Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

14 April 2006

Larry Stewart Committed to JSU

Freezing temperatures and hazardous driving conditions closed most businesses in northeast Alabama on the Saturday in December, 1965, when Larry Stewart and his father were driving from Talladega to meet Jacksonville State University President Houston Cole.

"We were thinking that the meeting probably would be cancelled," Stewart said. "When we ascended the plateau near Munford, the snow deepened and by the time we got to Jacksonville, the snow was more than two inches deep.

"Much to our surprise, the administration building was open, as was the door to Dr. Cole's office. Not only was Dr. Cole there, Dr. Bascom Wright, financial aid director, and the dean of men, Gus Edwards, were there also."

Stewart was seeking admission and financial help. After introductions, President Cole got to the point and asked Stewart why he wanted to attend Jacksonville State.

"I told him about my financial situation and that I had been impressed by Jacksonville when I was a delegate to the Student Conference on American Government at Jacksonville State in the fall of 1964. Dr. Cole asked me about my grades, and I told him I had a solid A minus average and that I had made 27 on my ACT. He laughed and said he believed he could help me.

"He told Dr. Wright and Mr. Edwards to have me sign some papers, and I left with grant-in-aids and National Defense Loans to cover all my books, tuition and fees, plus room and board. I was too stunned to say much more than 'thanks.' My father and I were very impressed that such an important man would take time on a snowy Saturday to meet with a lowly preacher's son and provide me with the means to an education."

Today, as Stewart looks back on his life and career, he cites a remarkable personal record: "After obtaining my B.S. degree in 1970, I earned my first master's in 1974. I acquired another master's in school administration in 1988. Altogether, from 1966 to 1989, when I took an undergraduate computer course, I was enrolled in JSU at least one semester of every year for 23 straight years!"

Stewart took full advantage of the opportunity provided by President Cole. During his four years at JSU, Stewart applied himself academically and became involved in campus organizations, including a group that was instrumental in bringing national fraternities to campus. Stewart became a member of Delta Tau Delta, which achieved the top grade point average.

Stewart was active in the Writers' Club and wrote for the campus newspaper. His outstanding performance earned Stewart election to Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

"I managed to graduate ranked higher in my college class than in high school," he said.

After earning his degree in secondary education, Stewart taught English and history in the Talladega city school system and later taught and coached at Weaver High School. He coached for 15 years and served as an administrative assistant for seven.

In 1994, Stewart was appointed assistant principal at Weaver Elementary, where he worked four years until his appointment as principal of Saks Middle School, from which he retired three years later.

Retirement did not end his involvement in education. He was elected to the Calhoun County school board and served six years.

"I like to think that my background and training have enabled me to contribute measurably to that success," he said.

"My time at JSU brought me into contact with some wonderful teachers and students, including Dr. Cole, who maintained contact with me and often invited me into his office for one of his 'chats' .... I could write a book on the influential teachers I had at JSU."

In addition to Stewart's 23-year relationship with JSU, he also found personal enrichment opportunities on campus.

"My wife and I have taken continuing education courses in Spanish and ballroom dancing. We continue JSU involvement as members of the Archaeology Club, and I continue as member of the Alumni Association, attending functions when possible.

"I have been wonderfully fortunate to be successful and happy in my career and in my avocations. Much of it I owe to my college experience."

In a letter to JSU President William A. Meehan, Stewart said, "I have never said a formal 'Thank You' to JSU until now. Many of those I would thank are no longer living, but I thank you as JSU President in their stead. I am very proud of my alma mater and the progress it has made in the last 36 years."

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at