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New class revealed for 2024 Hall of Pride


The Tallassee High School Alumni Association has released the names of its 2024 class for the Hall of Pride. There will be four new inductees.

The class includes; the late Mr. Stacy Goss of the Class of 1965, Ms. Joan O'Daniel of the Class of 1964, Mrs. Bernice Paschal Rivers Barton-Simmons Cooper of the Class of 1970 and Mrs. Susan Schonberger Swagler of Class of 1982.

The ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 9 at 12:45 p.m. at Tallassee High School Performing Arts Center.



Mr. Stacy Phillip Goss (1947-2023)
Class of 1965
Inducted 2024

Stacy Phillip Goss, THS Class of 1965, was born into a musical family. Though he was the first in the family to receive any formal musical training, that training only magnified the talent that had been passed on to him.

That talent was first obvious in high school band, where he earned selection to All-State White and Red Bands, and All-State Orchestra, under the tutelage of Colonel Ed Watkins. More importantly, that’s where he met his future wife, Becky. At Auburn University, Stacy was trumpet section leader for the AU Marching Band, and a member of the famed Auburn Knights Dance Orchestra. Those same trumpet skills later afforded him a position as studio musician at FAME Recording Studios, where he backed up top artists who came to record at The Shoals.

But his tremendous talent as a professional musician is not Stacy’s true legacy. That legacy lies in his years as a high school band director and mentor for a multitude of young people. His success was their success.

Straight out of college, he accepted a job at the newly-opened Brooks High School in Athens, Alabama. In his five years there, he grew the band from 58 first-year music students, to 140 Junior- and High- School students. Within one year, he fielded the school’s first-ever marching band and the next year the Concert Band received highest-possible ratings. Those numbers and accomplishments were precursor to what he was able to accomplish at every school at which he taught. Simply put, Stacy Goss had that rare and tremendous gift – he was a master at attracting students and increasing participation, while never failing to build superior-quality musical groups.

From Brooks, he moved to Albertville High School, to begin a 26-year career that made him legendary, building that band to over 380 in the band program. His marching bands consistently won highest-possible ratings at marching festivals and jazz ensemble contests, marched in the Governor’s Inaugural Parade, won parade competitions in New Orleans and Atlanta, marched three times in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performed at college and pro-football games, at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, and were selected as one of four bands from across the nation for the Coca Cola Centennial Celebration in Atlanta.

The City of Albertville awarded him a Key to the City and named him an “Honorary Lieutenant Colonel” for the city in 1979, and “Citizen of the Year” in 1992.

Stacy retired from Albertville so he and Becky could move to Texas to be near their daughter and her family. But retirement did not last long, as he was persuaded to help a private school in need of a director. In typical Stacy fashion, in just a couple of years, he took a band that had never won at even the district level, to a first-place finish at state level.

Stacy and Becky moved back to Alabama to build their retirement home in 2022. Tragically, he passed away after a short illness on June 15, 2023.

Stacy’s legacy and the reason for his success can be summed up by this quote: "At Brooks, Albertville, and Carrollton Christian, it was my students that achieved superior ratings, won state championships, won festivals, participated in multiple Macy's Parades, got standing ovations etc. My contribution was that I cared about them very much."


Ms. Joan O’Daniel
Class of 1964
Inducted 2024

Joan O’Daniel was born on August 27, 1946, in Eclectic, Alabama, to Mae and Lamar (GIP) O’Daniel.

Joan was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck seven times and the doctors did not think she would live, but she proved her strength of spirit from the very beginning. The doctors were perplexed at her condition and misdiagnosed her several times before they decided that Joan had cerebral palsy. Joan conquered the challenge of walking at age three. Her parents struggled with whether to enroll Joan in the public school system, but they ultimately made the courageous decision to enroll Joan into Kent Elementary School where she attended until the ninth grade. Mrs. O’Daniel worked in the lunchroom at the school so she could feed Joan at lunch as Joan could not feed herself at that time. Eventually, learning to feed herself was one of the many challenges Joan faced and conquered.

Joan finished at Kent in 1961 and graduated from Tallassee High School in 1964. After high school Joan enrolled in Snead State Community College in Boaz. She transferred to the University of Alabama after one year at Snead. She was discussing her classes for her third year and asked about fulfilling her requirement to student teach when her advisor told her she would not be allowed to student teach due to her physical limitations. Joan was devastated, but she got back up and kept trying. She found a home at Auburn University and, with the help of Viranda Schuessler, the head of Student Personnel, and Louise Miles, the head of Library Science, they worked out a double major for Joan in Social Sciences and Library Science.

Joan graduated in the spring of 1969 with a double major in social sciences and library sciences and earned her master’s degree in education media. She became the media specialist at Stanhope Elmore High school in the fall of 1969 and taught library skills for 12 years. Joan then transferred to Millbrook Junior High where she remained for 8 years until she retired in 1989. While living in Millbrook, Joan participated in many community activities and was the Vice President and Treasurer of the National Association for the Physically Handicapped located in Montgomery. As an officer of this Association Joan visited local businesses in Montgomery to bring awareness and provide educational programs regarding the physically handicapped and their needs.

After retirement, Joan lived on Lake Martin with her parents and then they moved to Tallassee in 1991. She lived with her sister and brother in law, Judy and Sonny Hornsby, in Tallassee for a few years. While in Tallassee Joan was an active member of The First Baptist Church where she enjoyed attending her Sunday school class, and volunteered at the Tallassee Community Library. Joan moved to Birmingham in 2005 and lives at Fairhaven Nursing Home.

Joan received the Handicap Professional Woman of The Year award in 1972; the Alabama Rehabilitation Association Achievement award in 1975; and the Alabama Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club Women of Achievement Recognition Certificate in 1978.

She still loves to play cards with her hand made wooden card holder and go to the movies and attend concerts. Joan has a handicapped accessible van and her caregivers and family members take her where she needs to go. Joan has often said ”I hate to say….why me Lord?

I’ve always tried to play the hand that he dealt me.”


Mrs. Bernice Paschal Rivers Barton-Simmons Cooper
Class of 1970
Inducted 2024

Bernice Paschal Rivers Barton-Simmons Cooper was born on July 16, 1952 to Mary Barton Carr at Community Hospital in East Tallassee, Alabama, but reared by her adoptive grandparents Elma Thompson, a housekeeper for Mr. and Mrs. Roberts Blount at Seven Gables, and Chester Paschal, a textile worker for Mt. Vernon Mills. Her father was Edward Crawford Cooper, who was the quarterback at R. R. Moton and graduated in 1951. Mrs. Simmons spent the first part of her high school career at R. R. Moton High School where she participated in the choir, played softball, was a member of the drama class and was treasurer on the Student Government Association.

While there were six other Black students to integrate Tallassee City Schools, two of whom were her sisters, Mrs. Simmons was the only Black student to integrate THS (1965). While at THS, she excelled in track and field, volleyball, the civic squad, and gymnastics. She was given a standing ovation for her rendition of “Rambling Rose” during her class play, “Girl Crazy.”

After high school, Mrs. Simmons attended Southern Community College in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, for a degree in nursing and Central Florida Criminal Justice Institute for Correction Officer’s certification. She has been a nurse for over 45 years and retired from the State of Florida and Orange County Corrections Department. Her nursing career includes gerontology, Ob-Gyn, acute care, home health coordinator, mental health counselor, community health, clinical evening supervisor, IV therapy instructor, CPR instructor, HIV counselor, certified grief counselor, and Fair Practice Coordinator for the American Federation of Government Employees.

Mrs. Simmons married Alford Rivers when she was a senior in high school and to this union 3 children were born, Alfred, Shawna, and Jonathan Rivers, all of whom attended THS. She is currently married to James Simmons, a blind, disabled American Vietnam veteran, and with him came 5 children. As of today, they are the proud parents of 8 children, 26 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Simmons currently lives in Quincy, Florida, where she is a member, treasurer, and steward for Steward Temple AME Church, Eleventh District Women Missionary Society, Florida A&M University supporter, Find-A-Grave volunteer, Quincy-Monticello District Lay Organization, treasurer for Unit 217 of the American Legion Auxiliary, Veterans Administration caregiver and community activist for equal rights, voting rights, women’s rights and human rights, here and around the world.

Mrs. Simmons enjoys gardening, photography, shopping and her family. Her philosophy proclaims that “God does not promise a calm passage, but a safe landing.” Her favorite song is “Precious Lord, Take my Hand,” and her favorite scripture is John 9:4. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is okay. For night cometh, when no man can work.”

In his letter of recommendation for Mrs. Simmons, Macon County Commission chairman and former dean of Southern Vocational Community College, said, “Bernice is a perfect example of a servant professional who dedicated her talent and commitment to service to mankind. I am impressed by her dedication to her spiritual calling and how she has never wavered in her faith in God.”


Susan Schonberger Swagler
Class of 1982
Inducted 2024

Susan Schonberger Swagler is a 1982 graduate of Tallassee High School. During her time at THS, she was a varsity cheerleader, served on the yearbook and newspaper staffs and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Susan graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1986 with a B.A. in English. She has also studied at The Legal Foundation for Planning and Zoning in Alabama, located at the University of North Alabama, Alabama Planning Institute, and has had ethics training from the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Susan “cut her teeth” in journalism at the Alabama Journal in Montgomery, working as a reporter there form 1985 to 1987. She then spent two years in Tampa, Florida, at the Tampa Tribune, before returning to Alabama, accepting a job with The Birmingham News. She became the restaurant reviewer for the newspaper in 1996 and took on another role as book columnist in 1997. She left The Birmingham News in 2008.

During her time at The Birmingham News, she also was the book columnist for Portico Magazine and Birmingham magazine, accepting the position in 2006. Her final columns ran in 2017.

Susan is a monthly contributor to WBRC Fox 6, hosting a live segment on books (2013-present), is food and lifestyle writer for Alabama News Network, and has her own blog about food, travel and lifestyle,

Susan’s record of service to her community is remarkable. She has served as a Jefferson county election official since 2017, and served on the Mountain Brook Planning Commission from 2007 to 2018. One of the noteworthy projects the commission undertook while she was on the board was the current Master Plan of expansion and design and city planning. During her time on the commission, the commission worked on the planning process and initial build of the multi-use Lane Parke development in Mountain Brook and the new Piggly Wiggly in Crestline Village.

Susan served as secretary, vice chair and chair during her tenure and directed the commission to become fully certified in ethics training.

Susan was appointed to the Board of Trustees for Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest in January, 2023. As a member, she has helped craft the library’s policy regarding book challenges, helped fundraise for the summer reading program, and organized an event to thank the donors. She also represented the board at the American Library Association conference.

Susan also served on the Literacy Council of Central Alabama Board of Directors from 2005 to 2010. During this time the board worked on expanding programming to teach more adults in Alabama to read. Her fundraising efforts included hosting visiting authors from across the country, some on the New York Times bestseller list, in beautiful homes for book readings and cocktail parties.

Susan is a founding member of the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), a worldwide philanthropic and professional organization of women leaders in food and hospitality. The Birmingham chapter is 10 years old, and in that time, they have awarded nearly $160,000.00 in entrepreneurial grants to women across Alabama to build or expand their culinary-related businesses, and have awarded scholarships to women at four-year universities and community colleges who are pursuing degrees in culinary arts. They also mentor other women and work with non-profits such as The Community Food Bank of Central Alabama (Susan heads the volunteer work there), Girlspring, which is an in-person and online community that nurtures girls, and The WellHouse, which offers support to women who have been sex-trafficked.

Susan and her husband, Rick, love to travel and she is able to incorporate her adventures into her blog. Her most recent trip was to Iceland. She researched and planned a 10-day trip that included hiking to an active volcano, touring on an Icelandic horse, snorkeling between tetonic plates, and chasing waterfalls. She and her husband have traveled extensively in Germany, and her travels have taken her to France and the Czech Republic. New Orleans is one of her favorite places here in the United States, and she’s hiked deserts, mountains and slot canyons throughout Utah.

One of Susan’s recent stories was on Wild Flour Bakery, which is located in Waverly, Alabama close to her hometown.