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Avery YMCA Director Trey Oakley stands with those accepting the Hall of Legends awards: Martha Guy, Sherman Pritchard, Rachel Deal, Sam Ray, Jackie Burleson, Denise Burleson and Sam Cartner.
Photo by Jeremy Scott

Originally published: 2012-08-01 10:51:56
Last modified: 2012-08-01 10:51:56

Hall of Legends honors extraordinary Avery County citizens

Jeremy Scott (

Avery County has been home to many exemplary citizens. The county has been around for more than 100 years and in that time it has developed a rich history thanks in part to the hard work and contributions from its citizens. These unsung heroes have worked thanklessly as they have strived to make a difference in the county. That is why this past Sunday, July 29, a ceremony was held to honor these contributors to the county.
The inaugural Martha Guy Hall of Legends Inductee Ceremony, held at the Hugh Chapman Center, is an effort to thank the many people of Avery County who have shaped it into what it is today. The 10 people who were inducted received a small trophy and had their names placed on a plaque that will grow with each year as new honorees are added. The 10 honored at the ceremony were the 10 who were honored at the Centennial Celebration event last year: Martha Guy, John Blackburn, Addie Barrier, Bertie Burleson, Sam Ray, Tommy Burleson, Sam Cartner, Rachel Deal, Sherman Pritchard and Juanita Shoemaker. Not all inductees could attend the ceremony, however their family members were there to accept the award.
The ceremony was an idea proposed by Hall of Legends committee board member John Phillips. The idea was proposed to the YMCA board as an opportunity to provide a community outreach and fundraising event. In addition, the presence of an awards ceremony was something that Phillips noticed that Avery County lacked.
“You see other counties do it; you see other organizations have a Hall of Fame … ” Phillips said. “There had been enough people making enough significant contributions to have a Hall of Legends.”
Reaction to the Hall of Legends has been very positive. Inductee and founder of The Avery Journal-Times, Sherman Pritchard, said “I think it’s fantastic … it should have been done a long time ago. There are people who have done an awful lot more than I have.”
“It’s a great accomplishment. It’s not just my accomplishment of the people in the county,” Inductee Rachel Deal said of the honor. “It takes the people to accomplish things within a county.”
Jackie Burleson, daughter of Juanita Shoemaker, who accepted the award on her mother’s behalf, said,  “I’m sorry she (Shoemaker) couldn’t be here because she would be very honored.” Of the ceremony, Burleson said, “It’s good … it brings people together.”
“I think it’s great, I’m glad they’re going to continue this … “ said inductee Sam Ray. “Avery County has needed this for a long time.”
Phillips hopes to continue this tradition for years to come. Requests will be issued out across Avery County to nominate inductees for next year’s ceremony. Phillips hopes the event will continue on, though he notes that it may become more difficult to find enough worthwhile inductees as years pass. “Next year is when it’s going to get hard,” Phillips said. “We started something, and I hope it’s built to last.”