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.

Linwood D. Harper

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Class of 1965 - Butch as he is affectionately known, has excelled at creating opportunities through sports to foster an environment for the youth to succeed.

In 1982 he co-founded the Aberdeen Athletic Association that started out with one team and ten kids. The program has grown to include 5 football teams, 5 cheerleading squads, 20 basketball teams and 6 baseball teams.The program now is known as Deen Ball Sports, Inc. and has over 100 coaches and 600-700 kids every year.

Mr. Harper served as Youth Director for the Boo Williams AAU Program for over twenty-five years. Mr. Harper serves as a member of the Hampton School Board and enthusiastically voted to support the naming of a new school after George P. Phenix. 

Barbara L. Johnson

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Class of 1968 - After graduating from Phenix, Ms. Johnson received her B. S. Degree in Pre-Med with concentration in Chemistry in 1975. She began her professional career as an analytical chemist and instrument engineer for Dow in Midland, Michigan. She then decided to go to law school and received her J. D from the College of William and Mary in 1984.

Ms. Johnson is a trial lawyer for Paul Hastings in Washington D. C., specializing in the representation of management in labor and employment litigation. Ms. Johnson’s current practice involves litigation in a number of areas, including civil rights discrimination, public law (municipalities and schools), environmental racism, and employment arbitrations.

Ms. Johnson routinely assists employers with workplace investigations, implementing affirmative action plans and diversity programs, and day to day employment law issues.

Charles A. Wynder

Class of 1959 - After graduating from Phenix he attended Florida A&M University, graduating with honors in Health and Physical Education. After teaching in the Hampton City School system for one year, Charles received his Masters of Arts Degree in School Administration from Hampton University in 1970 and became an Instructional Supervisor.

Mr. Wynder was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, United States Army in 1964. Subsequently, serving in numerous leadership and supervisory roles, one being the first black aide de Camp to the Deputy Commanding General US Army Communications Zone Europe.

He concluded his military career with the rank of Colonel, US Army. As a single parent, he and his three children were selected as the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Family of the Year.

His community work ranges from Boy Scouts, Peninsula Habitat for Humanity; Williamsburg James City County Community Services Board and Big Brothers – Big Sisters volunteer. 

Mark W. Clark, MD MPH

Dr. Clark, class of 1967 was known at Phenix High School as a studious person who was excelling in all that he was aspiring to do academically. When Dr Clark had completed most of his studies in Cardio Vascular Medicine, he came to the Peninsula area and joined the staff at Newport News General Hospital in addition to other hospitals in this area. His reputation and status as a Cardio-Vascular Surgeon and his ability to therapeutically manage cardiac pathology had preceded him. He brought a wealth of knowledge and advancement to the Newport News Hospital that helped elevate the level of health care practice and service to the Southeast Community. His Cardiology Team in addition to himself were, Dr V Francis, and Dr. D Ridley. They were a team of highly specialized physicians who all seemed to be well prepared and fluent in their practice of cardiovascular medicine. His Educational accomplishments includes Columbia University – 1970 – Bachelor of Arts; Harvard University; Doctor of Medicine and Masters in Public Health; Massachusetts Gen Hospital, Senior Assistant Resident, Medical College of Virginia, Cardiology Fellow. The designation of Fellow of The American College of Cardiology (FACC) represents recognition of high professional achievement in a cardiovascular subspecialty. 

Mr. Rudy Langford

Mr. Langford has a diverse professional career, having worked as an adjudicator and accountant, General Accounting Office Clerk, Circuit Court and Department of Corrections, Washington, DC Government; and Postmaster and Lecturer, Hampton University.

He worked for ten years with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, working directly under Hosea Williams, 1958-1968. Also, he worked in three presidential campaigns, Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and William “Bill” Clinton.

Mr. Langford has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, serving as President of the State Coalition for Justice for Civil Rights, the Hampton Tenants’ Association, and the Coalition for Good Government.

He is founder of over sixteen Civic Organizations, 1985-2005 and holds membership in the NAACP, SCLC, Urban League and Rainbow Coalition.

Mr. Langford is sometimes deemed as controversial in his activism. However, he may also be perceived as an “unsung hero.” This is because of his many acts of kindness, compassion and assistance, especially with the youth and senior citizens in the community. He willingly accepts this responsibility, but these services are largely unknown by the general public. 

Knox W. Tull, Jr

Mr. Tull, class of 1962, attended Hampton Institute where he spent two years. He then transferred to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where he received the BS degree in Civil Engineering in 1967. He received the MS degree in Civil Engineering in 1972 from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He has completed the Owner/President Management Program (OPM31) at the Harvard Business School in Boston, MA. Prior to forming his company, Knox worked as a bridge engineer in California and as a structural engineer in Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA. He has also served on the faculties of Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia. Knox is the President and CEO of Jackson and Tull an engineering and technology company founded in 1974 and based in the Washington, DC area. A noteworthy project is providing construction inspection services for the rehabilitation of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City. J&T has evolved into a 250-person, primarily aerospace company with offices in Albuquerque, NM; Houston, TX and Los Angeles, CA. The company provides engineering services and builds satellite instruments for NASA, the Air Force and other customers. A noteworthy project is the Hubble Space Telescope. J&T is a family business. Brenda Temple Tull is an officer and manager. Mossi is the Chief Operating Officer (COO). Nzinga, Kimathi and Hatshepsitu are managers and engineers. 

Jean Wooden Cunningham

Jean began her professional career as a junior high school teacher in Prince George County, Virginia. After a year, Jean relocated to New York and began working for IBM. After law school Jean began her legal career as a labor attorney with a three year stint with the Ford Motor Company and then continued her legal career with Reynolds Metals Company and Alcoa. She rose in the corporate ranks to the position of vice president and retired as vice president of human resources from Integris Metals. In 1986, Jean was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, 71st House District and served with distinction until 1998, always running unopposed. Among her numerous awards and public service includes Co-Chair, Governor Warner’s PASS Initiative; Outstanding Legislator Award Virginia Interfaith Center; NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award

Lillie Mae Johnson Jones

Lillie Mae (1950) was the president of her high school class and graduated from Dixie Hospital School of Practical Nursing in 1958. She retired from Langley AFB Hospital in 1994 where she was often recognized as the Civilian of the Quarter. She served as chairperson for the Licensed Practical Nurse group. She was instrumental in the hospital receiving an outstanding rating from the Air Force Health Services Management Inspection Team. She was selected as the 1st Tactical Fighter Wig Surgeon Civilian of the Year. Ms. Jones served 2 terms as the President of the Phenix Plus 50 Group and served two terms as the President of Phenix Alumni Association. She has been recognized by the Hampton Alumnae Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and citations from Zion and Queen Street Baptist Church.

Dr. Sarah E. (Price) Moten

Sarah is a 1960 graduate of Phenix High School and received her B. S. Degree from Hampton Institute, a Masters Degree from George Washington University and a Doctorate from Clark Atlanta University. Since 1982 she has had a distinguished career with the Federal Government. In 1982 she was a Country Director for the Unites States Peace Corps serving in Africa. She then held positions with the United States Department of Health and Human Resources; United States Department of State; the National Council of Negro Women; International Affairs Consultant, National Security Council; and currently works for the United States Agency for International Development – Africa Bureau. Her diverse career included being the Chief US Negotiator, Japan, for the return of refugees to Cambodia and Nicaragua.

Dr. Terry M. Whittaker

Dr. Whittaker was an outstanding student athlete at Phenix in the classroom and on the basketball court and football field. He served as senior class president for the Class of 1968. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Dr. Whittaker received a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and a doctoral degree from the University of Delaware. He was the first African American football player to receive the University of Wisconsin’s Ivan B. Williamson Award for outstanding scholastic-athletic ability. He joined the University of Delaware in 1983 and has risen from Director to Assistant Dean of the Learner College of Business to the current position of Assistant Provost in 2003. Dr. Whittaker has received numerous honors and awards for his exemplary community service and work in higher education administration. He supports the Y. H. Thomas Community Center and the Aberdeen Civic Association. 

Walter T. “Fuzzy” Ward

Fuzzy (1957) received a B/ S. Degree from Hampton Institute and a Masters from Manhattan College. Walter was best known for his great athletic skills in basketball. He played for the Baby Pirates at Phenix from 1952-1957. It was there he gained much popularity and fame for being the best all time player in the history of the school. At Hampton Institute he broke the all-time scoring record. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Capitols to play professional basketball, but was required to accept the military draft. He served in the U.S. Army where he played basketball and was a one-man scoring machine. After his tour of duty he played in the nationally acclaimed Rucker Professional Basketball Tournament in New York, and the Eastern Professional Basketball League. 

Dr. Mary Christian

Dr. Christian served her community and the Commonwealth of Virginia for over fifty years. Dr. Christian started her professional career as a teacher at Aberdeen Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia. For more than 25 years, Dr. Christian was a professor at Hampton University in the School of Education. She then was elected to the House of Delegates and retired after 18 years of service.

Lionel Hope

At Phenix he was an avid athlete who was quarterback of the 1941 and 1942 State Football Championship teams, Captain of the basketball team, and a pivotal track team member. During his career he worked as an auditor for the District of Columbia; and Management Analyst for University of the District of Columbia. He entered politics and was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 1982, and became the City’s first Black Vice Mayor.

Lillian Epps Johnson

A graduate from Phenix High in 1948, she earned a MA in Nursing from St. Philip School of Nursing at the Medical College of Virginia in 1952. Mrs. Johnson retired from Langley Air Force Base Hospital in 1987 after 32 years of faithful service. Mrs. Johnson was the first civilian employee to receive the Congressional Award for Exemplary Service to the Public and the Community and received the Outstanding Civilian Nurse and Federal Women of the Year awards. Bound Program at Hampton Institute for at risk students in high school and he started the National Teachers of Education Seminar at Hampton Institute.

Copyright 2016, George P. Phenix High School.