Friday, July 19, 2013

Juan A. Ponder

Juan A. Ponder was the first born to Mattie Lewis Ponder and Joe Davis Ponder in McDonough, Georgia on August 17, 1938. He graduated from Henry County Training School in 1956. He then attended Correspondence School at Albany State Military Academy.

Senior Master Sergeant, Juan Ponder enlisted in the United States Air Force in October 1956 and retired October 1976, after serving 20 years. He did his basic training in 1956 at Lackland Air force Base in Texas. Juan went on to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for his technical training. He studied to become an aircraft mechanic at NCO Preparatory School and graduated second in his class. Juan served in Vietnam for three and one half years as a helicopter mechanic. In addition, he worked as a Para rescue trooper saving many lives in the jungle. He fell behind enemy lines once to be rescued by Korean soldiers. His unit only lost one helicopter and was honored with the Purple Heart Medal. During his service, Juan traveled extensively throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. In 1960 as flight crew chief, his aircraft escorted the Russian Prime Minister Khrushchev to the United States.
Juan worked for the Henry County Board of Education as an Auto and Bus Mechanic from 1980 until his retirement on August 17, 2006. He was a member of Wesley Chapel Methodist Church all his life. Juan faithfully served in several leadership positions until his health began to fail which included President of the Usher Board, Chairman of Trustees, Secretary of the Administrative Counsel, President of United Methodist Men and served on the District and Conference level. He was also a member of the Locust Grove Masonic Lodge #573 and an Adjutant of American Legion Post 516. Juan will be remembered for his bravery, dedication, commitment, and true walk as a spiritual soldier.
He was a great family man and the father of 12 children. I can truly say the little boy on the picture grew to be a magnificent man and I am honored to share his story with the world.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Randall Ponder

I am so excited to finally to on the faces. I have already mentioned that this picture was taken in 1943, so I want to fast forward to tell you what became of all four of the children on this picture.

Randall Ponder was the first face that I tackled on the quilt. He was born on August 24, 1940. As you can see from the picture, he was very tall for his age. He was the second born of Mattie Ruth Lewis Ponder and Joe Davis Ponder. He graduated from Henry County Training School in 1957. He was a 1961 graduate of Clark College and went on to earn his Masters of Education from the University of Georgia in 1968.

He joined Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in his youth. While attending Clark College, he was an active member of Flipper Temple AME in Atlanta. He was an active member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity after pledging at Clark College. When he returned home from college, he joined Mount Olive Baptist Church.

Randall began his professional educational career in 1961 as a classroom teacher at Henry County School System as Adult Education Teacher, School Social Worker/Visiting Teacher, FTE Coordinator, Facilities Assistant, Coordinator of Adult and Community Education, High School Principal, Special Eduation Coordinator, Federal Programs Director, Personnel Coordinator, and Athletic Director/Head Coach for Football, Basketball, and Track.

Of the many jobs he held in the school system, I think the Principal position was the most controversial. It was the year 1971, and Henry County was on the brink of being integrated. Henry County claimed to not have enough money to build a new school. The school on the black side of town proved to be large enough to accommodate the size of the merged schools. The two schools were merged and the white children were bused to our side of town.  It was amazing how fast Henry County found the land and the money to build a new school back across town in the white neighborhood.

I said all that to say that Randall Ponder was the first African-American principal to lead the newly integrated Henry County Senior High School in McDonough. He served as Principal for about 15 years.
He was the father of three sons and G-Daddy to a host of grandchildren.

The honor is all mine. This quilt will be a treasure for a long time to come.