Mrs. Alice Kinney Cox is 102 years young and looking forward to her 103rd
birthday Dec. 28, 2006. However, she told a dinner group recently that when the
Lord reaches down his hand for her, she is ready to take hold of it and let him
raise her to a new life. A sharp-minded, strong-voiced petite lady, Mrs.
Cox was the star of the evening at a dinner hosted by the Viola Hilliard, Pearl
and Dugan Carter Scholarship Foundation which had been providing scholarships
for Denison High graduating seniors since 1993.
Mrs. Cox was crowned queen of the “Affaire Elegante” by Rev. Michael Braxton, a
former student of Viola Hilliard and who now is pastor of the Bethel Community
Baptist Church, and served as master of ceremonies. Mrs. Cox entered the
banquet room under her own power with only a walker to assist her. She sat with
a large group of her family and talked freely with old friends. Never one
to be without words, this admirable woman, who passed the century mark two years
ago, asked to speak after the crowning ceremony. Her advice to the group was to
“Help One Another,” saying that’s what it will take to make this country great.
Mrs. Cox reminisced of the time many years ago during World War II when every
Sunday morning those who lived in Denison would get up and go downtown to the
Katy Train Station before going to church. They would meet the Troop Train that
made a stop there. She said the troops weren’t allowed to get off the
train, but “we talked to them as they hung out the windows and we followed the
train for about two blocks shaking their hands as they pulled away from the
station.” While troop trains don’t come through Denison anymore, she instructed
attendees to support our troops in the present conflict and to help one another.
“Support President Bush,” she said as she elaborated that he had done some bad
things, but he had done a lot of good things too. “President Clinton was a good
president, but his wife was the smartest one in the White House,” she said.
Mrs. Cox was born in Denison in 1903 and lived at the corner of Morgan and Rusk,
diagonally across from the old peanut factory. She went to school here during
the time of segregation, completing 11 years, which at the time was all that was
required. The year after she graduated she went to Parsons, KS, here her uncle
was principal and she had to attend the 12th grade, a requirement there. She
moved back to Denison and married Ellis Cox and helped raise his daughter, Betty
who was seven at the time. She has been a life-long member of Hopewell Baptist
The program was titled the Viola Hilliard and Pearl and Dugan Carter Scholarship
Foundation event, an “Affaire Elegante,” and an elegant affair the dinner and
program were in Kohfeldt Hall of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The
foundation has been providing scholarships since 1993 in the name of Viola
Hilliard, teacher, whose strict, yet loving hand guided many youngsters to
appreciate an education. Rev. Braxton told the story of Miss Hilliard and
her ruler, which she used as a paddle. He said his mother called him Mike, but
Miss Hilliard insisted that he use his name correctly as Michael. Every time he
began spelling Mike, she would pop him with the ruler by the time he reached the
“k”. He finally decided his name was Michael.
When Miss Hilliard died in 1987, she named Marguerite Bradshaw in her will to
head a foundation to provide scholarships to graduating seniors at Denison High
School each year, continuing her goal of educating children even after her
death. Board members said that she placed that responsibility on Marguerite,
also a Denison teacher, because she knew that she shared her dream and would get
the job done.
Miss Hilliard graduated from Anderson High School as Valedictorian, but her
father had to learn of the honor at the local barbershop because she thought he
wouldn’t want her to get the honor because she was a girl. She worked for
five years, went to Prairie View College where she received her BA degree, then
her MA degree from Southeastern in Oklahoma. She also attended school in
Colorado and USC in California during the summer. She began teaching in
Clarksville, then returned to Denison public schools. She also taught in East
St. Louis. During her last years of teaching she was head of the Wimms School.
D.D. McKnight told the crowd that $2,000 left by Pearl Hilliard Carter, who died
in 1992, was used to start the foundation and Marguerite recruited the board.
Thirteen academic scholarships have been given in Miss Hilliard’s memory and
four music scholarships – two vocal and two instrumental – have been given in
the name of James Henry “Dugan” Carter, who passed away in 1987, the same year
that Miss Hilliard died. Dugan grew up next door to an auto business and
was driving, riding motorcycles and repairing cars and any other mechanical
device before he was 11. He learned to play the saxophone in high school in
Denison and continued to play at Houston Tillotsen. He played with several
famous bands, including Stanley Turrentine. He made his living playing jazz all
over the country.
James’ mother, Pearl Hilliard Carter, was a sister to Viola, who sent her to
college to become an English teacher. She taught at Lincoln High School in
College Station and in the Dallas Independent School District.
This year’s recipient of the $500 scholarship is Jianna Berry, a 2006 graduate
of Denison High School, who will be attending Grayson County College with
several majors, including sports medicine. Jianna follows her sister, Jamie, now
a student at Texas Southern, as a scholarship recipient.
Funds to keep the scholarship program going are raised with special events, but
primarily through donations which will be accepted by board members now or
during the coming year. - Donna Hunt
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