McManus, Norris, Noe join Hall of Fame

Sandra ClarkFeature, Halls

You could search all week and not find three people who have given more to the Halls community than those honored April 28 as inductees into the Halls High School Hall of Fame.

Mildred “Millie” Bledsoe Vandergriff Norris, Class of 1953, was recognized for her service, including volunteer work at Salem Baptist Church and through the Halls Crossroads Women’s League, where she was a founding member. Millie raised four boys and supported their activities while they attended Halls High School. She has worked as a surgical technician at St. Mary’s Hospital and in sales at the Sterchi’s furniture store in Halls Center. She’s been married to Ed Norris since 1967 and was the Halls Business & Professional Association’s Woman of the Year in 2006. Her current project is advocacy for a Halls Museum to house the photographs collected by Hubert Larue. A committee of the women’s league works from 1-3 each Tuesday and Thursday to scan Hubert’s photos to preserve Halls history.


Jim McManus, Class of 1967, owns McManus Auto Sales in Halls. He’s raised money for Salem Baptist Church, where he’s a lifelong member, for the Halls Community Park and for Halls High athletics, including the infamous “donkey drop” promotion in the 1990s. He’s proud of the work to restore the community building at the park, which is now used for voting. He coached sons Bradley and Dusty, but his proudest achievement came when daughter Nikki went out for cheerleader at the community park. Jim realized that selection was limited, so he and others formed a cheerleader board on which he served for eight years. “We decided that since there is a first and second half in football, we can have two cheer squads for each game. Every girl that wanted to cheer got to cheer and it is still that way today,” he said. “I was born, raised, lived, still live, work and will be buried in Halls.”

Gordy Noe, Class of 1975, founded and continues to operate Pioneer Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. in Halls. He opened the business in 1981 with a 2-member crew and one truck. It has grown to a current 45 fulltime employees with a fleet of 38 vehicles. Professionally, Gordy has served as president of the PHCC Tennessee State Board of Directors, as well has held office in state and local groups. In the community, Noe has donated bottled water for 10 years to be sold by youth groups and sports teams to raise funds. This past year, he donated 31,200 bottles. He was 1994 Halls Man of the Year. Ride and Decide is a program he started to introduce high school kids to the trades with summer internships. He will have more than 60 enrolled locally this year and the program has expanded to six states.

Phil Campbell entertains at the alumni dinner.

Officers: Brad Hodge, president; Chris Vandergriff, vice president; Dan Bolinger, secretary; Janice Loy Walker, treasurer. Directors are Kathy McCloud Bright, Wayne Henderson, Robin Holliday, Connie Arnold Hunter, James Kuykendall, Gordy Noe, Melissa Rodgers Sandling, Darryl Tindell, Rhonda Vineyard, Gilbert Watson and Holly Wilson White.

Gene Peterson, Class of 1943, was the oldest Halls graduate present. Former teachers included Gloria Stout and Jennie Kate Purcell. The Class of 1968 was honored on its 50th anniversary.

Entertainment was by Phil Campbell, accompanied by Dennis Lakin on guitar. The Halls High Jazz Band also performed.

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