CLASS OF 2015
William (Bill) Fulcher was born in Augusta and after graduating from Richmond Academy at the age of 16, he went to Darlington Prep School in Rome for one year so he could increase in his size and strength. While there he played football and baseball. In 1952, he was awarded a full scholarship to Georgia Tech where he played both sports. Bill was a three-year letterman at linebacker helping Tech post a 26-6-2 record. Bill then tried out for the Washington Redskins and played three NFL seasons, but a knee injury would end his playing career and he entered the coaching ranks. After stops at Burke County High School, Richmond Academy, and Waynesboro, Fulcher served as an assistant at Georgia Tech and Florida before being named head coach at the University of Tampa in 1971. One year later he took over the Tech program in 1972. In two seasons, Fulcher posted a 12-10-1 record before resigning and pursuing a career in real estate.
Bob (Bobby) Hendley was an outstanding baseball player in Macon at Lanier High School and Mercer University. In 1958, he signed a free agent contract to play professionally with the Milwaukee Braves. The left handed pitcher appeared in all or parts of seven seasons for the Braves, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. Bobby’s most memorable game in the majors came in 1965. He suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Los Angeles in which he hurled a complete game one-hitter against Dodger ace Sandy Koufax. Problem was, Koufax pitched a perfect game! Five days later, the two pitchers faced each other in a rematch at Wrigley Field. That time, Hendley gave up just four hits and defeated Koufax 2–1. In 1966, Hendley became primarily a relief pitcher, earning seven saves for the Cubs before being traded to the Mets in 1967 where he finished his playing career with 48 career wins, a 3.97 ERA, 25 complete games, and 13 saves.
Alec Kessler arrived at the University of Georgia in the fall of 1985. After a redshirt year in his first season, Kessler blossomed into an all-star his last three years. Alec was a three year starter making All-SEC First Team as a senior when he averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds per game. He graduated as UGA’s all-time leading scorer with 1,788 points, a record that has subsequently been broken. Kessler was also impressive in the classroom compiling a 3.9 GPA. He was the 12th pick overall in the 1990 NBA Draft, taken by the Houston Rockets, who promptly traded him to the Miami Heat. He played four seasons for the Heat scoring more than 1000 points before retiring and pursuing a career in medicine. He graduated in 1999 from the Emory University School of Medicine and became was an orthopedic surgeon in Pensacola. Sadly, Kessler died of an apparent heart attack after he collapsed while playing in a pickup basketball game in Pensacola. He was just 40 years old.
Willie McClendon enjoyed a standout high school career at Glynn Academy, where he was a three-year letterman in football and a two-year letterman in both basketball and track and field. McClendon went on play football at the University of Georgia. He was Al Pollard’s understudy on the 1976 SEC Championship team when he rushed for 211 yards on 40 carries with five touchdowns. But in 1978, Willie took center stage. A team captain for the Bulldogs, McClendon rushed for 1,312 yards to break the school single-season rushing record then held by former Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich. Two years later, McClendon’s new record would be topped by freshman sensation Herschel Walker. McClendon was an All-American and was named the 1978 SEC Player of the Year. He was also a three-year letterman for the Bulldogs. McClendon was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 66th overall pick in the third round of the NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Bears from 1979-82, backing up legendary running back Walter Payton.
A native of Gainesville, John Reginald (Reg) Murphy played three sports at Gainesville High School before heading to college. He graduated from Mercer University and began his career in journalism with the Macon Telegraph. He had a remarkable career in journalism and business, having served as president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, president and publisher of the Baltimore Sun, publisher and editor of the San Francisco Examiner, and editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Murphy was kidnapped in 1974, at the age of 40, and was freed two days later after the Atlanta Constitution paid a $700,000 ransom. William A. Williams was arrested for the crime only six hours after Murphy was released, and all of the money was recovered. An avid golfer, Murphy joined the executive committee of the U.S. Golf Association in 1989, served as vice president of the USGA in 1992, chairman of the Championship Committee in 1993, and president in 1994.
John Schuerholz was raised in Baltimore, the son of a minor league second baseman. At nearby Towson State University, Schuerholz was an all-conference selection in both baseball and soccer and was named Athlete of the Year during his senior season. In 1966, the Baltimore Orioles director of player development Lou Gorman, hired Schuerholz as a personal assistant, and John started his baseball career. When Gorman was named the Kansas City Royals general manager in 1975, Schuerholz became the team’s farm director. In 1981, Schuerholz took over as the Royals general manager and by 1985, John had re-tooled much of the team with younger talent and they captured their first World Series title. In 1990, the Atlanta Braves were searching for a new general manager when Bobby Cox went back to the dugout after a stint as GM. Schuerholz surprisingly left Kansas City and immediately helped the Braves go from worst to first, winning the National League pennant in 1991. For the next 14 years, the Braves finished first in their division in every completed season. Atlanta advanced to the World Series four times, winning the 1995 Title. Schuerholz became the first general manager to lead teams to World Series titles in both leagues.
Hope Spivey began participating in gymnastics at the age of 7 in her hometown of Suffolk, Virginia. She practiced endless hours at a local gym, a nearby YMCA, and later at summer camps. That training helped her secure a spot on the U.S. Gymnastics Team, where she set a record score and won a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games. Then she participated in the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics before receiving a full athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia. In Athens, she won five NCAA Championships between 1991 and 1994. Hope received the 1991 Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top female collegiate gymnast. Spivey was the 1994 SEC Athlete of the Year, and earned All-American honors 11 times. During her collegiate career, she was awarded 27 perfect scores of 10.0 and helped UGA claim the 1993 National Championship. After graduation, Spivey began teaching gymnastics and opened her own facility in Valdosta.
CHARLIE WARD, JR.
Charlie Ward, Jr. was a two-sport standout in Thomasville helping Thomas County Central High School to back-to-back region titles in football and a state semi-final appearance in basketball. Ward signed at Florida State and continued to play two sports. On the football field, Charlie became one of the most decorated players in college history. Charlie won the Heisman Trophy in 1993 after throwing for 3,032 yards with 27 touchdowns helping guide the Seminoles to the school’s first-ever National Title. On the basketball court, Ward pushed the Seminoles to the brink of the 1993 Final Four. Charlie long held Seminole basketball records for steals in a game (9) and career (236) and ranked sixth all-time in assists (396) when he graduated. Ward passed over an NFL career and was drafted in 1994 by the New York Knicks of the NBA, who selected him as the 26th overall pick. His 12-year NBA career also included stops with San Antonio and Houston. He played in the 1999 NBA Finals while with the Knicks. Ward was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.