Huntingdon News

April 12, 2007
For immediate release:

Huntingdon College
News Release

Huntingdon Alumni Announce Awards for Achievement and Loyalty

The four 2007 recipients have focused their lives on serving those considered “the least of these”

Montgomery, Ala.—“Enter to grow in wisdom; go forth to apply wisdom in service,” is the Huntingdon College motto, inscribed in stone above the front door of the College’s oldest building, John Jefferson Flowers Hall. The Huntingdon College National Alumni Association took that motto to heart in selecting the 2007 alumni loyalty and achievement winners. Each of this year’s award winners has devoted his or her life to serving individuals who would be considered among “the least of these.” The board’s annual Outstanding Young Alumni Award will be given to Marquell Johnson, a native of Ramer, Alabama, who works with individuals who have physical disabilities. Camilla Sessions Wible, a Montgomery resident originally from Ozark, and Ruth Griffin Crosby, a Birmingham resident originally from Greenville, will be recognized with Alumni Achievement Awards for their work with gerontological patients and homeless women, respectively. Betty Gensert Towey of Mobile, who coordinates homebound ministries for her church, will receive the Alumni Loyalty Award. In addition, a special Loyalty Award will be given to Dr. Thomas F. Staton, professor emeritus of psychology, of Montgomery. Awards will be given at the College’s annual Alumni Awards Banquet, Friday, April 27, in Julia Walker Russell Dining Hall.

Johnson, Marquell photo

After graduating from Huntingdon College in 2001, Marquell Johnson completed his Master’s degree in adapted physical education at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse in 2004. He is completing his Ph.D. in movement studies in disability at Oregon State University. A native of Ramer, Alabama, Johnson resides with his wife Erin in Corvallis, Oregon, where he is completing his dissertation this summer. Johnson credits Huntingdon and its SuperSports program, now known as the Wheelin’ Hawks program, for sparking his interest and passion for working with people who have disabilities. As an undergraduate at Huntingdon, he was the lead student volunteer for the SuperSports program, progressing later to volunteer recruiter and then student director of the program. Since his days of coordinating the SuperSports program, he has gone on to coordinate and lead a variety of school- and community-based programs for children with a variety of disabilities. He has also coordinated many community-based programs for adults with disabilities; primarily programs that have focused on adults with multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injuries. After completing his doctorate, he plans to continue developing community-based and school-based programs that promote and increase physical activity opportunities for individuals who have disabilities. He also looks forward to training undergraduate and graduate students in the allied health professions on how to incorporate the needs of individuals with disabilities into their professional training.

Wible, Camilla Sessions photo

Camilla Sessions Wible, a native of Ozark, Alabama, completed her Huntingdon Bachelor’s degree in home economics with minors in science and sociology in 1965. After marrying Montgomery architect Bill Wible, the couple settled into Montgomery life and Wible concentrated on raising her three children and volunteering as a room mother, team mother, Scout leader, and Sunday School and Bible School teacher. In 1971, Wible joined the South Central Alabama Rehabilitation Center as director of the Department of Activities of Daily Living. In 1977, she moved on to work as director of public relations, trainer, and field representative with the South Central Alabama Girl Scout Council. In 1983, she was hired to coordinate the Lifeline program for Baptist Health, which installs, monitors, and maintains personal emergency response equipment in individuals’ homes. In its infancy, the program had 35 subscribers. Under Wible’s leadership, Lifeline has grown to 650 subscribers and is one of the largest and most profitable in the United States. According to Wible, services are provided to subscribers at one of the lowest prices in the nation. In 1986, Wible was asked to serve on a Gerontology Task Force to develop ideas for a Baptist program to offer health-related services to seniors. That program, now known as Senior Advantage, has grown to more than 10,000 members. Wible developed the membership mechanism; recommended program materials, programs, services, and discounts to be offered; and ultimately implemented the program. Senior Advantage established and maintains three support groups: one for care-givers and two for families of Alzheimer’s patients. These groups have raised more than $100,000 in funds to support programs and seminars and to provide materials on care-giving and dementia. Wible is certified as a DETA Trainer (Dementia Education and Training Act), and has become certified in gerontology. In 2001, she assumed responsibility for managing all of the volunteer services for Baptist Health. She and her staff recruit, train, supervise, evaluate, and recognize more than 400 volunteers at Baptist Health. Wible was a member of the 1999–2001 National Advisory Board for Lifeline Inc. and was the 1999 recipient of the Catalyst Award for Outstanding Senior Programs in the nation. She has been elected to the Alabama Senior Hall of Fame and served for eight years as chairman of the advisory council for the South Central Alabama Aging Consortium.

Crosby, Ruth Griffin photo

Ruth Griffin Crosby of Birmingham grew up in Greenville, Alabama, as the oldest of five children. After graduating from Huntingdon in 1970 with a degree in biology, she worked in malaria research and cancer prevention research at Southern Research Institute. She then took a job at the University of Alabama Birmingham in the Comparative Medicine Department, and later worked for eight years at EBSCO Media. In 1997, Crosby began volunteering at the homeless women’s shelter in the basement of First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham. Since then, she has dedicated her life to serving the homeless women in her community. After serving as a volunteer for two years, she was hired as the shelter coordinator in 1999, moving up to shelter transition manager, and later serving as founding executive director. In May 2000 the shelter moved out of the basement of the church and into the renovated Granada Hotel, becoming First Light Inc., A Center for Homeless Women and Children. First Light was founded to expand the services for homeless women and children in the Birmingham area and to incorporate the emergency shelter for women and children that operated in the basement of First Presbyterian Church. The program provides vital services to the homeless women and children of Birmingham, including the Emergency Shelter, the Overflow Emergency Shelter, Permanent Supportive Housing, Project Healthy Minds, and Creative Adventures: Affirmation and Healing through the Arts. More than 10,000 volunteer hours were logged last year by volunteers who serve meals and stay overnight in the shelter to distribute linens and personal items to the guests. First Light provided 14,581 nights of shelter for an unduplicated 895 guests: 784 homeless women and 111 children. Crosby serves on the Mayor’s Commission to Prevent and End Chronic Homelessness and is a deacon at Independent Presbyterian Church of Birmingham.

Towey, Betty Gensert photo

Betty Gensert Towey of Mobile, Alabama, excelled at Huntingdon, where she served as president of the student body, was selected as Miss Charming Maid, and was a member of Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and Tri-Sigma. Towey, voted Most Likely to Succeed, graduated with a degree in English in 1945, then did graduate work in speech at the University of Alabama. She went on to teach senior high and middle school speech and English for 24 years. During her career in education, she became a member of the teachers’ honorary society, Delta Kappa Gamma. Active in Little Theatre productions, she has received best actress and best supporting actress awards. She has also been a member of the Modern Study Club, where she served as president and coordinated many of the club’s programs. Always loyal to Huntingdon, Towey has served as class agent for the Class of 1945 for many years. She is also a member of the College’s John Massey Heritage Society and has attended May Day/Homecoming/Reunions as she has been able. She coordinated the Class of 1945’s sixtieth class reunion, which was held in 2005. Towey has also been an active volunteer at First Baptist Church of Mobile, working for years with children’s Sunday School and as the Business Women’s Missionary Union. Currently she is coordinator of the Home Bound Ministry and the Bible Study section of a continuing education program called “Experiences in Enrichment,” inviting ministers of all faiths to speak to an ecumenical audience.

Staton, Thomas photo

Thomas F. Staton was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains 90 years ago. His father was a school teacher and farmer, and his mother taught in a one-room schoolhouse in North Georgia before she married. He entered school in the third grade when he was six years old. He went on to graduate high school and attended the University of Georgia, where he received his Master’s degree when he was 19 years of age. His first job was with the Atlanta Public School System where, at age 19, he was hired as a half-time substitute teacher in a junior high school at $40 per month. He served in the United States Army and World War II as a clinical psychologist and received his Ph.D. from George Peabody College for Teachers. In 1946, Dr. Staton came to Montgomery as a member of the Educational Advisory Staff of Air University. He spent most of his years there as senior educational advisor at the Air Command and Staff College, where he lectured many times each year to classes of approximately 500 captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels on psychological factors in leadership and in international relations. He came to Huntingdon College in 1960, where he served 20 years as head of the Psychology Department. While at Huntingdon he taught summer schools in several colleges and universities and wrote several books on various applications of psychology, which were published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Afrikaans, and Indonesian. This past winter, he was notified that a new printing of one of his books has been published in Chinese. Dr. Staton’s interest in various practical applications of psychology led him to lecture to legal groups and insurance federations in a number of states. Because of his long-time interest in criminology, he has volunteered extensive hours in Alabama prisons, where he conducted inmate discussion groups on personal adjustment. In the 1970s the Governor appointed him to the Alabama Board of Corrections, where he served eight years, two as chairman. The Governor asked Dr. Staton to prepare a report that would put Alabama in competition with other states for one of six federal grants to be awarded based on “the best analysis of the state’s criminal justice system and proposals for the state’s criminal justice system.” His work on that 554-page project one summer resulted in Alabama’s criminal justice system winning one of the six federal awards and receiving a substantial amount of federal funding for corrections. In the 1970s a new Alabama prison in Elmore County was named the Thomas F. Staton Correctional Facility.

Dr. Staton retired from Huntingdon in 1980 in order to move to Nashville with his wife, Emma, to care for his mother-in-law, who was in declining health. Following her death, he and Emma moved back to Montgomery and have lived here, one block from the campus, for the past 14 years. They became charter members of the Huntingdon College Hall of Honor, when, in a compelling gesture, the couple donated Emma’s diamond ring to the College. Then-Huntingdon President Dr. Allen Jackson thought it fitting that the proceeds be used to establish the Thomas and Emma Staton Endowed Scholarship. The Statons still eat many meals each week in the Huntingdon dining hall and attend many of the College’s public lectures and events.

The College’s Alumni Awards Banquet is part of Reunion Weekend, a spring-time tradition at the College. For more information on alumni awards and Reunion Weekend, contact the Office of Alumni Advancement at (334) 833-4564.

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Su Ofe
Associate Vice President for
Communications and Marketing
Office: (334) 833-4515
Cell: (334) 324-6591


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