2014 Hall of Fame
Essie Mae Kiser Foxx - Community Activist
She was a Community Activist that held the East Spencer community near and dear to her heart. In 1984, she organized the Mass Dunbar Reunion.
Mrs. Foxx attended the Rowan County Schools and was a proud graduate of Dunbar High School in East Spencer. A faithful and devoted member of Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion, she has served on the Steward Board, the Historical Committee, the Deaconess Board, the Women's Home and Overseas Missionary, Lay Council, a Co-Chairman of the Legacy of a Leader Committee and other Boards and organizations through the years. One Feb. 9, 2014, she was honored by Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion Church as the “Legacy of A Leader”. On Sept. 3, 2015, the Town of East Spencer gave a tribute to Essie K. Foxx by naming a street in her honor, “Essie K. Foxx Lane”. She was a Community Activist that held the East Spencer community near and dear to her heart. In 1984, she organized the Mass Dunbar Reunion.
John L. Rustin, Sr. - First African American Police Chief in Rowan County
John L. Rustin, a former East Spencer mayor and the town’s retired police chief.
Rustin, an East Spencer native, began his law enforcement career in East Spencer as a part-time officer in 1952 during the time of segregation and eventually became police chief in 1974. While working for the police department part-time, Rustin also worked for Isenhour Brick and Tile in East Spencer, now Boral Brick.
A World War II veteran he served on several boards throughout the years including the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, the Civitan Club and Peace Officers Association. He was a life member of the local NAACP and N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.
Rustin was a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. A street, located beside the East Spencer Post Office, was named in his honor. In February 2011, Rustin received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
Erza Gilliam - Dunbar Principal/Educator
A graduate of J.C. Price High School, Salisbury, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Livingstone College, Salisbury, a Bachelor of Science Degree, from N.C. A&T State University, Greensboro, and a Master of Science Degree from Iowa University, Ames, Iowa.
His career included teaching principal at Summer Siding School, North Carolina, from 1940-1942; instructor at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., from 1951-1955; instructor at Luther Jackson High School in Merrifield, Va., from 1955-1958; teacher and principal at Dunbar High School, East Spencer, from 1958-1969; and was research director for Rowan County Schools, Salisbury, from 1969-1981, from where he retired in 1981. Mr. Gilliam was inducted into the N.C. Community Action Inaugural Hall of Fame on Nov. 10, 2005, and the Livingstone College Leaders Hall of Fame in 2009.
Mr. Gilliam served in the Armed Forces in Asiatic-Pacific Theater as a commissioned officer, retiring in 1977 from the United States Army Reserves at the rank of Major. He successfully completed the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on June 3, 1971, and was a member of Local Chapter 107 of the American Legion.
A member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, he served in the capacity of Church Elder, Church Treasurer and Superintendent of Church School. In 1989, he served as a Commissioner Delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at Philadelphia, Pa.
Mr. Gilliam was a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity; served as a board member and treasurer of the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, Inc.; was a life-member and past Second Vice President of NAACP; formerly served as adviser to the Farm Service Agency; and served as a member of the Farm Committee of Cooperative Agriculture Extension. He was currently serving as an active board member of Nazareth Children's Home.
2015 Hall of Fame
EJohn Krider Sr.
Mr. Douglas Dewey Holmes, “Entrepreneur Extraordinaire,” was born in Salisbury, NC, August 7, 1948. As a young boy in a time when racial equality was scarce, Mr. Holmes cultivated foundational business skills at the knee of his father, the late Quentin Holmes, Sr. These skills would become incredible and essential components for the successful businessman he would become.
In 1966, Mr. Holmes graduated from Dunbar High School, then served 6 years in the Army Reserves. After leaving service, Mr. Holmes attended Davidson Community College, receiving his degree in Mechanical Engineering and Drafting. He began working for Proctor and Schwartz, a drafting company, desiring to become a chief engineer. Stepping out alongside his father, Mr. Holmes tried his hand at a few business ventures before opening a used car lot. Business grew and became profitable until the economy decreased. Customers returned their cars back to the lot. Going back to the drawing board, they came upon the idea to scrap the cars with a recycling company. This turned into a profitable venture, and Holmes Iron & Metal, Inc. was born. Buying and selling scrap metal became the mission. Mr. Holmes soon established relationship with overseas markets, exporting metals to places such as China, Taiwan and Canada, as well as throughout the United States. Today, Holmes Iron & Metal, Inc. is recognized as a decades-old, successful family owned and operated business that contributes to many diverse community organizations including, but not limited to, the United Negro College Fund, NAACP, Livingstone College, East Spencer Fire Department, Sheriff’s Dept, North Rowan High School, United Way, and the Salvation Army.
Mr. Holmes personal accolades and service accomplishments include: The Advisory Council of East Rowan High School, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Businessman of the Year, Trustee Board member at Providence AME Zion Church as well as Chairman of the Building Committee. As patriarch of his family, Mr. Holmes, along with his beloved wife, Shirley Holmes, considers his greatest accomplishment to be his children and grandchildren with whom he is proud to leave a remarkable legacy.
William R. "Pete" Kennedy
- Salisbury City Council/Entrepreneur
2017 Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc Awards Gala
Approximately 200 alumni, friends and guests participated in the 2017 Gala hosted by the Dunbar School Alumni Association, on Oct. 7 at the Salisbury Civic Center. Our biennial gala is held to generate funds for scholarships to be awarded to descendants of former students, teachers or administrators of Dunbar School who are current financial members.
The highlight of the evening was the induction of three alumni into the association’s Hall of Fame: Larry Poe, Willie Jean Kennedy and Rev. Reginald Massey.
Retired Rear Admiral Larry Poe was a member of the class of 1961. He attended Livingstone College before transferring to UNC Chapel Hill, where he received a B.S. degree in science. Poe received advanced degrees from several institutions of higher education prior to enlisting in the United States Navy where he eventually earned the rank of Rear Admiral.
Willie Jean Kennedy graduated as the Valedictorian of the class of 1962. Kennedy attended Livingstone College as one of the first recipients of a Future Teacher Scholarship provided by the State of North Carolina. After graduating with a BA degree in English, she was hired to teach English at the school from which she graduated, and has since provided more than three decades of service to the students and teachers in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. She is currently completing her third consecutive term on the Rowan County Board of Education.
Rev. Reginald Massey was a member of the class of 1964. He earned a BA degree in Sociology from Livingstone College and a master of divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary. Rev. Massey is recorded in historical records as the first African American mayor of the Town of East Spencer. During his three terms as mayor, Rev. Massey was appointed to the Intergovernmental Commission by the governor of North Carolina. After his tenure as mayor, he worked as a chaplain at the William “Bill” Heffner VA Medical Center. An ordained minister, Rev. Massey also pastored at several AME Zion churches.
According to Gala registration records, alumni representing classes from 1944-1969 were present. Etta Massey Webster, retired educator from Washington, DC, was the oldest attendee. Other out of town alumni present included William Barbour, Brenda C. Blakeney, Elva Wiley Chawlk, Carolyn and Lester Davis, Dollie Faggart, Alton Gaither, Christine Byers Green, Jimmie Hackett, Virginia Byers Hickman, Teresa Johnson, Thomas and Susan Lowe, Raymond McDaniel, Carolyn Witherspoon Paige, Doris Boler Phillips, Gerald Poe, Jean Ruffins, Phyllis Rutherford, Julia Hammond Rush, Varnetia Sims, Walter and Alice Swann, Charles Weddington, Hazeline Byers Wiley, Shirley Russell Williams, Bill and Linda Witherspoon, and Jimmy Witherspoon.
Gala committee members were Edna Davis Thomas, chairman; Sandra Corpening, Carolyn Napoleon, Hazel Kennedy, Valerie Sifford, Elaine Tate, Jimmy McCullough, Mary Lee, Jim Corpening and Linda Wylie.
2019 Hall of Fame
- DSAAI Charter Member/Educator
John A. Daniels
- DSAAI Charter Member/Chemist
Benjamin Davis, Sr.
- Salisbury City Council/Entrepreneur
Essie Graham Ruffin
- First President of DSAAl/Technology Career