From time to time, the Athens Daily News/Banner-Herald profiles an individual that has been an integral and important part of Athens' history during the past century. Howard B. Stroud Sr. has been one of those outstanding people.
Howard Stroud has a resume that, single-spaced, covers two pages just for organizations he has served on to better his community and for awards and recognitions he has received. He has not only been an educator and counselor all his adult life, but has been deeply involved in his church as a deacon. His experiences with the integration of the schools in Clarke County are part of the history of our nation.
Hails from: Athens-born and -bred.
School days: Union Baptist Institute; Morehouse College, B.A. in psychology; Atlanta University, A.M. in education management; University of Georgia and Appalachian State University for further study.
Union Baptist Institute: This was a private school run under the auspices of a conglomerate of Baptist Churches called the Jereul Association. It was also a boarding school hosting boys and girls from all over the state. It later became part of Burney Harris School when the Clarke County school system was formed.
Family tradition: My parents and grandparents attended school there, and my grandfather was on the trustee board. My other grandfather was a member of the Jereul Association. Parents thought Union Baptist, with its strong religious background, was where we would get the proper education they wanted us to have.
Parents: My father, George Stroud Sr., now deceased, was a barber at the shop on Jackson Street. He later became an insurance agent, and then one of the first bus drivers in the Clarke County School District. My mother, Emma Flanigan Stroud, also deceased, stayed home and raised her children.
Siblings: I have three brothers and two sisters, all living. My two sisters live in New York. My three brothers, George, Charles and Melvin, all live in Athens.
Children: son, Howard Jr., 32, a musician whose band, Ultrasound, plays in church and for weddings; a daughter Kesha, 25, working to become a chef.
Brooklyn community: This area was where my parents and grandparents lived -- Hawthorne Avenue, Oglethorpe Avenue and back toward Alps Road.
Church: I was born a Baptist and belong to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.
Morehouse College: I majored in psychology and minored in education. I'd entered as a pre-med student, but after spending two years in the service during the Korean conflict, I changed my major. I had five other siblings who were in school -- we all went to college -- and I didn't want to spend so much time in medical school and be accused of using up all the resources.
Career choice: I came back in March of 1956. I anticipated going into clinical psychology, but I filled in for a teacher and I kind of liked what I was doing. For my niche in life, I wanted to serve my fellow man, and teaching was another way of serving. I stayed in education, and I've never regretted it.
Teaching career: I first taught in the school from which I graduated, Union Baptist Institute. In 1957 the county and city school systems merged into Clarke County School District and the school changed its name to Burney Harris High, now Burney Harris Lyons Middle School.
Job history: An educator for 36 years -- Clarke County associate superintendent, acting superintendent, coordinator of middle and secondary schools, principal of Lyons Middle School, counselor and assistant principal at Lyons, teacher at Burney Harris High, teacher at Union Institute.
Henry Spurgeon Lyons: Henry Spurgeon Lyons was my principal at Union Institute. I knew him, and we had quite a relationship. He was tough, very tough. Actually, he lived before his time and was quite a visionary. We had to learn Latin and Greek, and Lyons instituted advanced courses that the public schools didn't even have at the time.
Community-minded: My interest in community work started when I first came back to Athens as a teacher. I lived by the philosophy that you don't need to ask somebody else why certain things don't happen; instead, get yourself involved to make things happen. This is my community, so I do what I can do to make it better.
Organizations: (a partial list of several pages): chairman and/or board of directors for Athens Regional Library, American Cancer Society, Athens Morehouse Alumni club, Athens Symphony, Morton Theatre Corp., St. Mary's Hospital Fund Drive, Sandy Creek Nature Center, Athens Family Counseling, United Way, Athens Regional Medical Authority, Athens Technical Institute, Classic Center Authority, Athens Retired Teachers Association.
Awards and recognitions (a partial list): Teacher of the Year 1960; Who's Who in Black America, Who's Who in South and Southwest, Who's Who in America, a street named in his honor by Clarke County Commission; J.W. Fanning Humanitarian Award, 1996; Inspiration Award from Family Council on Aging 1999; The Howard B. Stroud Leadership Award established by Foundation for Excellence in Education, 1987; Western Judicial Circuit Liberty Bell Award, 1984; Morehouse Alumnus of the Year, 1987; Leadership Award, Athens Retired Teachers, 1995-96.
For fun: I like to travel, love sports, love reading. I live by the philosophy that you can see more history than you can ever read.
Most proud: It still makes me very proud to come in contact with students with whom I've served directly or indirectly, and find they are doing well. And some say thank you, and that is one of the greatest rewards.
Bettye: I knew Bettye Moore for a long time here in Athens. She was a media specialist at Barnett Shoals Elementary School. After the death of my first wife, Bettye and I established a relationship which just blossomed from there. We saw each other for about a year before we married quietly before only immediate family on Dec. 16, 1989.
Athens: I'd traveled other places, but Athens is the place I wanted to hang my hat. I'm very pleased to see the changes that have come about in Athens, and I'm very excited to see many of our minority students who once went away to find jobs, now make Athens their home -- Mike Thurmond, Keith Heard, Ferris Johnson, Jr.
Civil rights movement: I was very much involved in the civil rights movement. Many things went on here that involved civil rights and the integration of schools in Clarke County. There were interesting and trying experiences. From segregation to integration there are so many things that I remember so vividly -- some good and some bad. I remember the flexibility the students had and the inflexibility of some of the adults. It was funny how good things happened when a student would take the lead, telling the adults to leave them alone, and letting them work it out.
Retirement: Now I'm serving on a number of boards for the community. I just don't think I'm ready to quit yet.
School system: Clarke County has a very strong one, but the public school system is somewhat like the Statue of Liberty -- give me your poor, your tired, your hungry. That's what public schools do. They don't have a choice who comes and who does not. They must address the needs of all people regardless, and that's quite a challenge.
Philosophy: Give all that you can give, and whatever that is, it will come back to you. And give to make things better for other people. Some things come back directly, and some indirectly, like giving for a better community that impacts everyone positively.
Story last updated at 9:07 a.m. on Sunday, September 26, 1999