Although school is out, there is still activity at the end of South Street in Davidson. Across from Davidson Elementary, two signs oversee summer baseball games and walkers coming and going from the town greenway.
It is fitting that the signs share a space since both are named in honor of two tireless volunteers. JoAnne Shackelford and Gene McEver both worked for Davidson College, though at different times, and both received the college’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Community award.
Gene McEver came to Davidson as a football coach during the 1931-32 season. A standout player at the University of Tennessee, McEver took over as head football coach just 4 years later. He left Davidson briefly to coach at the University of North Carolina (1944) and at Virginia Tech (1945-1947) and for the Charlotte Clippers. In 1951, he was elected to the town board and remained a commissioner until 1969. He stepped down from the board to accept a position as superintendent for public works for the town.
He never lost his interest in sports and was elected to the National Football Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1954. He not only served as director and state president of Pony League baseball, but dedicated hours to founding the Davidson Youth Baseball program — a task that included building and maintaining baseball fields in town (a Charlotte News article noted that he had built most of the eleven hundred seats around the field), and announcing the games for almost 2 decades.
Noting his work with youth, his role in directing drives and community projects, the citation for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan award presented to him in 1963 ends:
The Faculty of Davidson College by a ‘show of hearts’ would crown the recognition of such excellences by conferring upon you [this award] as upon one who possesses ‘a burning heart, a spacious spirit and a willing hand.’
JoAnne Shackelford joined the college’s Admission Office staff in 1992. As active participant in the Office Support Staff organization, she supported the college’s Relay for Life team. She was well known in town for the signs (made from sheets) celebrating the successes and joys of others – birthdays, graduations, and whatever else struck her fancy.
She earned her sign by including in many activities being a crossing guard for the elementary school for 18 years, no doubt cheering many students with her smile and encouraging words.
Sadly, her Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award was given posthumously, shortly after her death in 2005. Her citation described what could be aptly called “Shackelford’s way” in noting that “Many of us may never know again a person who so completely gave of herself, each and every day, to others.”