Scholarship honors late Sheriff Vaughner
Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
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The first Sheriff Willie Vaughner Memorial Scholarship Fund Musical held Saturday, June 29 at the Jackson-Steele Community Center in White Hall raised more than $500 to benefit a student from Calhoun or Central High School, as well as to inform the public of the history of the man in whose name it is given.
Spearheaded by Willetta Vaughner Dunning, daughter of the late Sheriff Vaughner, the event featured tributes from Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd, Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams, Lowndes County Commission Chairman Robert Harris, State Rep. David Colston, Mosses Mayor Walter Hill, Pastor W. Channing Jackson of Greater Kingdom Citadel in Selma, Lucy Vaughner, widow of the late sheriff, Minister Elijah Dunning, Elder Shawana Bell, Lady Alesha Jackson and the group Restored and Anointed. Dunning said her mother, Lucy, actually started a scholarship when Sheriff Vaughner passed way in 2007.
However, she said, the June 29 event marked the first time a scholarship fund musical was held in connection with it. She said the program was “spirit driven… what the Lord gave me to do to honor my dad.”
Dunning said Sheriff Vaughner was a great man, a great father, great to the church and a great leader who never minded helping anyone. She said his heart stopped while he was still in office (at the age of 58) after serving as sheriff for 14 years, a State Trooper for 14 years, teaching at the Trooper Academy in Selma, as well as serving in the Air Force for more than 20 years. “He was one of the first African American Troopers in the state of Alabama,” Dunning said. “He stayed here after going to get his education (including a masters degree from Troy University in criminal justice) to help the community.”
She said a contribution of about $250 has been made every year to the Wil-Low Dollars for Scholars Community Foundation in Vaughner’s name to benefit local students. However, she said, the family wants to give an actual scholarship to one graduating senior from Central High School or Calhoun High School.
Boyd said Vaughner left a “huge mark” on the county, that he provided “awesome services in many ways” and the scholarship fund musical is “a celebration of the legacy” Vaughner left behind to the county.
“Anytime there is a scholarship for our students, I think it is a great thing,” Boyd said.
But he went on to say, more importantly was what the person for whom it is named meant to the county. “It’s one thing to have funds for a scholarship, but its another thing to live your life a certain way when you give and you serve people and that’s what he stood for.” Sheriff Williams said the late Sheriff Vaughner was a model to him.
Harris called the program a “happy occasion” because “somebody, somewhere is going to be able to benefit from this, and we can say that we helped somebody.” He called for the scholarship fund musical to be bigger and better every time it is held. Rep. Colston, a former Trooper himself, said Vaughner was a “mentor” to him.
He said he hoped that from the scholarship “maybe we can get more kids from the community into law enforcement.” Lucy Vaughner said her late husband “believed that education was the key to opening closed doors.”
Pastor Jackson said he believed the scholarship fund was worth “sowing into” and called for seeding into the fund as children with baskets took up a collection. Hill said Vaughner was “energetic” in the call to service and “envisioned greatness for this county.” Vaughner left behind a wife, four children and two grandchildren. In addition to Willetta Vaughner Dunning and her mother, Lucy Vaughner, the family includes her sisters and brother Alicia Vaughner, Nicole Guy and Justin Vaughner and Sheriff Vaughner’s grandchildren Alana and Julius Vaunado. Dunning said donation checks and money orders may be made payable to the “Willie Vaughner Scholarship Fund” through the end of the school year. Donations can be mailed to Willetta Dunning at Post Office Box 244, Hayneville, AL, 36040.