Editor’s Note: Russell County has a long history that is important to the State of Alabama and its evolvement from an area described in the book “Russell County in Retrospect” by Anne Kendrick Walker as a “barbaric land” to what it is today. Many of the people who set their roots in the county in its early days including the state’s first Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress, important Native Americans who paid with their lives to cede land that created the county, a family that started a place of higher learning in south Russell County that later led to the establishment of one of the state’s most known institutions of education today and a former slave who placed a monument to honor his former owner, are very much important to the formation of Alabama. The story that follows is another of a series to inform you – our readers – about the history of Russell County.
If one thing may be said of Lucien Paschal Stough, it is that he found beauty in everything in life. It was his way and he often quoted the English Romantic poet John Keats. His favorite words to quote were those in the first line of Keats’ poem Endymion which are, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
“He saw beauty in a song of a bird, the grass, a tree, the clouds and he undoubtedly knew the maker of all these beautiful things, and the same power that created this beauty made him always truthful,” friends said of Stough.
Stough was born in La Pine, Alabama, in August 1888. He received his formal education at Highland Home College and earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1907. He also received a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Alabama.
The future leader of the Phenix City Schools System served during World War I in the Ordinance Division of the United States Army at Washington, D.C. During World War II, he led Russell County’s War Bond Drive. He was so success in this endeavor that he was awarded a medal by the Treasury Department. Stough believed that if you took on a task, you needed to be dedicated to the task and to do it well.
Before he became the superintendent of Phenix City schools, Stough was a principal in Montgomery, Barbour, Covington, Bullock and Russell counties. All of those were in the first 12 years of his 48-year career in education in Alabama.
Stough served Phenix City as its superintendent of schools from June 1923 until his death in April of 1955. He was the guardian over a system that grew from a total enrollment of 1,327 students to 6,611 students. Former students talked of Stough standing in his office doorway each morning to greet the students attending Central High at the 14th Street school opened in 1928. Once the school’s gymnasium was built, the school system’s administration offices moved to a wing built to the west side of that building.
So it was Stough who oversaw the construction of the first Central High, the school’s gymnasium and administration offices, Central Junior High/Annex and Central Elementary all in the same area off 14th Street. The school system still uses a portion of the old Central Elementary. The junior high/annex is now the city’s library and the high school serves as the Central Activity Center.
Stough married Willa Mae Carmack, who served as Central High’s Librarian during her husband’s tenure as superintendent.
The head educator’s work was highly respected. In a resolution to Stough from the Board of Education stated, “Lucien Paschal Stough was a great public servant whose life was unselfishly dedicated to the cause of education, to the public’s welfare and the promotion of education.” Community leaders said Stough was a man on an educational mission.
The Phenix City Teachers’ Association also had kind words for the job Stough performed over the course of the 32 years he served the school system. The association members wrote that, “His philosophy of education was to maintain a school program which would teach our boys and girls to be physically clean and strong; mentally prepared and alert to the opportunities and responsibilities; morally honest and dependable, with Christian faith in the future and ambition to live a worthwhile life for themselves and their fellow men.”
In addition to being the city’s superintendent of schools, Stough was active in many other areas. He was a trustee of Trinity Methodist Church, a member of the Phenix City Parks and Recreation Board and an advisor to the Bradley Benevolent and Educational Association.
Stough was a life member of the Wilson Williams Lodge No. 351; a member of the Commandery, Phenix City Chapter 149; a member of Knights Templar and a charter member of the Phenix City Lions Club.
Stough died at the age of 66 on April 27, 1955 at his home on 10th Avenue after a long illness. The funeral was at Trinity Methodist Church with burial in Lakewood Memory Garden Cemetery. On the day of the funeral, all Phenix City schools were closed.
His pallbearers were J.T. Garrett, Joe R. Hair, Lyman Bird, A.G. Brown, Porter Newton and Warren N. Richards.
Honorary pallbearers were John W. Harrelson, W.F. Darnell, Isaac Isaiah Moses, W.B. Mims, S. Lauderdale, Joseph W. Smith, William R. Belcher, Perry Lee Parker, Leo Dennis, M.C. Wheelis, H.B. Hammer, M.C. Whitten, C.L. Mullin, Lorin D. Raines, Dr. Guy J. Dillard, I.C. Wheelis, W.H. Shaw, Douglas Newsome, Lamar Morgan, D.A. Turner, Claude Scarbrough Sr., R.K. Webb, Roy Burns, Forbes Bradley, E.E. Waddell, Dr. A. R. Meadows, J.E. Malone, George Carmack, Hugh Teal and members of the Board of Trustees of Trinity Methodist Church.
For many today, the only knowledge most citizens of Phenix City have of L.P. Stough is the fact his name is on apartment buildings located on 10th Avenue South just off Seale Road. Those apartments, constructed in 1963 were named in honor of the late superintendent.