Educators Curry, Irons Named to Alabama Men's Hall of Fame
Educators Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry and George Vernon Irons
have been elected to the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame at Samford University.
The two will be inducted during the annual Men's Hall of Fame luncheon Tuesday,
Sept. 24, at The Club. Tickets to the 11:30 a.m. event may be ordered by telephoning
Founded by the Alabama Legislature in 1987, the hall recognizes men "whose
lives have impacted the state, nation and world." Honorees must have been
deceased at least two years. HOF board members represent Alabama's seven Congressional
districts. The Birmingham Women's Committee of 100 sponsors the program.
Curry (1825-1903), an advocate of free schooling for everyone, supervised
the George Peabody Fund for public education in the South during the 1870s.
He also worked to improve education for African American children.
Curry, from Talladega, was a graduate of the University of Georgia and Harvard
law School. He served in the Alabama Legislature and was twice elected to the
U.S. Congress before the Civil War. Following service in the Confederate Army,
he was president of Howard College (now Samford University) during 1865-68 before
heading the Peabody Fund.
After declining the post of head of the national Bureau of Education, Curry
was appointed U.S. ambassador to Spain in 1885. He became the first Alabamian
to be recognized in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in 1906.
The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia is named in his
Irons (1902-98), from Demopolis, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University
of Alabama. A historian, he taught for more than 50 years with time out for
service as an antiaircraft artillery commander during World War II. Following
the war, he advised veterans returning to college.
After earning his doctorate from Duke University in 1933, Irons joined the
faculty at Samford University. He taught at Samford for 43 years, serving as
history department head for 22 years. He was a founder of the Alabama Historical
Association and a Birmingham civic leader.
Irons was a well known distance runner during the 1920s, serving as captain
of the track team and setting records at the University of Alabama. Nicknamed
the "Knight of the Cinder Path," he was inducted into the Alabama
Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.