Long-time Stillman employee, Ms. Annie Mary Gray was applauded for her outstanding service during her recent retirement party, which was held on the College campus and attended by over 70 people. Dr. Peter E. Millet presented her with a resolution; Ms. Nancy Boyd presented her with a proclamation from Congresswoman Terri Sewell; Mr. Anthony Holloman presented her with a plaque; and Dr. Linda Beito presented her with a gift from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Ms. Gray was also recognized by National Alumni Association President Mrs. Jean Wilson Sykes, Ms. Willie Mae Wells, Dr. Bettye Mullen and many others.
Ms. Gray was born on Stillman’s campus 70 years ago, grew up about 10 blocks away and worked for the College for the past 47 years. She is also a Stillman graduate.
Students and employees of the College are often shocked to learn that Ms. Gray was born in Snedecor Hall, which was formerly the Emily Estes Snedecor Nurses’ Training School and Hospital. For many years the building, which is now used for offices and classrooms, was the only health care facility for Black people in West Alabama.
Although Ms. Gray’s work in the College’s Department of Institutional Advancement entails assisting alumni and serving as an adviser to the Pre-Alumni Council, she is also among a handful of long-time employees who are viewed as keepers of Stillman history.
Because she has worked for so many years, Ms. Gray can testify to just how drastically technology has changed the workplace. While a paper jam at the copier may aggravate employees today, she remembers a time when making a copy was a serious undertaking. “You had to put on an apron before you made a copy because you would end up covered with powder,” she says.
Although she lives in walking distance from the campus and promises to remain active in the National Alumni Association of Stillman College (NAASC), many people feel as though Stillman is losing a bit of history now that Ms. Gray has retired. Long-time Stillman employee and former NAASC President Ms. Willie Mae Wells dubs Ms. Gray a “Stillman icon.” Current NAASC President Jean Sykes-Wilson, who served as Miss Stillman in 1989, muses that because Ms. Gray was born on campus, lived on campus and worked on campus, she is a Miss Stillman in her own right.
Ms. Luvenia Cain, who has worked for Stillman for 37 years, says, “I feel almost too emotional to speak about her retirement. She’s been here so long and she really knows our alumni and works so well with them. The entire campus will miss her. ” Ms. Gray admits that she will miss being on campus each day. “I’ll really miss serving as adviser to the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Pre-Alumni Council. I traveled often with the students, and it was always such a joy to work with them.”Fortunately, she promises to maintain contact. She is a member of the board of the National Alumni Association, the secretary for the Tuscaloosa chapter, secretary of the Stillman Tiger Varsity Club, and a member of the Stillman Women’s Council—and she lives in walking distance of the campus. “I won’t be in my office every day,” she warns. “But after this many years, Stillman will always be a part of me.”