The News-Gazette and the Community Foundation of Randolph County continue their celebration of local heroes who have impacted the community or have gone above and beyond expectations to serve others. This effort is the result of a community foundation program that helps recognize such people while also raising money to help others.
“We thought really neat things would be to create a list of Randolph County Heroes,” said Community Foundation board member Cathy Stephen Miller of the ongoing program which started in 2015. “For $1,000, anyone can nominate a person (living or deceased), organization,
business, or community organization for the designation as a Randolph County Hero. The money goes into our unrestricted fund, which the board uses to do great things for Randolph County. It all has to do with making Randolph County a great place to live.”
People designated as Randolph County Heroes will have their names on a plaque in their honor at the foundation office and be featured in the News-Gazette.
The Community Foundation of Randolph County is pleased to announce the Randolph County Heroes Fund has reached an amazing milestone, considering it was only started in 2015. It has reached $100,000! That fund is considered an unrestricted endowed fund, where the proceeds each year can be used for the good of Randolph County at the discretion of the Board.
The Randolph County Heroes Fund is a wonderful way to remember someone who has passed, knowing the money contributed will help others for years to come. It is also a great way to honor those people working to make Randolph County a better place, like Al and Missy Williams, today’s honorees who were nominated by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
Al & Missy Williams
Al and Missy Williams seem like they are Randolph County natives when you consider the impact they have had on this community. But instead, their residency began when first Al graduated college and came to teach at Winchester Community High School in 1975. Then Missy came to Winchester Community High School to teach in 1979. They met each other during their first teaching jobs, married, and decided to make Randolph County their home. They consider it their good fortune, and we consider it ours!
Al taught social studies and coached track, basketball, and cross country. Missy also taught social studies and ended her career as Corporation Librarian/Media Specialist. She too coached basketball and cross country as well as volleyball and golf. They both sponsored clubs, departments, and intramurals.
Both Al and Missy have retired from those teaching positions, but the impact they have had on so many students through their teaching and coaching is evidenced by these comments from their former students. Miranda Loney Passmore says, “I had the pleasure of having both Al and Missy as coaches during my athletic career. Missy was my 6th-grade basketball coach. She not only helped me develop as a player but also helped me develop my leadership skills and confidence. Coach Al was my cross-country coach during high school. As a freshman, we had an incomplete girls’ team and were often not able to score in meets. With Coach Al’s recruiting skills and many talented runners coming into the program, we became Girls Cross Country Sectional Champions my senior year. But beyond the many wins, Coach Al was amazing at recognizing the strengths of all of his students and athletes and often recruited runners, as well as team managers, to be part of the team. I am forever grateful for Al and Missy’s love and support and am happy to call them friends now.”
Levi and Rebecca Baldridge were students who not only were coached by the Williams’ but also learned about the political process by knocking on doors during Missy’s campaign for city council. Missy and Al have had a tremendous impact on their lives. According to the Baldridge’s, they always displayed a passion for education and shaping the lives of the youth in the community. As cross-country coaches they spent countless hours mentoring and pushing Levi and Rebecca and teammates to do their best, going above and beyond to make sure all were
reaching their full potential. Rebecca and Levi said, “The Williams were always supportive of us and were readily available to help us any way they could. The Williams’ have spent their professional careers dedicated to investing in the youth of their community. We are eternally grateful for all they have done for us.”
Because of these wonderful relationships developed with students and their families, Al and Missy have more than likely attended more weddings than some of our local photographers and wedding planners!
Dr. Greg Hinshaw, former Randolph Central Superintendent, submitted these comments about Al Williams. “About 25 years ago, I completed my student teaching experience at Winchester Community High School under Al Williams and Gary Horner. It was an excellent experience that prepared me well for teaching in my own classroom. Al Williams was, even then, an innovative teacher who used a variety of effective teaching methods to reach students, resulting in very effective classroom management and high levels of student engagement. Twelve years later, when I returned to Winchester as Superintendent, Mr. Williams was still teaching, and I was able to see him finish his long teaching career at Winchester. Al Williams is truly one of
Randolph Central’s best.”
Mike Necessary, retired Randolph Southern Superintendent, worked with both All and Missy when he was principal at Winchester Community High School. Mike says’ “When one thinks about Randolph County Heroes, one has to think of The Williams’. They have done so much with their endeavors both in school and outside for their community.”
After retirement, neither Missy nor Al has quit making an impact on the lives of Randolph County residents. Al began serving on the Park Board under Mayor Shon Byrum. He helped other members of the Board understand how important quality of life issues are to economic development. Al helped, as a park board member, support the transformation of Goodrich
Park, Beeson Park, and the Beeson Club House. He and Missy are both avid walkers, bikers, and music lovers. They spent time visiting other communities to attend their summer concert series. Al saw no reason Randolph County could not have the Concerts in the Park as well. He wrote grants, got sponsors, and developed a committee of band “groupies” who would help him scout out good talent for our concerts. Even this past summer, during the pandemic, Al made sure we had safe entertainment in our park.
Missy has run for political office and has served on both City and County Council, where she still serves. In May of 2018, she was hired as Community Development Director of Randolph Economic Development Corporation. As of January 2021, the REDC reorganized to include a county-wide Chamber of Commerce and Tourism under the name Randolph County United.
Missy is now serving as Vice President of Business and Community Development of Randolph County United. Her job is to provide leadership to strengthen and serve the business community and assist in developing a vibrant quality of life in Randolph County.
According to Ceann Bales, President/CEO of Randolph County United, Missy is invaluable to the organization. She says, “Missy’s energy, passion for the community, and commitment to our youth is inspiring. I have been able to see her dedication and hard work firsthand over the past year when I joined REDC. Missy does not stop, from the moment she begins her day to the moment she ends her day, promoting local businesses, school activities, and community activities on social media. She loves celebrating the good in our community, which needless to say in 2020 was so very needed! I have a great deal of admiration for Missy and all she has done for Randolph County! Our community is a better place because she and Al decided to call
Randolph County home!” Greg Beumer, former REDC Executive Director says, “I had the privilege of working with Missy Williams for two years at our economic development office. I can say without reservation that I do not know anyone who has a higher level of commitment to our young people and to our community. As one example, during the pandemic Missy kept us informed of community efforts to deal with the impact of the virus through her social media postings. She kept us up to date on COVID-19 news such as, where to go for help, how we could provide help, fundraising, food drives and giveaways, and everything from winter coat collections to appeals to support local businesses. She was also on the frontline of planning and participating in many of these events. Her dedication to make her community the best of all places is unmatched. Missy Williams is truly a Randolph County Hero. Missy has also served on the originating committee for Randolph County Promise and developed a third-grade county-wide field trip celebrating the history of our county as well as encouraging participation in Randolph County Promise. Missy is an organizer and an excellent spokesperson for our community and Randolph County businesses and schools.
Thank you, Randolph Central, for hiring these two young teachers in the 1970s, and thank you, Al and Missy, for making Randolph County home and a better place to live. You are truly Randolph County Heroes!