DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) — The 'Slingluff' name is associated with insurance, but the man who once ran the business and was named a Dothan business hall of famer, was also passionate about education.
The people who knew Morris Slingluff best say his legacy is his dedication to Dothan schools. In fact an elementary school is named after him.
"I know we would not be the school system we are today if he did not have that vision,” said Dothan Municipal Judge Rose Gordon, who was involved in a grassroots movement with Slingluff around 2008.
Gordon added that Slingluff called her one day to tell her that God wanted her to join him in a movement to improve public schools with community involvement, which was called, "Yes We Can! Dothan."
"We were the first program to target not the teachers, not the principals, not the educators and not the people who were traditionally involved in education, we involved the community,” said Gordon. “This is their school system and the success of our city is directly tied to the success of our children."
Slingluff believed in the public school system and that any child can grow up to be successful through it, just like Judge Gordon. Her success story was enough to get her on board. Gordon and Slingluff were both determined that her success story can be everyone's story. She says her family could not have afforded private school.
"I think that's why he chose me, I didn't see it at that time, but I really think I was a poster child for the success of our public school system."
Slingluff was an active member of the Dothan Multi-Racial Group and served on the Dothan City School board for many years. He was a supportive father of three and watched his children go through the Dothan school system, just like he did.
"When he left the school board, we were all coming up in the system, and he was always at all the PTO meetings, he always kept his finger on the pulse so to speak, of what was going on in the schools,” said his son Benjamin Slingluff.
He adds that there was something his father did just before his death in 2010 that not many people knew about him.
"Just three months prior to his death, he was reading every Wednesday to a child at Landmark Elementary School,” added Slingluff,
He would read an hour to a third grade child who was struggling academically.
Slingluff passed away after fighting cancer. Just a few months after, the school board proposed to re-name one of Landmark Elementary School's centers after Slingluff.
"Mr. Chris Maddox made a motion to name the whole school after him, and they all approved it. Education was very important to him, and the city realized that,” added Slingluff.
And Landmark was re-named Morris Slingluff Elementary School. Many believe, he was the most accomplished education activist the city ever saw.
"If I were Catholic, I would say he should be beatified and made a saint,” added Gordon.
Slingluff had many other achievements outside of education. He won the future masters in 1959, was Auburn University's 1963 All American Golfer and became Dothan’s Business Hall of Famer in 2013.