Dr. Barbara Anthony Wright

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Class of 1960. Dr. Wright began her career in nursing in 1966 when she completed the LPN program at Dixie Hospital School of Practical Nursing. After working for eight years as an LPN, Dr. Wright decided to enroll at Thomas Nelson Community College and graduated in 1973 with an ASN.

Dr. Wright continued her employment at Hampton General Hospital in the operating room as staff nurse. Dr. Wright was hired as Staff Nurse in 1974 in the operating room at the Veterans Hospital. During her employment at the Veterans Hospital, Dr. Wright received her B.S. degree in 1979 and her Masters Degree in 1989 from Hampton Institute/University while raising three children and working full-time.

Positions held by Dr. Wright during her employment includes staff nurse, nurse manager surgical unit, supervisor in the operating room, and Associate Chief Nurse.

Dr. Wright’s career in teaching began in 1991 at Troy State University in Montgomery, Alabama as adjunct faculty. Upon retirement from VAMC in Montgomery, Dr. Wright was employed at Hampton University where she worked for twelve years.

While employed at Hampton University she received another degree as Doctor of Education. Dr. Wright also taught two years at Norfolk State University. Dr. Wright returned to Hampton University in January 2010 as the Chair of the Department of Undergraduate Nursing Education and retied in May 2012.

Dr. Wright also served 16 years in the U. S. Army reserves. Her highest rank was major. Primary roles in the reserves were NBC officer and head nurse in the operating room. Among many of

Dr. Wright's volunteer services include an active member of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple where she proudly serves as an usher at the 7:00 a.m. service and a member of the Healthcare Ministry. 

William David Pearson

Class of 1962. David, as he is known by his friends, has excelled in the field of education as a teacher, principal and member of the Hampton City School Board. His classmates say he has been one of the stalwarts who have kept the Phenix Spirit alive at reunion and alumni activities.

After graduation from Phenix he attended Hampton Institute where he received a B. A. in 1966 with a Major in Biology and Minor in Chemistry. In 1973 he would receive his M. A. from Hampton Institute in Secondary Education and Certification in Supervision and Administration.

After graduating from Hampton Institute he served two years in the Army from 66-68 as Pharmacy Assistant and Laboratory Technician at DeWitt Army Hospital, Ft. Belvoir, VA. Upon his return to Hampton be began teaching in 1969 as a Life Science and Earth Science teacher at Thorpe Jr. High.

That would be the beginning of a steller career as he quickly rose to assistant principal positions at Thorpe Jr. High, Jones Jr. High, Eaton Fundamental School, Kecoughtan High School, and then he became principal at Davis Middle School and Bethel High School. At Davis he selected the first female assistant principal on the middle school level.

While at Davis Middle School, under his leadership, the school became a Vanguard School by the Virginia Department of Education.  He was selected as principal of the Year by the Hampton Council of PTA’s in 1999.

He served as president of both the Peninsula District and Eastern Region Principals Association. He received the Flame Bearer of Education Award by the United Negro College Fund. Mr. Pearson retired from the Hampton School System in 2000 with 32 years of service.

He then served for the Virginia State Department of Education as a consultant evaluating public schools. He served for the Hampton School System as Teacher Recruiter. He served as Assistant Director for the NASA Langley Pre-service Teacher Program and served as coordinator of the Summer Institute.

In 2007 he was appointed by the Hampton School Board to fill an unexpired term. He was then re-elected in 2008 and 2012, having been selected as Vice-Chairman his final two years. In 2016 he decided not to seek re-election.

He is married to Elaine and they have four grown children. 

Henry Livas, Jr.

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Class of 1956. After graduation he received his B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from Bucknell University. He is retired from N.A.S.A. Langley and Civil Service as of 1998 after serving 35 years in Government Service in the Facility Systems Engineering Division.

Henry specialized as Naval Facilities Engineering, Command Executive, in Management Development, and achieved as a Level I Contracting Officer (5M award Authority). Prior to his many engineering positions, he served as a 2nd Lt. in the US Army Artillery. He later achieved the rank of captain in the reserves.

At Phenix High School he was the number one ranking member of the 1st Phenix tennis team 1954-1956. He won numerous tournaments sponsored by the Virginia Interscholastic Association and the American Tennis Association.

In 1955 and 1956 he won the VIA Championship in singles and doubles. He and his partner, “Billy” Neilson won ATA National Doubles and with Clara Henry in Texas he won the 1955 ATA National Junior Mixed Doubles Championship.

He played 4 years varsity tennis and 1 year freshman basketball. He won over 100 trophies and tennis. Five of his wins were over a younger Arthur Ashe. Later he competed locally to win many tournaments in the men of 35 division of tennis in Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

For eight years he served on the Virginia Beach Planning Commission. He has received numerous honors, awards and appointment in the State of Virginia. Appointed by the Governor of Virginia to serve on the Virginia Minority Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee. Past president of the 300 member Norfolk Area Chapter of the National Contract Management Association.     

Marjorie Hopson Vance

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Marjorie Hopson Vance is a member of the Class of 1961 at George P. Phenix High School.  

This accomplished singer has performed around the world. Upon graduating from Phenix, she received a scholarship to attend the Cincinnati Conservatory. Ms. Vance, however, decided to attend Hampton Institute (Hampton University) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Minor in Music.  

While at Hampton Institute she had the very good fortune to study under Dr. Henry Switten, a fantastic voice teacher. Dr. Switten helped to develop her untrained voice, giving her a vocal technique so secure that she was able to sing some of the most difficult arias written for a lyric-coloratura soprano.

After graduating from Hampton Institute in 1965, Ms. Vance moved to New York City and studied voice with Carolina Segrera and Edward Boatner. Subsequently, she auditioned for and received a one year contract with a touring company in Switzerland to sing Bess and Clara in “Porgy and Bess.” She moved to the Vienna State Opera House in Vienna, Austria, where she was the first African-American permanent soloist in the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera House.

Ms. Vance sang professionally for three decades in Austria and in Germany, performing with such world famous conductors as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Herbert von Karajan, Karl Boehm, Daniel Barenboim, and Claudio Abbado. Among the world famous singers with which she performed were Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Simon Estes, Thomas Hampson, and Edita Gruberova.  Also, she attended the Vienna Conservatory of Music for opera and studied voice with Hilde Gueden and Hilde Zadek.

Ms. Vance was the winner of the International Opera Competition in Vienna, Austria, as well as the winner of the Mozart Prize at the Concours International de Chant de Paris (France). 

Among her recordings are: Vivaldi’s “Serenata a tre;” soundtrack of the movie “Moliere;” Great Baroque Masters;  Krenek’s opera “Karl V;” Richard Strauss’ operas “Frau Ohne Schatten” and “Ariadne auf Naxos;” Bizet’s “Carmen;” and the Unitel film ”Electra.” 

Cephus S. Rhodes

Cephus S. Rhodes, LTC, USA, RET. From being raised in Apalachicola, FL, to moving to Phoebus as a  teenager to live with relatives, this 1948 graduate of Phenix High School, who was on the cheer squad and in the choir, has lived a life of service to his country and his community.

In 1948 he received a scholarship to attend Hampton Institute and graduated in 1953 with a degree in Biology and Chemistry and a commission as an Army 2nd Lt. At Hampton he was into boxing, wrestling, swimming, dancing, choirs and cheer squad. After college he went into the army for three years and then to Med School.

He then decided to make the Army a career where he stayed for 22 years. During his distinguished career he commanded at every level including Battalion and supervised staff at every level including the US Army Europe. During his tour of duty he received many medals including the Purple Heart; Bronze Star; National Defense Service Medal;  Air Medal, and many more.

After retirement he then went to work as a computer specialist at Ft. Bliss Army base in Texas. He then worked for 17 years at El Paso Corp, the largest natural gas pipeline company in the US.

In 1993 he was convinced to get in politics and won a seat on the city council. He was appointed four times by three Texas governors to serve on State Boards.

In 1992 he was honored by the Hampton University Alumni Association with the Alumni Merit Award.

This Kappa Alpha Psi frat and Ordained Baptist Deacon has finally retired for good and spends his time as an active member of his church and choir, and the Chamber of Commerce. 

Edward Morris Gilchrist

Edward Morris Gilchrist, born and raised in Laurel Hill, North Carolina, his family moved to Hampton because of racial unrest in the community. Eddie graduated from Phenix High School in 1958. While at Phenix he sang in the choir, played football, basketball, and was active member of the Student Council.

He enrolled at Hampton Institute where he majored in History/Social Science Education. He was a member of the ROTC Program and after graduation was commissioned into the Army’s new military Intelligence branch.

His first duty station was Washington, D.C. He also received a MBA Degree from Central Michigan University. While in the Military for twenty-eight years, Eddie was Commander of three military intelligence units; Deputy Commander for two units; Instructor for the Army Command and Staff College and worked with several foreign county military units. He also helped with diplomatic protection during the John F. Kennedy Funeral. At the culmination of his military career, he had achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel.  

His community involvement is commendable. He is a board member of the Richmond City Clean City Commission; Voluntary Advisory Board for the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center; 100 Black Men; Virginia Education Association; Richmond Chapter of the Hampton University Alumni Association; and many others. He was an Ordained Deacon at Antioch Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.   

Jo Shuler

Jo Shuler was born and reared in Hampton, Virginia. After attending Dixie Hospital School of Practical Nursing, she went on to University of VA School for Operating Room Technicians. She was on the developmental committee for surgical technicians to be nationally recognized and was in the first group of Surgical Technologists to be nationally certified in her profession.

While enjoying a nursing career of over 20 years as a LPN Certified Surgical Technologist specializing in Orthopedics, she began her part time Mary Kay career in March 1982.  Eighteen months later, she began to pursue Mary Kay on a full-time basis, earning the use of her first career car in 1985.  

The opportunity to mentor women in developing their individual Mary Kay careers was realized when Jo became an Independent Sales Director in August 1986.  She was personally trained by Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay, Inc. Within 12 months her unit had earned 2 Pink cars – the Buick and Cadillac.  

She is an Independent Senior Sales Director with 2 first line off spring Directors.  The Millionaire Soaring Eagles have been the #1 unit in Virginia twice and recognized as a top unit nationwide.  Her Unit has earned 16 Mary Kay career cars and is currently driving their 14th Pink Cadillac.

Jo has consistently been recognized for her sales, motivation and leadership skills.  She is frequently asked to travel nationwide educating and mentoring the next generation of leaders.  The Millionaire Soaring Eagles have been responsible for over 10 million dollars in retail sales since 1986 with consultants in 21 States and in over 50 cities in America. 

In addition to her Mary Kay career, Jo volunteers with the Transitions Program in Hampton as a resource person mentoring women in the program who are the victims of domestic violence. She is a member of George P. Phenix High Alumni Association.  

Jo is married. She and her husband, Ernie are the very proud parents of two daughters and one son and grandparents of four grandsons, one granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.  Jo is also a breast cancer survivor.  They are members of Bethel Temple Assembly of God Church in Hampton.

Dr. Arlington Chisman Jr.

Mr. Chisman received his B. S. Degree in Industrial Management and his M. Ed. in Industrial Education from Virginia State University. He received his Ph. D. in Vocational Technical Education from Ohio State University. In 1965 he became the Industrial Arts Instructor at Phenix High School. He then spent two years in Sierra Leone, Africa as a Building Construction Instructor.

In 1974 he became Director, Vocational Education, Hampton City Schools, where he was responsible for Secondary School programs in Trade and Industrial Education Home Economics, Distributive Education, Business and Office Education, and Industrial Arts Education for 9,350 students.

In 1977 he became Chairman/Professor, Department of Industrial Technology at North Carolina A&T State University where he was in charge of B. S. Degree Programs, Automotive Technology, Construction Management, Electronic Technology and Manufacturing Technology.

His honors include Education Professions Development Act Fellowship for Doctorial Program, Ohio State University; Professor Emeritus, North Carolina A&T State University; and Virginia State University Alumni, Distinguished Honoree. 

During his career he has served as an Adjunct/Lecturer and produced numerous papers on Vocation Education and Industrial Technology. He is a member of Phi Delta Kappa and Epsilon Tau.  

Patricia Nottingham Dzandu

Patricia Nottingham Dzandu, DNP RN PMHCNS-BS, Class of 1966, is currently an Advanced Practice Nurse/Adult Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Hampton.

She provides cognitive behavioral, individual, family and group psychotherapy services in the Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Outpatient Clinic with collateral roles in accreditation, consultation, education, informatics, quality improvement and research. She considers it an honor to provide nursing care to our nation’s Veterans who “borne the battle honorably for our freedoms.” 

Dr. Dzandu received a BSN degree from Hampton Institute and holds a Master of Arts degree in Community Psychology from University of New Haven; Nursing Executive Certificate from Wharton School of Business; Master of Science degree in Psychiatric   Nursing with a role concentration in Nursing Administration from Texas Women’s University and the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from George Washington University.

Doug Smith

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Doug Smith, class of 1960, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of successful achievement as an editor and writer with three of the most influential newspapers in the United States – Newsday, The New York Post and USA Today.

During his career he was recognized as one of the world’s preeminent and influential tennis writers. He covered the Grand Slams – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U. S. Open.

Smith routinely broke news in the tennis world. His 1992 world exclusive on the late Arthur Ashe having contracted AIDS promoted years of useful discourse in newsrooms, as well as in the nations’ journalism schools.

In recognition of his sustained excellence in tennis reporting and writing, Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U. S. Tennis Association Lifetime Achievement Award (1988).

In 1992, he edited and updated Ashe’s three-volume book, Hard Road To Glory: A History of the Black Athlete in America. In a collaborative effort with former tennis pro Zina Garrison, Smith wrote her autobiography, Zina, My Life in Women’s Tennis, published in 2001. 

Pastor Willie F. Wilson

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Pastor Willie F. Wilson, born in Newport News, and ordained Nana Kwadwo Boafo I, a Wolof Priest in the Gambia, West Africa, is very much at home in Anacostia where for the past 31 years he has been pastor at Union Temple Baptist Church.

Pastor Wilson received his Bachelor Degree in Journalism from Ohio University and Masters Degree in Doctoral Studies from Howard University.

In Asankrangwa, West Ghana he was inducted as a sub-chief by the Asankare-Bretuo as NANA KWADWO BOAFO I, and with this honor he has the  uttermost credence to perform any and all ceremonies relating to African people.

In 1986, Pastor Wilson was recognized by USA Today Newspaperas one of the 10 most valuable people in America. Reverend Wilson has counseled with African Heads of State and has married African kings and queens of the universe.

In 1997 Pastor Wilson and Union Temple Baptist Church were awarded the PRESIDENT’S SERVICE AWARD by President Bill Clinton. This is the most prestigious Presidential recognition given for community service.

Geraldine Courtney

Class of 1950 is a graduate of Virginia State College (VSU) and Columbia University. She began her professional career as a teacher at her former grade school, Aberdeen Elementary. She later became an Assistant Principal and a Principal.

She was appointed Hampton’s first Director of Elementary Education. She was a Critic Teacher at Hampton University.

 She was nominated by her peers and was selected Virginia’s National Distinguished Principal by members of the National Principals Association.

She was recognized as an Outstanding Educator by the Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly. 

Princess Robinson Facen

Colonel, USA (Ret), class of 1966 was a Cheerleader and a member of the Modern Dance Group while at Phenix. She received her Associate in Applied Science Nursing Degree from Thomas Nelson Community College in 1972; and in 1978, her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing from Hampton University.

After working in the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital for eight years, she joined the Army Nurse Corps, subsequently serving 28 years and obtaining the rank of Colonel. During this period she obtained a masters degree in Health Care Administration from Central Michigan University, 1984; a Masters in Nursing Administration and a Certificate in Nursing Education from George Mason University in 1990.

She held various executive levels, supervisory and managerial positions while serving in the U.S. and abroad to include Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; 121st Evacuation Hospital, Korea; Hanau Health Clinic, Germany; Task Force Med Eagle, Bosnia Herzegovina; Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii; and the Combat Support Hospital in Honduras. 

Emory Turner

Emory was affectionately known as Shug. He had a charismatic character and always had a smile on his face. Shug graduated with honors from Phenix High School in 1956 and was voted the most outstanding student by his peers.

Shug, along with a handful of students, set a historical precedence as the first “Negro” students to take the National College Entrance Examination. He was the first recipient of the J. Dett Marshburn Scholarship. He was awarded a full academic scholarship to Purdue University but he elected instead to accept a full athletic scholarship to play football.

Shug taught Biology and Physical Education as well as coached football and track Phenix. In 1968 his football team won the V. I. A. Eastern District Football Championship and he was named the V. I. A. Coach of the Year. 

He served as Assistant Principal at Caroline High School; principal at King George Middle School; Vice Chairman of Spotsylvania County School Board, Assessor for George Mason University; and the State Local Health benefits Advisory Board (appointed by Virginia Governors Wilder and Baliles).

Celestine Wynder Carter

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Class of 1953, received her B.S. degree from Hampton Institute, and her M.Ed. degree from Boston University. She credits the years at Phenix as providing her the quality experiences necessary for her success in life. She has been described as a community activist and educator.

During the years of teaching, she enriched the lives of hundreds of young people at Huntington and Warwick High Schools in Newport News, VA. 

After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. she and the late Rev. Cornelius Fauntleroy initiated the largest community march ever to be held in Newport News.

In 1993 she became actively involved in the local NAACP branch and was later elected as the first female president. 

Olivia James Cherry

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Class of 1946, received a certificate from Cortez Peters Business School in Washington D. C. While in school she was selected to work at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

After working at the NLRB for years and no advancement in 1950 she moved to New York where she integrated the Accounts Department at R. H. Macy’s Department Store, the largest store in the world. This was before integration and she was the first black hired in any office position at Macy’s, paving the way for others to follow.

She later became the first black secretary to the president of the Lutheran Church of America, where he governed 180 pastors and their churches. 

Janice E. (Jay) Johnson

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Class of 1957, received a BA degree in Psychology from Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. and an MA in Guidance and Counseling from Hampton Institute.

Janice has spent most of her life working with and for young people. In professional Girl Scouting she rose through the ranks from field director to national staff member to Executive Director of Western Reserve Girl Scout Council in Akron, Ohio. She then moved back to Hampton where she was employed for 15 years with the City Of Hampton.

During her work with Hampton’s Citizens Unity Commission she cofounded the “Opening the Door to Diversity Book Group”. 


Dr. James E. Lassiter, Jr., DDS

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Class of 1951; had a key role in assisting Mrs. Etta Bright, then Band Director, organize the first marching band at Phenix.

In 1956 he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Howard University and received his Doctor of Dental Science Degree from the Howard University College of Dentistry. Dr. Lassiter continues to be actively involved in training students at the College of Dentistry in Newark and the Farleigh Dickenson University of Dentistry, to become highly qualified dentist.

Prior to becoming a consultant to the Colgate-Palmolive Company, the Head Start Program, the Job Corps, and the Medicaid Utilization and Review Committee, he was a consultant to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust. 

Alvin N. Puryear, PhD

Dr. Puryear was Valedictorian of the Class of 1955 and, as a member of three varsity teams, was awarded nine letters, a record at the time.

Dr. Puryear received a BA Degree from Yale University where he was a two-way tackle on the football team and a Ranking Scholar in Sociology. He received MBA and PhD degrees from Columbia University where he was both a Samuel Bronfman Fellow and a John Hay Whitney Fellow.

Until 2007, Dr. Puryear was the Lawrence N. Field Professor of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Management at Baruch College of the City University of New York.

During leaves-of-absence from Baruch College, Dr. Puryear served as a Vice-President of the Ford Foundation and First Deputy Comptroller of the City of New York.

Hugh Harrell III

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Class of 1962 - has ancestors who were Nottoway, Chickahominy, Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Cherokee, African and Irish. His heritage led him to co-found the Weyanoke Association for Red-Black History and Culture. The Association specializes in researching, collecting and disseminating information about peoples of African and Native descent.

Hugh is also a singer and co-founder of Legacy of Weyanoke, and a cappella vocal ensemble specializing in the music and stories of African Diaspora. He has toured with major performing organizations to North America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay and has performed with Handel’s Messiah as a soloist with the Phenix High School Choir and Hampton Institute Choir.

Copyright 2016, George P. Phenix High School.