sam’s/Walmart to

take a chance on a small, local manufacturer

more than twenty-seven years ago.

Steve says, “Opportunities like this one only

happen in America!” Starting as a small business,

his basic philosophy has been to go one

step further. “We didn’t just make a deodorizer;

we developed an odor eliminator and

disinfectant that cleans. We didn’t just make

something to mop up the grease; we developed

bacterial solutions that would eliminate grease–

the basis for our bacterial line.”

Today, the OdoBan® brand of products is

recognized worldwide as a leading solution for

odor elimination and disinfecting. Clean

Control’s customer base has grown to serve various

market segments including household

consumer, as well as wholesale, industrial, commercial,

and institutional customers around the

globe. A line of hunting products was launched

about twenty-two years ago called OdoBan

100 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Outdoors. Steve said the name did not ‘grab

you’ so we re-branded them as Lethal® Hunting

Products and they are now the premier line of

scent eliminating hunting products.

Steve, the father of five, is adamant about

success. “I start my day at 4:30 a.m. and after

saying my prayers and thanking God for my

success, I’m ready to tackle the new opportunities

and challenges. I tell people all the time,

that if I can do this, so can they. Don’t let

anybody take your dreams from you. Anything

is possible.”

Below: Steve Davison proudly displays

OdoBan at Sam’s Club. OdoBan is

sold at Home Depot, Walmart, and

many other retail locations.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 101


GOLDEN KEY

REALTY

Above: Gwen Giles (left) and Jean

Chapman (right).

Below: (Fromt left to right) Lauri

Gassman, Jean Chapman, Jan

Labadie, and Gwen Giles.

Gwen Giles sits in the conference room of the

Golden Key Realty office located on South

Houston Lake Road in Warner Robins. There

isn’t a meeting going on this morning; just

a quick sit-down with a writer interested in

the real estate company that has become

a household name during its forty years

of existence.

Right away, it becomes apparent that sitting

in one place for too long is out of the ordinary

for this high-spirited dynamo blessed with

boundless energy and a spirit to help people.

Still, she proves a most gracious and humble

host with story after story that makes swift work

of explaining the success of Warner Robins’ first

woman-owned real estate company.

First and foremost, she credits God, who

planted in her a “mind for math” and, eventually,

real estate. Secondly, she points to having a likeminded

co-founder as well as a multi-talented

team who live and work by the Golden Rule, the

company’s core philosophy.

“We have always treated each other, and

most importantly, our clients, the way we want

to be treated—with great respect, care and

consideration,” Giles said.

Although owning a business was never really

on her radar, she and longtime co-worker and

fellow Realtor Jean Coleman longed for the

opportunity “to do business our way” and, in

1979, opened Golden Key with just four agents

and a receptionist in a small office at the end of

Hospital Drive.

“Jean and I had different strengths, but were

cut from the same cloth with the same morals,

principles and goals,” said Giles, her tone

turning nostalgic as she speaks of her business

partner who passed away in 2009. “An agent

could come to each of us and we always gave

them the same answer. We were always in sync.

She was my soul sister and the best business

partner I could’ve hoped for.”

From the start, Golden Key defied odds and

surpassed expectations. Even with staggering

interest rates and a CPA’s warning that it could

be up to two years before the business would

become profitable, Golden Key has operated in

the black from month one. They have survived

challenging economic times, financial setbacks,

an office fire, embezzlement and forgery, and,

yet, have never closed their doors or borrowed a

single dime. Nor have they abandoned the

Golden Rule, which Giles believes is the main

reason the company’s client roster is filled with

repeat clients and personal referrals.

It’s also the reason the company is one of the

county’s most successful real estate companies

with 24 licensed agents and 10 administrative

personnel. It’s why customers have asked them

to manage more than 350 rental properties and

why, as a company, they closed a recordbreaking

$52.75 million in 2017 and were on

course to shatter records in 2018 as well with

$43.5 million already closed by the end of July.

As growth demanded, Golden Key’s offices

moved several times over the years, ultimately

102 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


landing at 526 South Houston Lake Road in 2012

after an office fire in the space they were renting

left them without a home. They temporarily

moved in with another real estate company,

Freedom Realty, while work started on the

unfinished shell that was to be their future home.

“It was basically four exterior walls with dirt

floors, and yet, I was able to design the interior

just as I wanted it and two builders worked

together to have it move-in ready in just four

months,” Giles said. “It was so unbelievably fast,

I knew it was all God!”

As for the future, Giles has no plans to retire

just yet. She says her business is her testimony

and she plans to keep doing what she’s doing

“until God tells me I’m done.”

And, when that day comes, she says she will

joyfully leave the business in the capable hands of

her daughter-in-law, Tammy Giles. An Associate

Broker, Realtor, and Real Estate Negotiation

Expert, Tammy has worked alongside her

mentor/mother-in-law for three decades. Giles’

grandson, Coy, became a Realtor with the

company after graduating college in 2016.

“Tammy was my assistant before she was my

daughter-in-law and, like Jean, we have always

been in sync,” said Giles, who celebrated fifty

years of marriage with husband Larry Giles in

September 2017. Gwen and Larry have two

sons—Mark, who lives in Atlanta with his wife,

Jeanne; and Michael, who lives in Warner

Robins with wife Tammy. Michael and Tammy

have three sons—Coy, Grayson and Riley.

“Coy says real estate is in his DNA and he’s

not far off,” Giles continued, laughing as she

confesses to whispering that he “would one day

become a real estate agent with grandmama”

into his ear throughout his early years.

“I guess I pre-programmed him. I just wish I

had done it with my other two grandkids,” she

said, laughing heartily, before turning the

conversation in a more reflective direction.

“Looking back, I can clearly see God’s hand

leading, guiding, and occasionally pushing us

along this marvelous journey. My prayer now is

that all who associate with Golden Key—today

or in the future—recognize and give thanks for

all that God has created and allows us to be a

part of. Thank you Warner Robins and Houston

County for allowing us to be of service and for

being a part of our continuing story. To God be

the glory!”

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 103


FLINT

ENERGIES


Above: The first Flint Electric

Membership Corporation office in

Warner Robins opened in 1949 on

Watson Boulevard.

Below: In 1952, co-op leaders (from

left) Barney McDaniel, Thurman

Whatley, Nash Murph, Royce Pratt,

M. S. Vinson, John Polhill, Deke

Giles, Sam Tankersley, and Floyd

Tabor, watched as Warner Robins

mayor C. B. “Boss” Watson

ceremonially flipped the switch to

illuminate the town’s major

thoroughfare, Watson Boulevard.

Incorporated in 1937, Flint Energies is a notfor-profit,

member-owned electric cooperative

that provides energy services to residential,

commercial, industrial and agricultural

members in parts of 17 middle Georgia

counties. The cooperative serves more than

91,000 meters, making it the 38th largest of the

nation’s nearly 1,000 rural electric cooperatives.

In the 1930s, only one in 10 of the nation’s

farm families had electricity. Only farms running

alongside the wires carrying electricity from city

to city had the possibility of a “hook up.” Dim

oil lamps provided the only indoor light, there

was no running water and backbreaking chores

were accomplished solely by manual labor.

Emory Parr was tired of raising chickens in the

dark. The owner of Crowell Poultry Farm knew

many of his neighbors shared his frustration. In

1935 he decided it was time to act.

Parr and neighbor, Howard Neisler, first

investigated erecting a private generating plant

and transmission line to serve 17 consumers

along a four-mile stretch of the Old Federal Wire

Road, but the $7,000 pricetag was unaffordable.

Undaunted, Parr next approached existing

utility companies about providing power, but

was turned down. Investor-owned and municipal

electric utilities were reluctant to serve rural areas

because it wasn’t financially feasible to extend

lines to people outside the city limits.

Parr eventually learned that farmers in

communities all over Georgia were gearing up to

build power lines by forming electric

cooperatives – utilities owned and governed by

the rural residents using the electricity rather

than profit-motivated investors.

On March 5, 1937, a community meeting

was held in Crowell to garner support for a new

electric cooperative. With their neighbors’

encouragement, Parr, Neisler, Leonard Cooper,

Floyd Jarrell and George Young attached their

names to an application for a charter to

incorporate a rural electric cooperative. Those at

the meeting voted to call it Taylor County

Electric Membership Corporation (EMC). About

a month later, on April 23, the charter was

granted and the co-op was officially in business.

The five charter members became the first board

of directors and elected Parr as president, Neisler as

vice president and Cooper as secretary-treasurer.

They immediately applied for and received Rural

Electrification Administration (REA) funds to build

104 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


the first fifty miles of lines to bring power to the

people of northern Taylor County.

As farms became energized, word spread about

how electricity improved farmers’ lives and work.

Interest in rural electrification spread rapidly

throughout middle Georgia, and applications from

neighboring counties came flooding into the

Taylor EMC office. In August 1938, the co-op

received a REA loan for $419,000 to construct

an additional 495 miles of line in Macon,

Peach, Houston, Crawford, Talbot, Marion,

Chattahoochee and Taylor counties. With the loan,

Taylor EMC became the second largest cooperative

in Georgia by the close of 1939.

At this rate of growth, it didn’t take long for

Taylor EMC to be an inadequate description of the

co-op’s service area and membership. During the

annual meeting in January 1941, members voted

to change the cooperative’s name to Flint Electric

Membership Corporation, a title derived from the

river flowing through much of the service area.

While most rural electrification efforts around

the nation came to a halt as manpower and

materials were redirected to the World War II

effort, Flint EMC’s system expanded significantly.

Much of the growth sprouted from tiny Wellston,

a train whistle stop in northern Houston County

that consisted of only six houses and a

combination service station/general store.

A small airfield near the community was chosen

as the site for a major military installation, the

Wellston Air Depot at Robins Field (later Robins

Air Force Base). Boarding houses, cafes, store and

gas stations sprang up to serve thousands of

construction workers, followed by a wave of

military personnel, who converged on the area.

The demand for electricity in Wellston

increased right along with the population. An

investor-owned utility selected to furnish power

to the airfield passed on the chance to build

distribution lines to provide electricity to the

homes and businesses in the fast-growing

community. The investors saw the venture as

unprofitable since the base would likely close

after the war and residents would move on.

Flint EMC, which had built lines in 1939 to

serve the handful of residents in the community,

answered the call for help. The co-op agreed to

bring power to Wellston’s swelling population.

In early September 1942, Flint EMC employees

began expanding the co-op’s electricity

distribution to supply power to five hundred

houses for defense workers.

Almost overnight, Wellston, renamed Warner

Robins in 1943, went from a six-house village to

being Georgia’s sixth largest city. The investorowned

utility’s projection that Robins Air Force

Base would close after the war proved wrong.

Warner Robins—still powered by Flint EMC

doing business as Flint Energies these days—

remains a thriving city with an economy that has

diversified well beyond its military beginnings.

For several decades, it was the largest city in the

U.S. served by an electric cooperative.

After more than eighty years, Flint Energies

continues its efforts in community service and

economic development, because vibrant communities

mean better quality of life for co-op members.

The original founders have all passed on, but

their legacy endures. The lines they helped build

still bind together our communities. The cooperative

business they founded remains committed to

serving the best interests of its members in the

delivery of safe, reliable, affordable electricity.

~Contains excerpts from The Lines That Bind.


Above: In 1953, dedicated Flint

EMC employees restored power to

thousands in less than two days

after a devastating F4 tornado

ripped through Warner Robins,

causing 19 fatalities, 350 injuries

and $10 million in damage that left

1,000 homeless.

Below: Scores of Warner Robins

children have learned to play baseball

and learned life lessons on Flint Field.

Among the first was former Georgia

Govenor Sonny Perdue (front row,

fourth from left), who said, “Playing

Little League baseball is one of my

fondest memories as a child. I

learned fundamentals of the game

such as teamwork, sacrifice and

determination that I have taken with

me throughout life.”

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 105


BUZZELL

PLUMBING,

HEATING AND

AIR

CONDITIONING

This is a sample caption.

With experience under his belt and a desire

to own his own business, Warner Robins

resident Sam Buzzell founded Buzzell

Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning

(HVAC) in 1974 and set up shop in a small

store-front on First Street in his hometown.

While the company is still family-owned and

operated, it has long outgrown that first storefront

and is today a multi-million dollar fullservice

plumbing and HVAC company with

multiple showrooms, including one in its new

Warner Robins headquarters building and

another in neighboring Macon.

Young Bob, Sam’s son, grew up in the

business and shares his father’s vision for the

company. In 2001, he officially joined his father

as co-owner, and has since taken over full

ownership and operation of the company. Sam

still has his fingers in the business, though, and

works as a mentor and consultant to his son and

employees. He is always available to help in the

areas where he has expertise.

While the early company was built on HVAC

and plumbing for the homeowner only, today

Buzzell takes pride in offering both residential

and commercial customers affordable pricing as

well as quality work conducted by reliable

employees and vendors. In addition to fullservice

heating, air and plumbing, the company

now also offers specialized products such as

indoor quality air control and water filtration

systems as well. They provide services for both

existing structures and new construction for

home owners, home builders and commercial

customers alike.

Offering a wide variety of services and

products is what enables us to meet the needs of

all of our customers, regardless of the size of the

job,” says Bob. “Our company vision is to

provide reliable and custom service to all, while

balancing price, efficiency, and lifespan to give

each of our clients the very best value in the

timeliest manner.”

Indeed, it doesn’t matter the plumbing or

HVAC need. If a customer needs new

installation, system upgrade, regular

maintenance or repair, the team of qualified

technicians deliver sustainable, energy efficient

and cost-effective solutions that improve

everyday life as well as to offer mechanical

services to the community with cost-effective

products that utilize renewable energy.

“We recognize the impact of energy efficient,

reliable and effective temperature control on

a homeowner’s budget or company’s bottom

line. It’s important to the customer and it’s

important to us,” Bob said, adding that the

company has an on-call team available 24/7 to

handle emergencies.

“We also understand that when a customer

has a problem with the heating system, air

conditioner, or any type of plumbing, they need

it solved ‘now.’ There’s nothing worse than

having the furnace inoperable on the coldest

day of the year; or the air conditioner on the

blink on the hottest of days,” he said.

Just as it does for homeowners and

homebuilders, Buzzell provides customized

solutions in plumbing, heating and air services

to companies and organizations of all sizes

throughout the mid-state, from locally owned

106 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


usinesses to large corporate entities, whether

new construction or existing structure. The

company’s longevity in the market ensures all

its customers customized solutions that rely

on experience.

Both commercial and residential clients can

also trust Buzzell to always offer customized

recommendations and innovative products with

meticulous workmanship as they specialize in

industry leading brands such as Carrier Rinnai

and Moen.

Need financing? Through its relationship with

Wells Fargo Financial National Bank and as a

participating Carrier dealer, Buzzell is able to

offer a variety of flexible options for financing

new Carrier products or systems. With approved

credit through Wells Fargo, customers can enjoy

convenient monthly payments, competitive

interest rates and flexible financing terms.

As for future, Buzzell Plumbing, Heating and

Air is poised and ready to continue serving

Middle Georgia with the same family values and

exceptional service for which it has become

known over the past forty-five years.

What’s more, both Bob and Sam say they

intend to keep the business in the family for

generations to come, with Bob’s young son,

Robert, next in line.

And, that makes the Buzzell extended family,

a.k.a. the staff, very happy as they say the family

atmosphere is a big part of what separates

Buzzell from other companies.

To learn more about Buzzell Plumbing,

Heating and Air, please visit www.mybuzzell.com

or visit in person at the Warner Robins

showroom located at 4811 Russell Parkway or

the Macon showroom at 1809 Hardeman

Avenue. Showroom hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday through Friday in both locations. The

phone numbers to call are 478-449-0242 in

Warner Robins or 478-992-1992 in Macon.

Above: Bob Buzzell.

Below: The Buzzell Plumbing,

Heating and Air Conditioning

showroom at 4811 Russell Parkway

in Warner Robins.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 107


MIDDLE

GEORGIA

STATE

UNIVERSITY

Top: Thomas School, built in 1944-

1945, is named in memory of Army

Air Force Second Lieutenant Charles

Thomas III, a West Point graduate

who was lost at sea during a training

flight in May 1942. His father,

Colonel Charles E. Thomas Jr., was

the first commander of the Wellston

Air Depot.

Bottom: Nursing students attend

classes in Oak Hall’s STEM wing,

which supports degree programs

related to science, technology,

engineering and math.

Warner Robins and Houston County are pivotal

to the history of Middle Georgia State University.

In 1970, what was then Macon Junior

College—now Middle Georgia State University—

began offering courses at the Robins Resident

Center as part of a University System of Georgia

(USG) program established at Robins Air Force

Base at the request of Air Logistics Complex

(ALC) Commander, Major General A.J. Beck.

In 1991, the college began serving area residents

through its Warner Robins Center, located

in leased space in the Advanced Technology

Park. Finally, in 2003, with strong support from

local and state officials, the college opened a

permanent Warner Robins Campus on Watson

Boulevard, approximately a half mile from the

main gate at Robins AFB.

A permanent college campus was exactly what

then Mayor Donald Walker and the Warner Robins

City Council were hoping for in 2001 when they

invested $762,000 in the historic Charles Thomas

(Elementary) School—one of the community’s oldest

buildings—and donated it to Middle Georgia

State’s governing body, the USG’s Board of Regents.

In 2002, then-Representative Larry Walker

and other members of the central Georgia legislative

delegation secured a $5 million state

appropriation to modernize the Thomas School

(preserving the architecture, including arched

exterior windows, corridor breeze sashes and

familiar white cupola with rooster weather vane

on the roof) and build an additional facility on

the same site for a high-tech, full-service campus.

The former Thomas School—now called

Thomas Hall—is still the “front door” of the

Warner Robins Campus, which remains a vital

part of Middle Georgia State University.

Middle Georgia State continues to expand the

campus, adding in 2018 a STEM wing to Oak

Hall to support courses and degree programs

related to science (including nursing and health

sciences), technology, engineering and math.

As of 2018, the Warner Robins Campus consists

of Thomas Hall, the Academic Services

Building and Oak Hall. Middle Georgia State’s

Office of Graduate Studies also is based at the

Warner Robins Campus.

108 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


COMBINED

EMPLOYEES

CREDIT UNION

As the leadership of Combined Employees

Credit Union (CECU) prepared to celebrate the

organization’s fiftieth anniversary in 2019, they

paused to express gratitude for the eight forward-thinking

individuals that started it all on

October 6, 1969 with just a vision and a combined

deposit of $200.00.

“It’s always noteworthy when an organization

reaches the half century mark, but to do so having

grown from a few founding members and

$200 to more than 3,300 members with assets

of over $11.5 million is truly remarkable,” said

current President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert Glore, Jr., stopping a recent interview to

individually name and show reverence to the

founders–Homer Walker, Thomas McMinn,

Sara Gunter, George Barfield, W.H. Rape, Billy

Parker, William Wisse and Claude Lewis. “They

and the leaders who have followed deserve

much credit for having such vision and giving

us such a strong foundation.”

A not-for-profit entity owned and operated by

its members, CECU was initially named the

Warner Robins Employees Credit Union and was

founded to serve employees of the City of Warner

Robins and its elected and appointed officials.

With its first office located in City Hall, the new

credit union ended its debut year with assets of

$39,000. After amending the charter in 1972 to

include employees and elected and appointed officials

of Houston County, employees of the

Houston County Hospital, and family members of

eligible members, assets soared to over $250,000.

Growth continued throughout the 1980s and

1990s as other entities in the region were invited

to join and the credit union’s name was ultimately

changed to Combined Employees Credit Union.

CECU purchased its first office building at 106

South Houston Road in 1999 and its present headquarters

location at 593 Russell Parkway in 2010.

Today, CECU is sponsored by the Houston

County municipal authority, has nine employees,

and is governed by a voluntary board of directors

elected by members. Its growing membership

includes employees, retirees and family members

of the Houston County Commissioners, Houston

Healthcare Complex, city governments of Warner

Robins, Americus, Oglethorpe, Montezuma,

Centerville, Marshallville, Perry and Fort Valley,

as well as the Fort Valley Utilities Department,

Peach County Commissioners, Macon County

Commissioners, Cornerstone Medical Associates,

The Imaging Center and The Phoenix Center.

It provides many of the same products and

services offered by other financial institutions,

but with one major difference–as a not-for-profit

entity insured by the National Credit Union

Administration and the National Credit Union

Share Insurance Fund, all earnings are returned

to members in the form of high-interest savings

and low rate loans and new services, according

to Glore.

“We have found success in staying true to our

roots and founding philosophy of ‘people helping

people’ and are committed to building lifelong

relationships and providing our members

with financial services that help them afford

life,” Glore concluded.

For more information on Combined

Employees Credit Union, visit online at conbinedecu.com,

or in person at 593 Russell

Parkway or call (478) 929-5700.

Combined Employees Credit Union

fifty years of serving those that serve.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 109


21ST CENTURY

PARTNERSHIP

Top: Eddie Wiggins, Chairman of the

21st Century Partnership.

Bottom: Bill Powell, 13 WMAZ

Meteorologist.

During the 1993 Base Realignment and

Closure (BRAC) process, Robins Air Force Base

was added to the BRAC list for evaluation…a

shock to the entire Middle Georgia region, as

well as to the entire State of Georgia. At the

insistence of Senator Sam Nunn, the 21st

Century Partnership was hurriedly formed to

defend Robins and thus the Middle Georgia area

during the critical BRAC process.

This massive organizational effort was spearheaded

by community leaders such as George

Israel, Bob Hatcher, Paul Nagle, Ralph Nix,

Eddie Wiggins, Sherrill Stafford, Jack Steed, and

many others…with the sage counsel of Senator

Nunn. The military value of the base, and community,

was once again evaluated in BRAC 2005.

As in BRAC 1995, not only did Robins survive,

but actually gained missions during BRAC 2005.

Fortunately, the 21st Century Partnership

continues to defend and invoke positive actions

to ensure the continued viability of the base.

That is: the best way to defend Robins is from an

offensive standpoint vs. a defensive standpoint.

The objective was straightforward–make Robins

and Middle Georgia so attractive to decision

makers for assignment of military missions that

the base would expand and become so vital to

the Nation’s defense posture, it would always be

in a position to accept and execute new missions

vs. just fighting to keep jobs in Middle Georgia.

This approach caused focus and solutions to

issues like encroachment; education; affordable/suitable

housing; child care; healthcare; air

quality; workforce development; transportation

access; quality of life for assigned personnel;

cost of living; cost of operating an installation in

Middle Georgia; capacity to grow; base-community

partnerships; public private partnerships;

collaboration with sister Air Force industrial

operations; and helping Robins execute their

strategic plan.

Focus for the future is a strategy and action

plan that builds on National, State and local layers,

ensuring not only the continuing viability of

Robins AFB in the future but will work to bring

more missions and jobs to the Middle Georgia

area. Robins Air Force Base will remain an important

component in Middle Georgia, and 21st

Century Partnership will support them both.

110 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


When Doctors N. Lyle Lastinger and Clayton

A. Smith first hung out the Vision Savers’ shingle

in Warner Robins on November 1, 1990, they

had one clear vision—to offer superior eye care

and eye wear in a friendly environment to the

people of Warner Robins and Houston County.

Today, almost three decades later, they have

not only realized that vision, but have far surpassed

it. With Warner Robins the flagship,

Vision Savers, Inc., now has four additional

locations in Eastman, Dublin, Macon and

Forsyth. Each location has a retail optical

shop and optometrists’ office, and several have

in-house labs.

“We have come a long way in the past three

decades,” said Connie Holland, the company’s

chief executive officer and a member of the original

Vision Savers team. “In the beginning, I

color-coded our accounts payable to indicate

who would get paid that week. Today, we not

only have five successful locations and twenty

full-time employees, but we also have patients

that come from far away to see us.”

Dr. Lastinger also takes care of the vision

needs for crews from Marvel Studios of Georgia

and AMC’s The Walking Dead, as well as famed

professional wrestler, Dave Bautista.

“We call Dr. Lastinger our ‘Eye Doctor to the

Stars’. We often close our offices and take our

staff to lunch and a movie, not only to support

our studio clients, but also to build on the family-hometown

atmosphere that is so important

to us,” said Holland.

Both natives of South Georgia, Lastinger and

Smith quickly became friends while learning the

ropes at an optical shop in Moultrie, Georgia.

Fresh out of college and having graduated ahead

of his class, Lastinger first bought an interest in

a practice in Tallahassee, Florida, and also

worked in practices in Thomaston and Macon.

Smith—still in optometry school at the time—

worked with Lastinger during breaks and it was

not long after he graduated that the two decided

to go into business together.

“They wanted to make decisions that would

allow them to take the very best care of their

patients,” Holland said, adding that they chose

Warner Robins because of its hometown feel

and growth potential.

It looks like they made the right decision as

Vision Savers, Inc. is just large enough to take

care of all their patients’ eye care needs, yet

small enough to be the hometown optical

shop. They love serving their patients, many of

whom started out with them as small children

and now bring in their own kids. They also

love being a part of a hometown with such a

bright future.

“We are thrilled with the renewal and

rebuilding going on in Warner Robins and are

eager to be a part it. What a ride this has

been so far! And, we are just getting started,”

Holland concluded.

Be sure to stop in and visit them in the Publix

Shopping Center at 2203 Watson Boulevard or

online at visionsavers.biz. The phone number is

478-328-3937.

VISION SAVERS,

INC.

Top: Connie A. Holland, CPA.

Above: N. Lyle Lastinger, O.D.

Bottom: Clayton A Smith, O.D.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 111


NORTHROP

GRUMMAN

At Northrop Grumman, innovation is not

just an idea–it is a way of life. With 85,000

global employees in all fifty states and in more

than twenty-five countries, our leading global

security company strives to attract and retain

the best employees.

For almost ninety years, Northrop Grumman

has provided systems and services to

government and commercial customers

worldwide to address emerging challenges

critical to the defense of the nation and our

allies. Our company offers an extraordinary

portfolio of capabilities and technologies that

enable our team to deliver innovative systems

and solutions for applications that range from

undersea to outer space and into cyberspace.

Northrop Grumman has successfully

delivered support to crucial national security

programs at Warner Robins for over

thirty years from embedded software

development to operational flight programs

sustainment and avionics modeling and

simulation. At Robins Air Force Base in Warner

Robins, Georgia, our workforce of

approximately 550 employees work to support

the operational E-8C Joint Surveillance Target

Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) fleet and the

RQ-4 Global Hawk, and provide more than

3,700 repairs annually.

We provide an inclusive work environment so

our talented employees collaborate to share

diverse ideas and perspectives. We are all united

in our mission to help solve our toughest

customer challenges and remain committed to

advancing the warfighter’s mission.

Our commitment has enabled the creation of

significant technology-based jobs in Warner

Robins. Our company’s passion for producing

world-class systems to enable Warner Robins to

continue to develop economically is matched

only by our employees’ enthusiasm for

supporting our community.

Employees volunteer in the Warner Robins

area in support of Science, Technology,

Engineering and Math programs (STEM), and

engage in events such as the Warner Robins

Georgia Museum of Aviation Foundation Gala

and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

In addition to our volunteer efforts, we are proud

of our charitable contributions throughout the

state of Georgia, as well as university partnerships

with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the

University of Georgia.

Northrop Grumman is honored to be a

member of the Warner Robins community, a

great place for our employees to live, work and

contribute to the defense of the nation as well as

make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

112 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


WADDLE

SURVEYING

COMPANY, INC.

Ten years after WWII ended, Theodore W.

Waddle, Sr. was working at Robins AFB as a

drafter. A young newlywed, “Ted” was also surveying

and drafting on the side with the hope

that work would enable him to acquire his surveying

and engineering license.

Friend Charlie Williams wanted to help Ted

get his license to handle the surveys he planned

for proposed projects, mainly subdivisions. He

did, and along with the help of Stan Boor, Tom

Hunt and Tommy Walker, Ted started his own

business, with Azealia Park his first project. They

were followed by Walker Park, Statham Way,

Golf Course, and Barrington Hall in Macon.

Using the talent of Attorney Bill Wisse, Claud

Westbrook, and Barbara Waddle; Ted formed the

company of Waddle Surveying Company, Inc.

Waddle Surveying assists individuals and

companies seeking property surveys and engineering

services. It surveys the land; stakes it for

property lines and poles to be set for utilities,

running lines, and easements.

The business primarily does the surveying

and engineering for subdivisions, business

structures and residential developments. In

addition, it operates a side business for printing

copies of plats or other diagrams for people.

Waddle Surveying has five employees who

do loan plats for subdivisions, surveys for golf

courses, apartments, lot lines for fences to be

erected, etc.

Ted sold a third of the business to Griff

Clements, a former employee and registered

land surveyor. In the mid-1980s, Waddle

bought the stocks he had sold Clements when

Clements went out on his own. “Our son, Ted,

Jr. became vice president some years ago and

president in 2014. My wife, Barbara remains

secretary of the company,” says Ted.

Ted and Barbara were married in 1949 in

Stearns, Kentucky and moved to Warner Robins,

Georgia in 1951, a year after their first child,

Ted, Jr., was born. Donna, Debbie and Tim were

born in Macon, but Warner Robins is “home.”

The couple has been active in many community,

school, scout, and political endeavors.

Top: Ted and Barbara Waddle family

Thanksgiving, 2016 at the family

home.

Bottom: Representative Theodore

(Ted) W. Waddle, Sr., Georgia State

Legislature, District 113, 1973-1991.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 113


PHYSICIANS FOR

WOMEN, PC

The doctors and certified midwives of

Physicians for Women, P.C. Standing

(from left to right): Dr. Vijaya Vella,

Dr. Manoj Shah, Dr. Thekkepat

Sekhar, and Dr. Sarah Stanescu.

Seated (from left to right): Cindy

Foster, CNM, and Holly Cross, CNM

Women throughout Middle Georgia rely on

Physicians for Women in Warner-Robbins for

high quality obstetrical and gynecological care.

The highly qualified staff includes Dr. Manoj

Shah, Dr. Thekkepat Sekhar, Dr. Vijaya Vella,

and Dr. Sarah Stanescu, as well as midwives

Holly Cross and Cindy Foster and a dedicated

support team.

Physicians for Women provides highly

professional services in the fields of gynecology,

obstetrics, and midwifery, and procedures

and imaging.

Dr. Manoj Shah is Board Certified in

Obstetrics and Gynecology and completed his

post-graduate training at the Henry Ford

Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Shah, who

has lived in Warner Robbins since 1985. Made

history as the first physician in Houston

County to serve as president of the Medical

Association of Georgia. His special interests

include urinary incontinence, uterolvaginal

prolapse, cystocele, rectocele, menopausal

symptoms, laparoscopic minimally invasive

surgery, and infertility. Dr. Shah’s three children

were educated in the Houston County School

System. He is very active in the community and

sponsors teacher awards, as well as supporting

the Science Fair.

Dr. Thekkepat Sekhar is Board Certified in

obstetrics and gynecology and has been in

practice with Physicians for Women since 2001.

He completed his residency in obstetrics and

gynecology at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston,

Illinois, and is fellowship in pelvic surgery also

at St. Francis.

Dr. Vijaya Vella is Board Certified in

obstetrics and gynecology. She completed her

internship and residency at Temple University

Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Vella skillfully

takes care of women throughout their lifetime.

She is particularly adept at management of highrisk

pregnancies, surgical and non-surgical

management of utero-vaginal

prolapse, and minimally invasive

techniques for performance of

hysterectomy.

Dr. Sarah Stanescu completed her

training in obstetrics and gynecology

at MedStar Washington Hospital

Center and Georgetown University

Hospital in Washington, D.C. She

joined Physicians for Women in 2017

and welcomed her son, Felix, in

2018. Dr. Stanescu believes in

empowering women in their own

care. She has particular interests in

contraceptive counseling, PCOS,

abnormal bleeding, and evidencebased

labor management.

Also on the staff at Physicians for

Women are two highly trained and

experienced midwives, Holly Cross

,CNM and Cindy Foster, CNM. Holly

has a master’s degree in nursing science

from Frontier Nursing University and is

certified in midwifery by the American College

of Nurse Midwives. Cindy graduated with

honors from Frontier Nursing University with a

master’s degree in Nursing and received her

certification from the American Midwifery

Certification Board.

At Physicians for Women, each patient is

treated with compassionate care and the latest

in diagnostic and surgical techniques. Whether

it’s a simple pregnancy or a complicated

disorder, patients can depend on the doctors

and nurses at Physicians for Women for the very

best treatment.

Physicians for Women is located at 1021 N.

Hoouston Road in Warner-Robbins. To learn

more, please visit www.pfwobgyn.com.

114 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


As workers buzz about finalizing preparations

for the dinner crowd, customers begin to file

into Sushi Thai Restaurant in Warner Robins.

Owner Gigi Villareal-Tebbe looks around and

smiles, her passion for her restaurant and

customers evident.

She points to a young couple with a fouryear-old

in tow. That couple, she says, has been

coming here since they started dating. The child

even has her own regular order now, a

California roll or octopus sashimi.

At the hi-top table, several college students

are celebrating the start of their senior year; and

at the corner booth, two businessmen are

discussing business. At the sushi bar, a group

clad in fatigues appear at home as they sip on

cocktails and enjoy what they describe as “the

best sushi in Middle Georgia.” Gigi excuses

herself to give a big hug to one of the soldiers

who has just returned from Iraq.

And then, there are the newlyweds who

requested to be seated in the loft, the most

romantic spot in the restaurant; the very place,

in fact, he had popped the question one year

ago today.

“People ask me why I love this place. This is

why,” says Gigi, herself a regular at the restaurant

from the time it opened in 2003 until she

purchased it in 2006.

A former California and Manila, Philippines

resident and flight attendant who traveled the

globe for almost twenty years, Gigi says that she

chose Warner Robins after visiting a relative.

She was looking for someplace with “more trees,

less traffic and plenty of friendly people” and

Warner Robins fit the bill.

Having given up flying to raise her family,

Gigi put her pre-med degree to work, serving

many years as an Administrator for a large

Middle Georgia medical practice. She continued

working that job by day and the restaurant by

night until the end of 2015 when she decided to

focus solely on the restaurant. Growing up, her

children enjoyed working beside her at the

restaurant and still lend a helping hand when

she needs it. Now a lawyer, her eldest helps

her out with legal issues, and the second is an

in-demand graphic artist who helps her with

her marketing and menu designs. Her son,

Gianni, helps her run the family business and

currently serves as the main sushi chef alongside

Sushi Thai’s executive chef Jason Belanio and a

full team of highly-skilled and experienced

chefs preparing authentic Thai and Japanese

cuisine daily.

Fully renovated in 2016 and designed by

Gigi to have a “more open, warm and inviting

atmosphere,” Sushi Thai Restaurant became the

“talk of the town” after it re-opened. It seats

approximately 200 people and features two

function rooms for private and business

functions complete with HDMI flat screen

TVs. It is located at 2624 Watson Boulevard,

Unit D, in Warner Robins and is repeatedly

voted “Best of the Best” by readers of the

Macon Telegraph year after year. For more

information, please visit www.sushithaiwr.com

or call 478- 923-0898.

SUSHI THAI

RESTAURANT

Sushi Thai Restaurant is located

2624 Watson Boulevard, Unit D, in

Warner Robins.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 115


GRIGGERS

WEALTH

MANAGEMENT

This is a sample caption.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MODESTO

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Local native William “Billy” Griggers always

knew he wanted a career helping people.

Getting there though took determination,

recognizing advantageous job opportunities,

and learning the business from the ground up.

He was willing to put in the time and effort,

however, and in 2006, founded what is today

known as Griggers Wealth Management.

Located at 314 Corder Road in Warner Robins,

Griggers Wealth Management (GWM) is a fullservice

planning and investment firm, which

specializes in providing clients with

individualized portfolio management, retirement

planning, and estate planning as well as tax

reduction strategies. The company also engages in

business consulting, particularly helping business

owners select the most effective and beneficial

retirement plans. As of 2018, the company

manages over $120 million in assets for clients.

“Wealth management is the process of

investing your wealth and developing strategies

to put your money to work for you,” said

Griggers. “Whether an individual, family or

business, we understand that each client has a

different situation and it is our responsibility to

help each one find the strategies they need for

their unique situation; to work toward

protecting what is important to them.”

Griggers added that he and the GWM team

are proud to have the strong backing of LPL

Financial, a national broker/dealer with which

he has a longstanding association. In fact, LPL

Financial was actually the broker/dealer

Griggers selected in 2000 when he launched his

own independent financial firm, the predecessor

of today’s GWM. An LPL Registered Investment

Advisor Representative with LPL Financial and

its financial advisors offer GWM clients a wide

array of investment advisory programs and

services and, in so doing, have a fiduciary

responsibility to act in each client’s best interest

and to make full-and-fair disclosure of all

material conflicts of interest.

Prior to starting his own business, Griggers

attended and graduated from Mercer University

with a Bachelor of Business Administration

(BBA) in management and a Master of Business

Administration (MBA) in finance. After

college, he spent almost two decades

honing and sharpening his knowledge of

investments, insurance and financial planning

at a number of respected local institutions

such as Prudential Securities Corporation,

SunTrust Bank, GE Capital and, finally, First

Liberty Bank.

It was after First Liberty was sold in 1999

that he decided to open his own investment

firm. Colleague Russell Pierce signed on in the

very beginning, while Hillary Mathews came

on board in 2005. Following a long career

with CB&T Bank, Julia Granade rounded out

the team in 2012 when the company

became Griggers Financial Services, LLC. In

2013, the company began doing business as

Griggers Wealth Management, a name Griggers

feels better reflects the ever-expanding scope

of business.

As for the future, Griggers says he looks

forward to his son, James, a finance student at

Mercer University, joining the business fulltime.

He and the entire GWM team also look

forward to continuing to grow the business

based on the company’s founding principles of

traditional values, hard work, loyalty,

uncompromising quality, personal service and

community involvement.

For more information, call 478-225-6750 or

visit www.griggerswealth.com.

Securities and advisory services offered

through LPL Financial, a registered investment

advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

116 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


More than sixty years ago, Vera Williams

Dunagan’s love of children and her passion to

help them get a great start in life prompted her

to develop the Meadowdale Learning Center in

Warner Robins.

She started the center in 1957 as a daycare

facility on Meadowdale Drive that has since

grown into a thriving family-owned business.

Later, North Davis Drive was opened. Vera

retired in 1971; and, her son, Olen with wife Pat,

and their three sons (Wade, Russell and Kelly)

moved from Birmingham, Alabama to take over

the business, contributing greatly to its growth.

Following Vera’s death in 1975, Olen and Pat

built and opened Meadowdale Learning Centers

on Elberta Road in 1977, Moody Road in 1981,

and Leverette Road in 1993. Wade and Donna

Williams built and opened Houston Lake Road

center in Perry in 1990. When Olen and Pat

retired in 2006, Wade and Donna, along with

Kelly and Michelle bought the business; and,

Kelly and Michelle built and opened the Feagin

Mill Road location in 2016.

Meadowdale’s centers also provide a

curriculum-based learning program in each

classroom, using the High Scope and Creative

Curriculums. It provides an individualized

curriculum for children from six weeks-of-age to

eleven years of age. In addition, it offers GA Pre-K

for four-year-olds, and nutritionally-approved

breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for all.

The staff is required to be Child Development

Associate (CDA), Technical Certificate of Credit

(TCC), and bachelors and master’s degrees. All

staff is highly screened and has first aid and CPR

training. They also undergo national fingerprint

screening prior to employment.

Meadowdale Learning Centers has served as

an icon for childcare for sixty-one years in

Georgia. Its facilities have been honored by

multiple generations who have placed their trust

and care of their children to Meadowdale. It is

the oldest childcare business in Warner Robins,

and one of the oldest existing businesses. It

attributes its success to Vera’s passion to “go

above and beyond the regulations of the state

of Georgia.” It has earned the highest of

accreditations from National Association for the

Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National

Early Childhood Program Accreditation

(NECPA), and the Georgia Centers of Distinction

Award. More recently it has become a “Quality-

Rated” center.

Meadowdale Learning Centers have grown

into a valuable and responsible component of

the Warner Robins community. For additional

information on Meadowdale Learning Centers,

please call 478 953 5101 or 478 953 1200.

MEADOWDALE

LEARNING

CENTERS

Above: Vera and Lacy Dunagan in

front of North Davis Drive location

in 1960.

Below: Feagin Mill Road location

opened in 2016.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 117


CUSTOM CABLE

ASSEMBLIES

Although its customer base and footprint is

now global, Custom Cable Assemblies, Inc., is a

family business in the truest sense.

It was built from the ground up by husbandand-wife-team

Joe and Thérèse Di Diego and has

expanded exponentially with the addition of a

second generation of Di Diegos as well as a

number of long-time employees that have become

more like extended family than employees.

Specializing in providing its growing customer

base with all types of flexible, semi-rigid and semiflexible

coaxial cable assemblies, Custom Cable

Assemblies (CCA) actually got its start in 1985 on

Long Island, New York, where the Di Diegos lived;

however, when an opportunity to further advance

the business in Warner Robins came about in

1989, they packed up the business and their four

young sons and journeyed nearly a thousand miles

to the place they would soon call home.

The company was incorporated as a Georgia

company in January 1990 and started out with

a lean, but dynamic workforce of three—Joe

and Thérèse Di Diego and their first-ever

Georgia hire, Randy Francis. Now the

company’s quality/process manager, Francis

celebrates his thirtieth anniversary with CCA in

2019. Another longtime employee, Tina Ward,

joined the company in 1996 and currently

serves as lead technician and inspector.

As teenagers, even the Di Diego’s sons—

Christopher, Paul, Brian, and Anthony—

pitched in, working diligently during school

breaks and holidays. Anthony, however, was the

only one who chose to make CCA his career and

joined the company full-time in 2001.

Joe and Thérèse are quick to credit their

veteran employees as well as their sons as central

to their company’s success after its relocation to

Warner Robins. They also point to son Anthony

and his wife, Anne, as being instrumental in the

explosive growth the company has experienced

over the last two decades. Anthony Di Diego,

now a full partner in the company, doubles as

sales and production manager, while Anne, who

joined on in 2003, serves as inventory manager

and is fondly describe by the CCA family as the

company’s “right hand.”

Outgrowing its facilities twice over the years,

the company currently has a 7,000-square-foot

manufacturing facility and home office located

at 105 Whiting Way in Warner Robins. It

employs fifteen full-time staffers and serves

clients in the U.S. Department of Defense and

other areas of government as well as clients in

the aerospace, telecom, wireless and scientific

industries worldwide.

And, yet, it remains a family business; a family

business that may very well be training up its

third generation as Anthony and Anne Di Diego’s

teenage children, Allie and AJ, follow in their dad’s

and uncles’ footsteps spending their summer and

school vacations learning the CCA ropes.

Together, all the Di Diegos and the CCA

family plan to keep growing and serving their

clients as well as the Warner Robins community;

a community which has become their home and

the canvas upon which they have created a

successful local business with a global impact.

For more information on CCA, please visit

www.customcableinc.com.

118 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


MUSEUM OF

AVIATION

On July 8, 1980, the Air Force approved the

establishment of a museum at Robins Air Force

Base. The first Museum building opened to the

public in November 1984 in a surplus building

brought from Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta,

Georgia. Another aircraft hangar was added in

1990 and in 1992 a new three story “Eagle”

building was revealed. The Museum of Aviation

Foundation then raised money to add the

60,000-square-foot Century of Flight Hangar in

1995 and the newest 60,000-square-foot Scott

Exhibit Hangar in 2008.

Today, the Museum of Aviation in Warner

Robins, Georgia, is one of the largest aviation

museums in the United States and the major U.S.

Air Force Heritage, Exhibit and Education Center

in the Southeast. The Museum is the second largest

museum in the U.S. Air Force and one of only ten

aviation museums in the United States to be

accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Museum sits on fifty-one acres adjacent

to Robins Air Force Base. In addition to four

large exhibit buildings with over two hundred

thousand square feet of exhibit and education

classroom space, the museum has a restoration

hangar, an archives building, a carpenter shop

and a large aircraft-parts storage building.

Admission is free and the museum is open 9

a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, 362 days a year.

The Museum has a large collection of

approximately eighty-five historic U.S. Air Force

aircraft, missiles and cockpits dating from a

replica of a 1896 glider to modern aircraft in

today’s U.S. Air Force inventory. Just a few

notable aircraft include the actual SR-71 that set

the world absolute speed record of 2,193 mph, B-

25, B-29, B-52 and B-1B bombers as well as an

UH-1F “Huey” climb in.

The Museum Foundation operates interactive

world-class education programs through its

National STEM Academy which focuses on

science, technology, engineering, mathematics

(STEM) and history. Opportunities for learners

ages four through adult are conducted both on

school sites and at the Museum of Aviation. An

average of fifty-six thousand students and teachers

take part in National STEM Academy education

programs each year.

Above: A F-15A “Eagle” on display at

the Museum of Aviation.

Below: The Museum of Aviation is

located at 1942 Heritage Boulevard

next to Robins Air Force Base. Please

visit www.museumofaviation.org for

more information.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 119


PERRY-

HOUSTON

COUNTY

AIRPORT

AUTHORITY

Above: PXE strives to promote general

and business aviation and provide

facilities and services to meet current

and future needs.

Below A pair of CH-53 Super

Stallions waiting on the tarmac.

The world was at war in July 1942, and the

military was in the midst of building its

airpower to fight the enemy. After the founding

of Robins Air Force Base, a need was cited for a

training facility off base. (It was feared that

pilots who were in training would interfere with

the necessary aircraft operations at Robins.)

Opening in July 1942, the airport was an

auxiliary training facility for Army pilots. After

WWII ended in 1945, the City of Perry obtained

the field and developed it into a municipal

airport, opening in May 1947.

In March 1971, Georgia General Assembly

created the Perry-Fort Valley Airport Authority. The

property was ninety percent in Peach County and

ten percent in Houston County, which set off a tax

nightmare. In March 1994, the Assembly created

the Perry-Houston County Authority, annexing the

airport property into the City of Perry.

A temporary trailer served as the first

terminal, with the present terminal being built

in 1999. The runway was updated in 2002 to its

present size of 100 feet by 5,000 feet to

accommodate larger aircraft.

PXE, as the airport is known, is located on

approximately 500 acres in Houston and Peach

Counties. Eight employees dispense 100,000

gallons of aircraft fuel annually. Total aircraft

operations total more than 20,000 annually.

The organization has grown at a healthy rate

with fourteen aircraft based there in the late 1970s

to eighty-seven in 2018. There were ten open T-

hangers available in in the late 1970s. Today, there

is approximately 180,000 square feet of hanger

space with 10 open t-hangars, 56 closed t-hangars,

and 8 corporate hangars. PXE strives to promote

general and business aviation and provide facilities

and services to meet current and future needs. A

new terminal is being planned, with upgraded aircraft

and vehicle parking; as well as extending the

runway for general aviation aircraft.

PXE is headquartered at 200 Myrtle Field

Road in Perry, Georgia and on the Internet at

www.pxeairport.com.

120 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


WARNER ROBINS

CONVENTION &

VISITORS

BUREAU

Warner Robins, Georgia has proven to be a

great place to land as our neighbors across the

railroad tracks at Robins Air Force Base frequently

comment. It has been named the “most affordable

city in Georgia,” by liveability.com because of its

quality of life, nationally known aviation history,

Robins Air Force Base, Museum of Aviation,

Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame, award winning

education system, and good health index. The city

has grown in seventy-five years to offer walking

trails, golf courses, attractions, a local history

museum, continuous live Little Theatre,

Community Concerts, award winning sports

programs, ballet and everything you expect to

experience in an energetically thriving community

looking to the future.

In 1989, the Mayor and Council of Warner

Robins launched the City Promotion Committee

which was funded to create and promote events.

The effort was so successful that soon the

Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau

(CVB) was officially created and remains in the

business of promoting Warner Robins beyond

the city limits as a destination. The CVB manages

and coordinates the tourism attraction and

marketing efforts while reaching out to tour

operators, meeting planners, both business and

leisure travelers and other visitors to Warner

Robins. The vision of the CVB Boards of

Directors over the years has contributed to

tourism product development and consistent

rising visitation translating to millions of dollars

in tax revenues collected locally and for the state.

In fact, tourism is one of the largest

industries in Georgia generating $63.1 billion

according to the latest reported figures from

U.S. Travel Association. Today in Houston

County 2,131 jobs are supported through the

tourism industry and a whopping $237.09

million was spent locally last year by tourists!

The CVB Board and staff are honored to have

partnered with Planes, Trains and Heroes: the

Story of Warner Robins and the Robins Region,

1943-2018 to commemorate the city’s seventyfifth

anniversary. We salute all the men, women

and families over the years—both civilian and

military—who each left their imprint on what

truly has become “a city of destiny”

Above: Caboose SOU X556 was

donated to the Warner Robins CVB

and is available to give visitors a

glimpse of the region’s railroad history.

Below: The E. L. Greenway Welcome

Center at 99 Armed Forces

Boulevard North. Please visit the

Warner Robins CVB online at

www.WarnerRobinsVisitorsCenter.com.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 121


PEACHSTATE

HOSPITALITY

Top: The Fairfield Inn & Suites by

Marriott Warner Robins is located at

221 Margie Drive.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA THOMPSON.

Middle: The Courtyard Warner

Robins is located at 589 Carl

Vinson Parkway.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA THOMPSON.

Bottom: Candlewood Suites Warner

Robins is located at 110 Willie

Lee Parkway.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDA THOMPSON.

Entrepreneur Danny Patel founded PeachState

Hospitality in 1989 with a sixteen-unit,

independent motel in Montezuma, Georgia. Since

then, Patel has developed over fifty franchised and

independent hotels throughout the southeastern

United States. Among them are three hotels in

Warner Robins, Georgia.

The AAA Three-Diamond Fairfield Inn &

Suites by Marriott Warner Robins is located near

the Air Force Base, Little League International

Southeast Region Headquarters, Museum of

Aviation, Lane Peach Orchard, Macon State

College and Middle Georgia Technical School.

With easy access to I-75, I-16, and Highway 41

in Mid-Georgia, the hotel features seventy-four

spacious guest rooms and luxurious suites with

large, wireless work area for business guests,

complete with meeting room, ideal for small-tomedium

meetings.

In addition, rooms include a forty-inch TV,

microwave and refrigerator. Or, enjoy a hearthealthy

breakfast, compliments of the “house.”

Another desirable lodging facility is

Courtyard by Marriott Warner Robins. Larger

than the Fairfield Inn, it features 106 rooms

with refrigerators and Smart Televisions. It

provides wireless Internet access to keep

business guests “in touch” with their business

associates. Bathrooms have complimentary

toiletries and hair dryers. It has all the features

of home including telephones, desks, coffee/tea

makers; and fitness equipment to help keep

guests healthy while on the road. These include

an indoor pool, spa tub, and a twenty-four-hour

fitness center.

Food is served daily in the restaurant, and

breakfast is cooked to order for a fee. Those in

a hurry need only to visit the hotel’s coffee

shop/café. At the end of the day, you can relax

with a drink in the hotel’s bar/lounge.

Whether guests are traveling for business or

pleasure, they can bask in the comfort of one of

Candlewood’s spacious, welcoming suites; get

down to business at an executive desk and enjoy

easy communication with a speakerphone,

voicemail and complimentary high-speed

Internet access. Or just relax in a comfy recliner

and listen to a favorite CD or DVD from the

hotel’s free lending library. If cooking is on the

agenda, you can cook up a home-style meal in a

fully equipped kitchen or barbecue a steak in

the outdoor grill area after picking up food and

provisions at Candlewood Cupboards, the

onsite convenience store.

PeachState Hospitality’s mission statement is,

“Delivering Meaningful Experiences.”

122 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


They are in the business of business and have

been since a group of forward-thinking Warner

Robins entrepreneurs and businessmen got the

ball rolling back in 1949, just six years after the

town of Warner Robins was incorporated.

Although the name has since been changed

from the Warner Robins Chamber of Commerce

to the Robins Regional Chamber to better reflect

its scope and reach, the local chamber was officially

inked into existence on November 5, 1949

by Georgia’s then Secretary of State Benjamin W.

Fortson, Jr.

Four days later, the first officers were elected

by twenty local men who attended an inaugural

organizational meeting. In addition to 11

directors, Daniel K. Grahl, publisher of The

Warner Robins Press, was elected as the

chamber’s first president that November 9th.

Meetings were initially held at Warner

Robins City Hall where the chamber shared an

office with the United Givers Fund until 1961

when the organization built its own building

located at 1420 Watson Boulevard.

Today, Robins Regional Chamber represents

roughly eight hundred member businesses and is

located at 1228 Watson Boulevard in Warner

Robins, its modern façade a fitting face for a continually

growing organization dedicated to promoting

better economic climate and assisting with

business growth throughout the city and region.

“Our Chamber serves as an advocate for the

business community by being the voice of

business to government at all levels,” said current

President and CEO April Bragg as the organization

celebrated its seventieth anniversary in November

2019. “Whether you are a small business with one

employee, or a large corporation, the Chamber

helps provide you with access to government

officials and keeps you informed on important

legislation that could impact your business. Our

organization serves to link businesses, military

organizations and individuals together through

collaborative partnerships and initiatives to

strengthen the Robins Region’s long-term

economic vitality, business success, job creation

and quality of life.”

To learn more about the Robins Regional

Chamber and its many benefits, programs and

resources they offer, such as the Eggs & Issues

Breakfast Series and their exemplary leadership

development programs, please call 478-922-

8585 or visit www.robinsregion.com.

ROBINS

REGIONAL

CHAMBER

Top, left: Community and base

leadership gather together at

Chamber Eggs & Issues.

Top, right: Leadership Robins Region

Retreat at Rock Eagle

Bottom, left: Youth Leadership Robins

Region with Governor Brian Kemp.

Bottom, right: Growing our

community one business at a time.

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 123


YELVERTON

JEWELERS

Above: Darrell Yelverton, then

and now.

Below: Yelvertown Jewelers is located

at 98-A S Houston Lake Road in

Warner Robins.

Yelverton Jewelers has marked many

significant moments in peoples’ lives, from

birthdays and anniversaries, to marriage

proposals. At Yelverton Jewelers we have the

privilege of bringing you the very best customer

service provided in a warm and comfortable

family atmosphere.

Working in the jewelry industry since 1984,

Darrell Yelverton desired to open his own

store, together in 1997 Darrell Yelverton and

Wayne Crow opened their doors with preowned

equipment and cases in 700 square

feet. Two and a half years later, in 2000, they

moved to their 1,800-square-foot current

location which now has two on-staff jewelers

and ten employees.

Darrell Yelverton has

mastered the art of custom

designing jewelry of all types.

Customers describe an idea,

then Darrell and staff produce it,

giving close attention to detail

and uniqueness. Adding to the

sketch drawing in 2013, he

introduced a computer aided

design CAD CAM. This tool

allows customers to visualize

their designs in 3-D and take

part in the design process.

Almost all repairs are done on

the premises. Yelverton Jewelers

prides themselves with the most

technology advanced workshop in the Middle

Georgia area, recently adding a laser welder.

Yelverton Jewelers caters to a loyal customer

base with the smallest needs to the larger

orders, with clients all over the United States

and around the world. As our customers

move away from the area, they often wait

to have their jewelry repaired or custom made

when they visit Warner Robins. Many will

email requests with purchases or items they

want made.

Darrell Yelverton has earned his diplomas in

diamonds and color stone from GIA

(Gemological Institute of America). His son,

Gatlin Yelverton, is preparing to take over the

family business by pursuing his GIA studies,

completing his classes on pearls, diamonds,

and applied jewelry professional degree.

Darrell’s daughter, Callee Yelverton, has helped

by working in the store for the past four years,

as well.

Darrell belongs to the Warner Robins

Chamber of Commerce and Better Business

Bureau and support many local charities. He sits

on the board of directors for The H.A.L.O.

Group of Middle Georgia, is actively involved

with champions for children program with

Middle Georgia Easter Seals, and also works

with Central Baptist youth ministry.

Moving from Mobile, Alabama, at a very

young age, Darrell has lived in Warner Robins

since 1966. Graduating from Northside high

school and working in retail his whole life, he

truly knows everyone. He believes this helps in

owning a business because he has personal

relationships with his clients.

124 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


Since its origins in 1973, as a small regional

publishing company based in San Antonio,

Texas, Lammert Inc. has been in the business of

helping its customers tell their stories in the

most compelling and powerful ways possible.

Working with a wide variety of clients—from

corporations to civic organizations to individuals

and families, Lammert Inc. emerged as a force in

the publishing industry.

The company initially produced specialty publications,

such as an office building directory for

the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce,

and a pictorial roster for the San Antonio Bar

Association. Over the last four decades, Lammert

published hundreds of directories, maps, and

magazines for chambers of commerce and civic

groups across the country.

In the mid-1990s, Lammert created a new division,

Historical Publishing Network (HPN), and

focused on producing hardcover coffee table-style

history and cityscape books. The first of these was

Fire and Gold: The San Francisco Story. In the ensuing

years, Lammert perfected the sponsored-book

model of publishing.

Conceived around the idea of an ultra-high

quality hardcover chronicle of a city or county’s

past, these exceptional books were also designed

to raise funds for a sponsoring organization—typically

a chamber of commerce or a historical

preservation group. They utilized a unique advertising

mechanism, known as company profiles—

business and institutional histories, which were

purchased by organizations wishing to tell their

individual stories, and placed in special sections of

the books.

As of 2018, Lammert had published more

than 140 titles using the sponsored-book

model, while raising hundreds of thousands of

dollars for its many sponsoring groups.

Having carved out its position in the market for

turnkey design, production, and marketing of

photography-rich coffee table books through

HPN, in 2018 Lammert Inc. signaled a new focus

with the launch of its new division, HPN Custom

Media & Publishing (HPN-CMP).

HPN-CMP remains a one-stop source for

custom media, including turnkey book design,

writing, editing, and production, as well as

offering an enhanced range of customized

services, including print, digital, and photo and

video media solutions, as well as related website

design and events management services.

Employees, customers, partners, and shareholders

all value a credible story which unites the

organization’s past to its present and to its future,

enhancing its community standing and brand reputation,

or celebrating a significant anniversary,

milestone, or similar event.

The unique mix of talents and expertise

brought to bear in a HPN project culminates in a

remarkable creation—a breathtaking, photo-rich,

coffee table book.

The book may be complemented by a

dedicated website, digital “flip-book,” and/or by

related events to commemorate a historical

milestone, introduce or promote a product or

brand, or to present an organization’s annual

report with more impressive visuals. As a gift to

associates, partners, current and prospective

employees, clients, and civic officials, the book

serves as a powerful marketing tool.

For more information, or to inquire about

producing your own publication, please visit

www.hpncustommedia.com.

LAMMERT INC.

DBA

HPNBOOKS &

HPN CUSTOM

MEDIA &

PUBLISHING

Sharing the Heritage ✦ 125


SPONSORS

21st Century Partnership ...........................................................................................................................................................110

Academy of Dance .......................................................................................................................................................................77

American Legion Post 172............................................................................................................................................................90

Buzzell Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning .......................................................................................................................106

Central Georgia Periodontics and Dental Implants........................................................................................................................96

Clean Control Corporation.........................................................................................................................................................100

Combined Employees Credit Union ...........................................................................................................................................109

Custom Cable Assemblies...........................................................................................................................................................118

Davis Printing Company ..............................................................................................................................................................77

Family Dental Associates ..............................................................................................................................................................92

First United Methodist Church of Warner Robins.........................................................................................................................78

Flint Energies .............................................................................................................................................................................104

Georgia Military College...............................................................................................................................................................94

Golden Key Realty......................................................................................................................................................................102

Griggers Wealth Management .....................................................................................................................................................116

Heart of Georgia Hospice .............................................................................................................................................................82

Jimmy Spinks, State Farm Agent ..................................................................................................................................................98

Meadowdale Learning Centers....................................................................................................................................................117

Mercer University School of Engineering and Mercer Engineering Research Center ......................................................................80

Middle Georgia State University .................................................................................................................................................108

Museum of Aviation ...................................................................................................................................................................119

National Exterminating Company, Inc. .........................................................................................................................................77

Northrop Grumman ...................................................................................................................................................................112

PeachState Hospitality ................................................................................................................................................................122

Perry-Houston County Airport Authority ...................................................................................................................................120

Phillips Furniture.........................................................................................................................................................................77

Physicians for Women, PC..........................................................................................................................................................114

Robins Regional Chamber ..........................................................................................................................................................123

Sacred Heart Catholic Church and School ....................................................................................................................................84

Southern Lighting ........................................................................................................................................................................86

Strato, Inc. ...................................................................................................................................................................................77

Sushi Thai Restaurant.................................................................................................................................................................115

Vision Savers, Inc.......................................................................................................................................................................111

Waddle Surveying Company, Inc................................................................................................................................................113

Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau ............................................................................................................................121

Wellston Decorating .....................................................................................................................................................................88

Word in Season Ministries............................................................................................................................................................77

Yelverton Jewelers ......................................................................................................................................................................124

126 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D IANNE D ENT W ILCOX

Dianne Dent Wilcox uses research, memories, and photographs to capture history. An

award winner in history, writing, and education, Wilcox taught ten years of middle and

high school English, taught twenty years at Georgia Military College’s Warner Robins

campus, and now works at GMC’s Eastman campus. She serves as Humanities Division

Chair, fielding emails to instructors of English, art, music, theatre, religion, philosophy,

communications, French, German, Spanish, and creative writing across Georgia.

In 2018, she published Georgia Patchwork: Pictures and Personalities of 159 Counties and

is excited to have contributed to Warner Robins’ seventy-fifth anniversary piece, Planes,

Trains & Heroes.

About the Author ✦ 127


Marsha Priest Buzzell, Warner

Robins Convention & Visitors

Bureau director.

On March 5, 1943 a bill passed through the Georgia State Legislature incorporating a

new municipality in middle Georgia. Originally known as York, then Wellston, the

community was officially named Warner Robins after General Augustine Warner Robins.

What was described in Atlanta newspapers as “a city of destiny”, the citizens and work

force today can proudly celebrate the 75th Diamond Anniversary of “keeping them flying

since 1943”.

Planes, Trains & Heroes is a tribute to the Warner Robins community whose reputation

for Southern hospitality is legendary by living the motto Every Day in Middle Georgia

is Armed Forces Appreciation Day – EDIMGIAFAD! It began when troops and civilians

arrived, often by train, to serve at what is now Robins Air Force Base. A rural Georgia

farming community grew from supporting the World War II effort into one of the largest

industrial complexes in the state.

Today, the historic train depot is the E. L. Greenway Welcome Center, whose namesake

was instrumental in the planning and zoning of the City of Warner Robins. It stands on

the corner of Watson Boulevard, named after C. B. “Boss” Watson, the first mayor (1943-

1950), and Armed Forces Boulevard (formerly First Street) directly across from the Main

Gate of Robins Air Force Base. Standing as a legacy, the property is listed on the National

Register of Historic Places and includes the Elberta Depot Heritage Center, the authentic

Mildred’s Country Store, and a historic Southern Railroad Caboose.

The book project is a partnership of the City of Warner Robins, the Warner Robins

Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Robins

Region Chamber of Commerce and the Warner Robins Oral History Project. An

advocate of preserving Georgia’s history, culture and folklore, author Dianne Wilcox

continues the story Planes, Trains & Heroes. Truly the rest is history.

We salute the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Thank you and your

families for your service and sacrifices as defenders of freedom.

128 ✦ PLANES, TRAINS & HEROES


ISBN: 978-1-944891-67-1

$34.95

Historical Publishing Network

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