The City of Wilmington’s Commission on African American History recognized six living legends during a celebration on Feb. 17, 2018.
The event was held in the spirit of the Commission’s mission, which is to plan, develop and implement community projects that recognize and increase the awareness of the contributions of African Americans to Wilmington’s history; to encourage and assist African American history; and to recognize sites in the community that are significant to African American History.
The six recipients who were selected have shown outstanding leadership with a keen vision to help people succeed in life, professional contributions, as well as many accomplishments improving our community, making it a better place for all of us to live.
The Living Legends are:
Dorothy Sheridan DeShields
Dorothy Sheridan DeShields is a retired two-term member of the New Hanover County Board of Education, a retired New Hanover County School System Administrator and a former part-time instructor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the Watson School of Education. She was principal at Gregory School of Science, Mathematics and Technology where, during her twelve-year tenure, she and her staff were instrumental in the development and implementation of a highly effective, award-winning magnet program. DeShields is a proud graduate of the former Williston Senior High School and Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She received a Masters Degree in Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She has been very active in the community and has served on several boards and committees. DeShields is a life member of the NAACP, a member of Alpha Psi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and an Alumnae member of the Wilmington, NC Chapter of The Links, Inc. DeShields is a member of Mount Olive AME Church where she served on the Steward Board, the Sunday School Board, the Women’s Missionary Society and Director of the Tutoring Program. She has one son and two granddaughters
Robert Fuller Garrison, Sr.
Robert Fuller Garrison, Sr. was born and raised in Onslow County. He is a graduate of South Pender High School and Shaw University, where he attended on a full baseball scholarship. Garrison served a tour of duty in the United States Army in the Republic of South Vietnam. He attended graduate school at Syracuse University, receiving a Masters of Arts in Recreation Administration. Currently retired from the North Carolina Army National Guard and the City of Wilmington Recreation Department, he now works with a youth male mentoring program at Pender High School. Garrison is a member of Union Bethel AME Church in Hampstead; a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; a member of Shaw University Alumni Club; and a member of Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
Percy Glaspie has been married to Sarah Margaret Tindall for almost 70 years. He is the father of 6 children, and the grandfather of many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Glaspie is a lifelong member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church where he served as Financial Treasurer for over 15 years; member of the Senior Choir; Groundskeeper for 20 years; Deacon; and currently serves as the Deacon Emeritus. Glaspie retired from the Cape Fear Country Club after working as a Grounds Supervisor for more than 52 years. He was the first black honorary member of Cape Fear County Club. He is an honorary member of the Ladies Garden Club and served as Treasurer and Master Mason of Lodge 561 of East Wilmington. Glaspie started playing golf more than 60 years ago by watching the golfers at the country club. He has played on courses from New York to Montego Bay, winning more than 150 trophies, prizes and awards. He played golf with many prominent African Americans, including Dr. Upperman, Dr. Eaton, Althea Gibson and Dr. Roane. Glaspie is a member and former Treasurer of the Port City Golf Association where he has mentored and taught young black golfers the game of golf.
Amelia Rhames Martin
Amelia Rhames Martin was born in Wilmington, NC and graduated from Williston Senior High in 1956. She was a nurse at Community Hospital from 1962 to 1965. She then moved to James Walker Hospital in 1965, where she was the second African-American nurse to integrate the hospital. In 1967, she was one of the first nurses to transfer to the brand new New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC). Martin continued her career as a psychiatric nurse on the 7th floor and became an advocate for mental health patients. In 1972, Martin moved to South Eastern Mental Health Center (SEMHC) where she served as Director of Outpatient Services. While there, she: started their day treatment program; published a manual entitled, “The Right to Know: A Therapist’s Guide to Medication Education;” served as liaison to Cherry Hospital; and, helped write General Statute 137 on committed patients. In 1980, she returned to NHRMC but continued with SEMHC. At NHRMC, she served in the capacities of Nurse Coordinator, Nurse Manager and Nursing Supervisor. Martin is a member of the Homicide Support Group for New Hanover and Pender Counties and was instrumental in starting the Victims’ Wall in the D.A.’s Office. She has received numerous awards/certificates. Martin is a member of St. Phillip’s AME Church where she serve on numerous boards/auxiliaries.
Inez Sophia Richardson
Inez Sophia Richardson is a native Wilmingtonian and graduate of Williston Industrial School “Class of 1937.” She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Winston-Salem Teacher’s College and a Masters of Arts Degree in 1945. Richardson shared her training and experiences with students and colleagues at Williston Industrial School and Williston Junior High School. She also assumed the duties of Dean of Girls, Guidance Counselor and Assistant Principal at Williston Junior High School. She was the first assistant principal of the newly-constructed M.C.S. Noble Junior High School. Richardson is a Golden Soror and holds a life membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as well as the National Education Association and the Retired Teachers of the Cape Fear Area. Many years of service have been given as a member of the Board of Directors for Elderhaus and Tapestry Theater. As a life-long member of St. Luke AMEZ Church, she has served as a choir member, Girl Scout Volunteer, church historian and worker in the Department of Christian Education. Numerous certificates of appreciation, plaques and awards have been presented for her 55 years of service to education and the community.
Linda Upperman-Smith is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, M.S.W. (1982); the University of Southern California, M.L.S. (1976); and, Spelman College, B.A. in French, Minor in Secondary Education (1972). She currently is a capacity building coach and consultant at Linda Upperman-Smith and Associates, LLC. She had retired from 1996 to 1998, and 1999 to 2012. Se served as the Interim Director, Office of Minority Affairs, August 1998 to May 1999 at UNCW and was in private clinical social work practice, serving as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California. Upperman-Smith was a member of the American Board of Examiners in Social Work (ABESW) in Hawthorne, California from 1986 to 1996; served as a psychiatric social worker for Los Angeles County Mental Health Child and Adolescent Day Treatment Program in Long Beach, California from 1984 to 1986; was a social worker at the Psychiatric Clinic for Youth in Long Beach, California from 1983-1984; a social worker for the Children’s Home Society in Los Angeles, California from 1982 to 1983; a serials librarian for O’Melveny and Meyers Law Offices Los Angeles, California from 1978 to 1980; and, a records librarian at the NASA Industrial Application Center in the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California from 1976 to 1977. Upperman-Smith currently is Chairperson for “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” an annual fundraiser to increase the minority presence at UNCW.