Claflin University Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

Dec 05, 2017

Eight Claflin University alumni were inducted in to the Hall of Fame on November 17 at the Presidential Scholarship Gala. Individuals that are selected each year have made their mark in made their mark in areas such as community service, education, athletics, government and philanthropy. 


Gladys P. Morgan Bell is a native of Columbia, S.C. and a graduate of C.A. Johnson High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in science from Claflin University in 1961 and a Master of Science Technology Degree in chemistry in 1973 at American University. In addition, she received academic fellowships at several universities including Tuskegee Institute, the College of William and Mary, University of North Carolina and Howard University where she researched new science programs. 

Bell’s work experiences span a multitude of professions. She was employed in New York City at Sloan Kettering Research Laboratory Hospitals in the area of bacteriology. She taught biology and chemistry at Gallman High School in Newberry, S.C. and C.S. Brown High School in Winton, N.C. She has held many leadership positions with Washington D.C. Public Schools including elementary and high school classroom science teacher, regional science supervisor, science team leader-teachers corps, Howard University coordinator of the Intern-Mentor Program, elementary school principal, director of Teacher and Administrator Incentive Program; co-founder and administrator of Tri-Community Public Charter School, and proposal reviewer for the U.S. State City-Wide Science Fairs. Bell mentored science students at Woodrow Wilson High School who achieved recognition for winning multiple awards at international science fairs.

Bell is an active member of Francis Burns United Methodist Church where she is president of the United Methodist Women. She is the coordinator of the Education and Interpretation of United Methodist Women and she serves on the church’s nomination and leadership committee. Bell is an associate regional director for the Columbia (S.C.) Chapter of the Claflin University International Alumni Association. She also serves on the memorial committee.

She serves on her Home Owners Association Board (HOA), a member of the Order of Tents, and a volunteer at the local offices of the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. She is a C.A. Johnson High School Class of 1957 supporter of the Health and Science Magnet School, a volunteer with the Summer Freedom School Program, and a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is also a member of the George Washington Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa Education Sorority. 

Some of her awards and recognitions include: SC Living The Legacy Award; Education Excellence Award by the Scottish Rites; DC Schools Outstanding Educator in Science by the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Black Scientists; NASA Earth Science Literacy Project Award; National Masonic Award for Professional Administrative Service; Outstanding Science Teacher at Gallman High School Class of 1967 50th reunion, and D.C. Public Schools Award for Outstanding Science Teacher and Administrator for 30 years of service.

Gladys’ philosophy of life is “Always put God first in all my doing; Strive for excellence in whatever I am involved with; Respect others and recognize that each individual is different.”


2A native of Orangeburg, S.C., Charles W. Ellis graduated with honors as the salutatorian from Wilkinson High School in 1960. He graduated cum laude from Claflin University in 1964.

 Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Air Force. Ellis began his military service as a second lieutenant before earning the rank of lieutenant and eventually being promoted to lieutenant colonel. His early assignments included air weapons officer and squadron training officer. Ellis was among the first officers to serve with the Air Force Space Command which was formed in 1982 to provide resilient and affordable space and cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the nation. He was a space operations officer, instructor and base commander.

Ellis’s distinguished career included his assignment as a surveillance officer with the national military Command Center, Operations Directorate, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His extensive expertise in the U.S. Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment System and his astute evaluation of aerospace events, often of international significance, helped to influence decisions made by the highest military and civilian authorities. His competence with automated systems, his reliability and vigilance, as well as his ability to concisely summarize complex information were critical to the successful operation of the national military. 

LTC Ellis has earned the following decorations and medals: Defense Meritorious Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster; AF Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters; combat Readiness Medal with one oak leaf cluster; National Defense Service Medal; Overseas Short Tour Ribbon with one oak leaf cluster; AF Longevity Service Award with four oak leaf clusters; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; Small Arms Expert Marksmanship ribbon, and AF Training Ribbon. Each oak cluster equals one additional medal. Additionally, he was awarded two military badges: the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge for service on the Joint Staff and the Command Air Force Space Operation Badge for service in various Space Units and Systems. LTC Ellis retired after 24 years of service in November 1988. 

After retiring, he graduated from Converse College in August 1991 with a Master’s Degree in Natural Science Education. He taught advance placement (AP) biology, honors physical science and comprehensive health for 17 years at Carver Junior High School in Spartanburg, S.C.

 LTC Ellis is a member of Silver High Memorial United Methodist Church. He is also a member of Monday Night Men’s Bible Study group and  chairperson of the church council. He is married to the former Gertrude Black and they have two daughters, Karen and Andrea; two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.


A native of Bamberg, S.C., Hezekiah Lynwood Hayes Jr. graduated from Voorhees High School in Denmark, S.C. in 1969. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Claflin University in 1975.

Hayes enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1975 and attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. After successfully completing language school, he attended advance language training in San Angelo, Texas. His first operational assignment was in Sabana Seca, San Juan, Puerto Rico. While on this assignment, he was selected for Officer Candidate School, in Newport, R.I., and commissioned an ensign on July 7, 1978. As an ensign, he was assigned to Rota, Spain. There he deployed on frigates, destroyers, and cruisers to the Mediterranean Sea, The Red Sea, The Black Sea, The Indian Ocean and the Parisian/Arabian Gulf as the cryptologic division officer. When he wasn’t deployed, Hayes was an operations watch officer responsible for a 24-hour operations facility.

Hayes transferred from Rota, Spain to the Naval Security Group Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served as a system development officer. Later, he was assigned to the National Security Agency as an operations officer and deputy chief of the satellite remote collection center. He later moved to the Agency Direct support budget office to supply input for the Congressional Budget Justification Book. His next assignment at the agency was team leader visiting Near East and Mediterranean locations.

Hayes was assigned as cryptologist/signal warfare officer on air carrier, USS Forrestal (CV-59), with more than 5,000 personnel when the air wing was embarked. Prior to this assignment, he attended the Tactical Action Officer School in San Diego, Calif. He completed the operations officer course in Pensacola, Fla.

When Hayes retired from the Navy in 1996, he was employed at the American Legion Headquarters in Washington, D.C. At the American Legion, he assisted veterans in obtaining the benefits that had been
denied and presented the cases to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hayes also worked at the Department of Transportation as a management and program senior analyst and at the United States Postal Service.

He is currently a life member of the National Naval Officers Association, Disabled American Veterans and Claflin University International Alumni Association.

Hayes is married to Jacqueline Johnson-Hayes, also a U. S. Navy retiree.


4A native of Orangeburg, S.C., Attorney William H. Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claflin University in 1972. He received his Juris Doctor degree (JD) at Duke University and the Master of Laws degree (LL.M) in trial advocacy from Temple University. He is licensed to practice in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, all Federal District Courts, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

After graduating from Duke University Law School in 1975, Johnson began a 39-year legal career on the regulatory side of the transportation industry when he was employed with the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, DC. In 1978, he joined the staff of the United States Senate Commerce Committee, where he was soon named chief counsel of its Surface Transportation Subcommittee. In this position he was responsible for managing and drafting all surface transportation legislation originating in the Senate, including the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 which deregulated the U.S. Rail Industry, transforming it from a highly constricted economic model of operation to the competitive rail industry of today.

In 1981, Johnson moved from the regulatory and legislative sides of the rail transportation industry to the private side when he was recruited for a position with the Consolidated Rail Corporation (CONRAIL) in Philadelphia.

In 1997, Johnson joined the Norfolk Southern Corporation as its senior general attorney and intellectual property counsel. He was responsible for all major customer’s business bankruptcy issues and ensuring that the Corporation’s multi million dollar portfolio of intangible property assets, were legally protected and enforced.

In addition to previously serving as a member of the Claflin University’s Board of Visitors, Johnson has served in a number of legal and community leadership positions including court appointed arbitrator for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. He served as president of the Barristers Association of Philadelphia, and as the National Bar Association’s regional director for the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has also served as a member on the following Board of Directors: the Philadelphia Public Interest Law Center, the Philadelphia Bar Education Center, the Metropolitan Career Center of Philadelphia and the National Bar Association Board of Governors. Johnson currently serves as a member of the Claflin University Board of Trustees.

For his community leadership and distinguished legal service, Johnson has received various forms of recognition and commendation including being listed in “Who’s Who in American Law.” He is also the recipient of official “Letters of Commendation” from President Jimmy Carter in recognition of his significant leadership role as counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Surface Transportation Subcommittee. 

Johnson is a proud Vietnam Veteran. He and his wife, Annette Bell Johnson, have three sons.

Arts & Entertainment

A native of Florence, S.C., Alvenia Singleton graduated from Claflin University in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a minor in voice. Early in her career, she implemented a therapeutic music program for the South Carolina Department of Mental Retardation. More than 90 young adults participated in the program. In addition, she organized a Children’s Choir at Salem United Methodist Church in Florence where for many; it was their first introduction to music education.

In the Florence Little Theater’s adaptation of Show Boat, The Musical, Singleton was a chorus singer. This is the musical that highlighted theater classics “Ol Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat’ Man.” 

As a member of the Howard University Concert Choir, Singleton traveled with the group and sang in “Revelations” the Alvin Ailey Dancers signature choreographic work. She has also performed in venues with legendary performers Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Lola Falana. 

In 2013 she was cast in Lazarus, The Musical, which debuted at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. This masterful musical, based on Luke 16:19-31, featured more than 30 original songs and told the inspiring story of hunger and poverty. The musical was reprised at New York’s famed Riverside Baptist Church in the same year and again in 2014 in Cramton Auditorium at Howard University.

In 2016, as guest singer with the Heritage Signature Chorale and accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, Singleton sang in the production of Porgy & Bess which debuted at the Kennedy Center For the
Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 

In 2016 as a member of the Freedom Choir, she participated in the Middleburg Film Festival where the movie Birth of a Nation was featured. The choir performed the sound track as the film was shown and as its composer, Henry Jackman was honored. She is currently rehearsing for her debut at Carnegie Hall in March 2018 as guest singer with the Heritage Signature Chorale. The chorale will perform Lord Nelson Mass by Haydn.

Singleton serves as the recording secretary for the Washington, DC Chapter of Claflin University International Alumni and is a life member of the CUIAA. She is also a member of the Order of Eastern Stars (Silver Star Chapter #251), the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (Forest Temple #9), and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Her favorite song is “Jesus Is All the World to Me.” The songwriter goes on to say, “He is my strength from day to day. Without Him I would fall! When I am sad, He makes me glad. He’s my friend!”  

Alvenia is the proud mother of Levi Gregg II.


Dr. Verlie A. Graham Tisdale is the dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and a professor of biology at Claflin University. She was salutatorian of the Class of 1967 at Carver High School in Lake City, S.C. Dr. Tisdale earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology at Claflin in 1971. She also earned both a Master of Science degree (1974) and her Ph.D. (1979) from Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga. She did further study and earned a Management Development Certification at Harvard University (2004) in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Tisdale began her teaching career at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. She has also held teaching positions at Morris Brown College in Atlanta; Houston Community College and North Harris County College in Houston, Texas; and Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.

Dr. Tisdale has distinguished herself as a health profession advisor, health science educator, and a biologist. She has received numerous awards and citations for her academic achievements and her service and dedication to assisting young men and women enter graduate school and health care professions. She is the recipient of the George E. Brown SNMA Region III Premedical Advisor Award, the 1993 Iowa College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Outstanding Advisor Award. Tisdale was a two-time recipient of the Prairie View A&M University Advisor Award and in 1994, and she was inducted into the Florence County School District III Academic Hall of Fame. Tisdale is listed in several editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and she was recognized by the Orangeburg Business Community and the First National Bank as the 2002 Distinguished University Educator of the year. In 2004, she was honored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church for Exemplary Teaching. In 2017, Tisdale was selected a “Legend Honoree for Science” by the Columbia S.C. Chapter of the Claflin University International Alumni Association. 

Under her leadership, Claflin’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department received certification from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Chemistry Department earned American assembled an award-winning faculty including winners of the National Millennium Award for Excellence in Teaching (2002, 2004), the South Carolina Governors Professor of the Year at a four-year Institution (2005), the 2006 South Carolina Governor’s Co-Professors of the Year in Research Awareness, and two faculty members who won the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2011 and 2017).

Dr. Tisdale serves on numerous civic, college, academic and professional committees at the local and the national levels. She holds membership in several professional societies, published in numerous scientific journals and made presentations to leading scientific scholars. She considers helping all of the young men and women who became physicians, surgeons, dentists, allied health care professionals and science professors, among her greatest accomplishments.

Dr. Tisdale is married to Lamar Tisdale and they are the parents of Dedric Tisdale (wife Tracie) and a grandniece that they raised as their very own, Tekiah S. McClary.



Carolyn Williamson-Martin was born in Charleston County, S.C. She graduated from Avery High School in Charleston, S.C. In 1963 she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and general science from Claflin University. Williamson-Martin earned a Master’s degree in education and administration from The City University of New York in 1973.

Williamson-Martin is highly recognized for her service in educating children and adults. She served as a teacher trainer and staff developer for the New York City Department of Education and Board of Cooperative Service Education in Long Island, N.Y., for more than 50 years.

Her contributions to the community include her active membership at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Dix Hills and a watchcare member of the Bethel A.M.E. Church in McClellanville, S.C. Williamson-Martin is also past president of the Sigma Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., as well as a Life and Golden member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also a past president of the Eastern Shore Chapter of Links, Inc.

Williamson-Martin is a life member of the New York Chapter of the Claflin University International Alumni Association where she works to support the University’s scholarship fund. Additionally, she served as the
first vice president of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club. She also is a member of the David W. Parker #64 Eastern Star Huntington Branch and a Silver Life Member of the NAACP.

Williamson-Martin is the proud mother of Derrick Richard (wife, Cara) and grandmother of Whitney Rose and Courtney Elizabeth Martin of Gahanna, Ohio.

Her motto is “Her purpose to life is to serve and give back.”

Community Service

8A native of Allendale, S.C., Paul “Flash” Wilson graduated from Allendale- Fairfax High School in May 1973. In high school, he received an “Outstanding Trombone Player” trophy and was voted “Most Talented Senior” and runner up for “Best Dressed” by his classmates. He received a bachelor’s degree from Claflin University in 1977 and proudly returns this year for his 40th anniversary celebration. Wilson later attended Clark-Atlanta University, the University of South Carolina – Aiken, Voorhees College and Cedine Bible Camp.

Upon graduating from Claflin, he began working at Milliken & Company as a management trainee in LaGrange, Ga. He was promoted within one year as the department manager. Becoming homesick, he decided to return to South Carolina and was employed as a laboratory technician at the Savannah River Plant. After more than two years as a lab tech, he was promoted to the company’s management team. On August 1, 2012 (his 57th birthday), Wilson retired. After one year of retirement he became a certified travel agent and consultant.

To demonstrate his love and compassion for Claflin University, he established a $50,000 Legacy Donation. His current affiliations include NAACP membership, Claflin University International Alumni Association (CUIAA) Treasurer and Finance Committee chairman, president of Beckett Family Reunion and Busby Family Reunion and a life member of the Claflin University International Alumni Association.

His previous affiliations and contributions include Polemarch, Augusta Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Kappa League mentor and tutor, Christian education director, NAACP treasurer, CSRA College Night participant, CUIAA Scholarship committee, After School Opportunity Program (ASOP) Tutorial and a signature donor to St. Jude Cancer and Research Center, Memphis, Tenn.

Flash’s motto is Psalms 37:4 – “Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

 He has five daughters – Tamara, Kaleena, Falicia, Destinee and Desmonet along with three granddaughters and two grandsons.

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