Wednesday, Jan. 10, 1934 was tagged “Professor Walter Clement Wilson Day” by the city’s Kiwanis Club at a meeting at the John Sevier Hotel. he honored person was a 71-year-old State Teachers College instructor and senior member of the club.
Kiwanians Harry Crigger and Clyde Culpepper were responsible for planning an appropriate program to honor the admired teacher. The speaker was Professor C. Hodge Mathes.
Mathes and Wilson were both employed at the State Teachers College. Wilson had the distinction of having been with the college since it was founded as the Normal School in 1911. “Professor Wilson is my ideal of a real everyday Christian gentleman,” said Mathes. “He has developed a very wholesome philosophy of life. I know he is fearless, despite the fact that he is built like Mahatma Gandhi.” This comment brought laughter from the membership, which included the guest of honor.
“When I met him when the faculty for the old State Normal School was being formed, our president referred to him as ‘a little package of dynamite.’ Professor Wilson receives the respect of all the students at the college. Everyone who knows the Professor respects him and loves him. He has never acquired a great fortune, but I personally know many instances where he has aided students in a financial way in their careers.”
Chairman Crigger then introduced Wilson to speak to the club, bringing the entire membership of the club to their feet in respect to their “youngest member.” Speaking in his distinctive manner, Wilson told Kiwanians that he never believed that he would live long enough to hear his own obituary.
Then switching to a serious mode, the professor expressed his appreciation for the confidence and feeling the members had demonstrated in the social program arranged in his behalf. He was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of the brief talk. At the end of the meeting, every club member extended him a hardy handshake and congratulations. At each place, members found a typewritten sheet copied from “Who’s Who” of 1930 that gave an impressive list of his education credentials, positions held and books authored.
The Kiwanis Club then conducted a brief business meeting before adjourning. Clyde C. Culpepper, general chairman of the safety campaign being sponsored in the public schools by the club, spoke briefly and announced the members assigned to the various public schools:
Keystone (Phil McAfee and Lonnie McCown), Columbus Powell (Dan Wexler and Frank Brogden), South Side (Mayor Ben Snipes and J.S. Holt), New Martha Wilder (later renamed Stratton), Howard Phillips and E.C. Bowers), New West Side (became Henry Johnson, Dr. Carroll Long and Dr. C.V. Morgan), Old West Side (Joe Brown and R.S. Edwards), Langston (Buddy Beckner and “Lefty” Lindsey), Science Hill (Jim Preas and T.E. Hollingsworth); Old Martha Wilder (Joe Summers and Ned Stacey), Junior High (Lee B. Harr and Frank Hannah), Old Columbus Powell (Carl Miller and Morgan Cox), Training School at State Teachers College (Prof. Walter C. Wilson and E.S. Coleman), Douglas (Glenn Elliott and Ralph Carr), Dunbar (Ray Harbison and Roy Bigelow), Piney Grove (John Massengill and Bert Gump) and Northside (Harry Crigger and Prof. N.E. Hodge).
Professor’ Wilson’s wife was named Sophronia and they resided at 813 Lake Street located between W. Maple and Lynn streets. If anyone remembers the professor or knows anything more about him, please drop me a note. He was obviously an outstanding citizen of yesteryear.