Four more names added to Wall of Excellence

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On Saturday, the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence — an initiative to honor alumni and former employees of Franklin High School and Hayden High School — gained four new names.

Inducted this year were Earving L. Blythe, a 1963 graduate of FHS; Clifford A. Cutchins III, a 1943 graduate of FHS; Della I. Hayden, for whom Hayden High School was named; and Robert “Bob” Sandidge, who coached at both FHS and HHS,  and later served as principal of FHS. With the exception of Blythe, all honorees this year were inducted posthumously.

“I think all of them, when you look back at it, did not do it for personal accolades; they did it for how it helped the community as a whole become a better place to be,” said Brian Hedgepeth, FCWOE committee member, in his opening remarks.

Blythe was inducted for the category of outstanding career. He has been active as a computer and communications technology professional since 1968, serving in various roles for the U.S. Department of Devense and the Department of the Navy until 1991, when he took a position as the vice president for information technology at Virginia Tech. He also served on a higher education advisory board for Apple, and as such, met with Apple founder Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook.

Cutchins was inducted for the category of academics and career. He served in the Army during World War II as a captain in the Pacific Theater, and later returned to Franklin to begin his banking career with Vaughan & Company Bankers. Throughout his career, he engineered a series of mergers and acquisitions and by 1989 when he retired, the bank had become known as Sovran Bank. Sovran later became NationsBank and today, the financial institution is known as Bank of America. Cutchins died on Christmas Eve 2002. Clyde Parker accepted the award on Cutchins’ behalf.

Hayden was inducted for the category of special honorary achievement. Hayden founded the Franklin Normal School, a private high school for African-Americans, on four acres of land donated by Marriage Allen, a missionary and temperance worker from London, England. Hayden opened the school in 1904 in a small building owned by the widow of the late Rev. Guy Powell, with an enrollment of 21 students. In 1905, she was successful in erecting a building with four rooms at a cost of $900, and in 1906, Allen returned to the United States and was so impressed, she advanced $6,000 for the construction of a dormitory for girls, allowing the school 10 years to pay back the loan. Hayden died in 1924. Accepting the award on her behalf was Dr. Alvin Harris.

Sandidge was inducted for the category of outstanding service. A veteran of both the Army and the Navy, Sandidge spent a total of 52 years in education in Franklin. As a coach at FHS, he led his teams to several championships and was instrumental in helping many of his players to obtain college athletic scholarships and grants. He was also a charter member of the Paul D. Camp Community College Board of Directors from 1971 to 1979, and was also a charter member of the Franklin Sportsman’s Association. Accepting the award on his behalf was his daughter, Robbin Martz.

With the induction of these four names, the total number of people to be listed on the Wall of Excellence, which is on permanent display at Franklin High School, stands at 11. The first induction banquet was held in 2015.