Springfield Public Schools Hall of Fame 2012

Meet the inspiring men and women who have been named to the Springfield Public Schools Hall of Fame for 2012.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

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Fulbright with his fellow Tuskegee Airmen (above). Fulbright dressed in his uniform for the Tuskegee Airmen (right). Fulbright enjoys some quality time with his family (far right).

 

French teacher, Tuskegee Airman, first Dean of North Carolina Central University’s School of Business—all of these notable positions have, at one time or another, described the late Dr. Stewart Fulbright. 

Born and raised in Springfield, Fulbright first got a taste of business helping his mother with her catering jobs as well as working at a local clothing store. His work ethic and a couple nice suits in tow, Fulbright made his way through three degrees: a BA in French from Lincoln  University, an MBA from University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in business administration from Ohio State. 

In 1943 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was trained as part of the “Tuskegee Experience” in Tuskegee, Alabama. The African American pilots trained there overcame segregation and adversity and played crucial roles during World War II. Fulbright, along with his Tuskegee comrades, was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 in Washington, D.C. Among his other accomplishments, Fulbright was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the advisory committee for the Commodity Credit Corporation and was named professor emeritus by North Carolina Central University.  

Before retiring in 1982, Fulbright spent the majority of his professional career as a member of the faculty and later, the first dean of the School of Business at NCCU in Durham, North Carolina. His son, Edward Fulbright, spoke of his father’s commitment to education, saying, “It was key for him to always keep learning.”

When Dr. Fulbright was young, he mischievously tied his brother to a tree on a hot summer’s day. He went inside, opened a book and completely forgot to go release his brother from captivity. His mother knew that if a book could captivate him to the point of forgetting about his brother outside, he was surely a boy who would excel in academics. His parents made a commitment then to do all they could to make sure he went to college. He excelled during his high school years at the now dissolved Lincoln High School, graduating salutatorian of his class. His sister and his best friend remembered him as a smart and popular boy growing up and remarked that even in adulthood, Fulbright always sought opportunities to continually educate himself. 

Fulbright passed away on January 1, 2012 at the age of 92.

While there were several years between them, Fulbright’s sister remembered eating dinner every night as a family while she was growing up. Gina, Fulbright’s daughter, says her dad was a family man and a supporter of education who was modest about his many achievements. So modest, in fact, that she says he would have been surprised by his induction to the SPS Hall of Fame. “Surprised but very honored,” she says.—M.M.

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