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| An Alumni
Hall of Honor
East High School, Memphis, Tennessee
— HONOR —
|The East High crest, designed by a former student, symbolizes the standards and goals of our school. In the center of the crest are the letters EHS, standing for East High School, with our mascot, the Mustang, on each side. Above the letters are a book and torch signifying scholarship; and beneath is the word "Honor," a foundation for all our efforts. - From the East High Student Handbook, circa 1961|
AlumniMr. Kirk Fordice (Class of 1952)
Two term governor 1992-2000
State of Mississippi
An obituary is available.
Kirk Fordice was a student leader at East High School, serving as student government president and student commander of the ROTC battalion. He attended Purdue University and obtained his Master of Science degree in
Industrial Administration in 1957. Mr. Fordice then served in the U.S. Army (1957-59) and remained in the US Army Reserves (1959-77). After moving to Mississippi, he became a self-made millionaire through his Fordice Construction Co. in Vicksburg. He upset incumbent Democrat Ray Mabus in 1991 to become Mississippi's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He was reelected in 1995. Governor Fordice was described by friends and associates as the consummate alpha male during his eight years in office - loud, gruff and domineering. After he completed his second term, he told a reporter, "Frankly I don't miss being inside politics. It has often been called an ugly, dirty game, and in many ways it is."
"He will go down for being a business governor and for creating an environment in this state, a pro-business environment that saw the greatest economic growth in the history of the state," the director of the state Department of Economic and Community Development told The Commercial Appeal in 2000.
Jim Ingram, who served as head of the Highway Patrol during Fordice's two terms.
"He was a man of integrity and he expected integrity and honesty from those he appointed," said Jim Ingram, who headed the Mississippi Highway Patrol during Mr. Fordice's two terms.
It is believed that serving as governor is the highest publicly elected executive office ever held by an East High alumnus. That, and the fact he was the first of his party to be elected to the Mississippi legislature in 100 years and his reelection to a second term, qualifies Mr. Fordice for inclusion in our Hall of Honor.
Mr. Fordice died in 2004.
The East High Alumni Page respects that many of our faculty and staff were exceptional in their profession and in their personal integrity. Since it would be difficult to recognize by name all of those here, we limit this listing to those who seem to have shined more brightly even among those many stars.
Mr. Joel P. Snider
East High Principal
East's first principal
An obituary is available.
A Hall of Honor for those who were closely associated with East High School could not begin without this first entry for Joel P. Snider, a Virginia gentleman, for whom honor was a virtue serving as one of his personal foundations.
It has been 70 years since Mr. Snider took the helm of the new city high school at Poplar Avenue and Holmes Street and 54 years since he was taken from us.
"In his sixteen years at East Mr. Snider became a steadfast standard by which so many graduates have patterned their lives but which few have equaled and none have surpassed." (Mustang, 1965)
Despite the magnificent accomplishments of many graduates of East High School, it is doubted that any who knew Mr. Snider would challenge the above comment.
This man became a revered legend during his time at East High. Parents and students spoke about him literally in reverential tones. He lead East High School to the forefront of academic excellence, setting an example that would persist many years after his untimely death.
A Virginia gentleman, polished and sophisticated, with the Virginia accent, he expected the best of those at East High and it seems no one who ever faced him wanted to disappoint him.
Joel P. Snider was a product of the oldest free public high school in the United States of America, S. Y. M. S. — Eaton Academy in Hampton, Virginia. From there he went to Hampton High, then to the University of Virginia where he was a member of the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa. After college, his first teaching job was at Memphis University School. He followed that as an English teacher at Tredwell, then he taught languages at Humes High. His career with Memphis City Schools continued as he became principal of Leroy Pope School, moving later to take the top position at Snowden Junior High. He was principal there when appointed to lead East High.
To the first graduating class (1951) of East High, Mr. Snider wrote that he trusted that they had acquired "something of the great-fundamentals of learning." Mr. Snider continued by expressing his hope for each graduate: "[A]nd he has become more keenly aware, I hope, of the great principals of honesty, fairness, and courtesy."
Honesty, fairness, and courtesy along with expectations that each person would do their very best well describes Mr. J.P. Snider.
Mr. Snider mixed fun with the work of the school day. He wrote, "most students should enjoy their school years. We sincerely hope that East High School students find happiness, as well as intellectual and ethical instruction, within its walls." Mr. Snider himself enjoyed watching athletic events, especially football. His Jaguar automobile was also a little beyond what the typical school principal drove.
Tragically, this fine man's life was ended prematurely, when on July 30, 1964, a traffic mishap not far from Pickwick Lake took him away from us.
Mr. Earl Spiller
Miss Rose Parkinson
Miss Parkinson came to East in 1949 after serving as principal at Gordon Elementary School in Memphis. She spent 43 years in the city school system, capping her career at East. Her initial title was assistant principal, but her duties always were, working closely with the high school principal, to be the administrator of the elementary. Within a few years her title was changed to elementary principal. She retired in 1972 as school pairing resulted in the closing of East Elementary School.
East High Custodian
An obituary is available.
Mr. Spiller took a new school, which initially was still under construction, and supervised the physical upkeep and operation until he retired in 1966. He was a hands on guy, not only supervising crews but doing much of the work himself. It was a large task that he accomplished well. Mr. Spiller was likely on call, perhaps on duty would be the more apt description, twenty-four seven, as we say today, since he lived in a house on the East High campus (remember that?). It may not be common to significantly recognize physical facility management but we hope doing so here indicates the integral part of East High that Mr. Spiller was and the appreciation for him.
If one talks to alumni about Mr. Spiller, one will hear how he helped them, perhaps when they broke something and were terrified of the consequences. Others will speak of him as an "authority figure" important in his leadership role at the school. Perhaps the significance of Mr. Spiller's tenure at East High is best recorded by the fact the 1966 yearbook expressed appreciation with the following tribute:
"For seventeen and a half years Mr. Spiller loyally served both the students and faculty of East as chief custodian. His tireless efforts made the efficient functioning of our school possible during these years; but, since his retirement in January, he has been remembered even more as a dear friend, personally interested in each student and his needs. Mr. Spiller and his friendly smile will long be missed in the halls of East. From his example we can learn much, for he has shown by his life the truth of the statement "Act well your part, there all the honor lies."
Mr. Everett D. Woods
Designed East High School
The school grandly sits on top of a hill at Poplar and Holmes, looking from a distance more like a small, wealthy college campus than a high school. -- The Commercial Appeal, 1982.
Given this is a Hall of Honor for those associated with East High School, the above newspaper goes a long way towards qualifying Mr. Woods for inclusion here. Perhaps the conclusive fact is observed when one walks into the front door of the school and sees the foyer.
Everett Woods designed numerous buildings and homes, some described as mansions, in Memphis, and the mid-south.Three very notable projects for which Everett D. Woods is credited as chief architect are East High, of course, the city's (and one of the nation's) first shopping centers, Poplar Plaza, and the private home that is now the headquarters of Harrah's Corporation on Cherry Road just south of Park Avenue. Woods is also listed as the architect for Scates Hall at the University of Memphis. You may read more about Everett Woods at The Architecture of East High School.
Mrs. Margaret Taylor
East High math teacher
Mrs. Margaret Taylor began teaching junior high math at East in 1955 and continued commanding the classroom and halls until 1969. She then became a renouned principal at Grahamwood Elementary. After retirement she returned to East High to help direct the tutoring program founded by The East High Foundation. In 2007 this publication wrote, "she turned 90 in November... but does not miss a day helping The Greater East High Foundation in its peer-to-peer tutoring program at the school." During her math teacher days, Mrs. Taylor was a force to be reckoned with in the annex, the nearly exclusive territory of the junior high pupils at East, or anywhere else in the school for that matter. To be a successful teacher with rambunctious children becoming teenagers, one had to bestow discipline in the classroom and Mrs. Taylor did that, as well as in the hallways, lunchroom, wherever she went. After more than a decade at East, Mrs. Taylor became the principal of Grahamwood Elementary School, taking it to national fame. She retired in 1995 but not for long. Mrs. Taylor went on to work as a substitute principal for six years and supervisor of student teachers at the University of Memphis for four years. When The Greater East High Foundation was established by Chas McVean ('61), he called on Mrs. Taylor to be its founding director. She cut back her duties, becoming director-emeritus, but she still put in full days four days a week helping tutor the pupils and guiding others in their efforts to help raise the academic and behavioral levels at East High.
For her dedication and success as a teacher, administrator, and a volunteer in Memphis City Schools, the Shelby County Schools inducted Mrs.Taylor into its Hall of Fame in 2005. Mrs. Taylor was a 1935 graduate of Messick High School, which at the time was a Shelby County school.
Mrs. Taylor died May 17, 2015. An obituary is available.