Boy Scouts honor pair of local supporters

Ronnie Watkins, former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings and Fred Sington, Jr. (pictured, from left) gather for a photo after Watkins and Sington were honored at the annual Boy Scouts of America American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (Apr. 15) at the Pitman Theater in Gadsden. Ronnie Watkins, former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings and Fred Sington, Jr. (pictured, from left) gather for a photo after Watkins and Sington were honored at the annual Boy Scouts of America American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (Apr. 15) at the Pitman Theater in Gadsden.

By Mike Goodson/Staff Correspondent

The Lookout Mountain Division of the Boy Scouts of America held its annual Etowah County American Values Luncheon on Tuesday (April 15) at Gadsden’s Pitman Theatre.

Honorees at this year’s luncheon were former Gadsden businessman Fred Sington, Jr. and local businessman Ronnie Watkins. Both men were recognized for their contributions to scouting and to the community. 

Former University of Alabama head football coach Gene Stallings gave the keynote address.

The Honorable William Allen Millican, Etowah County Circuit Judge, introduced the honorees.

Born in 1935, Sington established himself as a top offensive lineman while playing at Birmingham’s Ramsay High School, where he graduated in 1953.

Sington twice was named all-state, and as a senior was named All-Southern and All-America.

He entered the University of Alabama in 1953 on scholarship.

In 1953 Sington played in eight freshman games, five “B” games and traveled with the varsity for a total of 23 games. Sington also played in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, a game remembered because the Crimson Tide’s Tommy Lewis came off of the bench to tackle a Rice University running back who was running for a touchdown.

Following his playing days, Sington completed his law degree at Cornell University. He practiced law for some time in New Mexico before returning to Alabama to work in the family business, a chain of sporting goods stores. Sington also broadcasted high school football on the radio for many years.

Watkins, who has made Gadsden his home for several years and owns Ronnie Watkins Ford dealership, noted that the Boy Scouts are a big part of the foundation of what makes our country great. 

“We need more adults to be involved in this worth-while organization,” Watkins said.

Stallings spoke of the need for the Boy Scouts and the impact that men have on the members of each scout troop. 

“Men spend 40 hours a week at work, 50 hours sleeping and about 2 ½ minutes a day with their children; is there any doubt we need Boy Scouts?” Stallings asked.

Stallings spoke of the impact that a single individual can have and the amount of people one person can touch in his/her lifetime. He also spoke of his own son, John Mark Stallings, and the number of people his life touched. 

“Little Johnny was just a little boy with Downs Syndrome, but he touched hundreds of people. Little Johnny never complained, loved Alabama football and loved people in general. This little boy had an impact on people, and many other people can do the same if they will just get involved.”

The luncheon was successful in raising operating funds for the Lookout Mountain District of the Boy Scouts of America. Before the luncheon, $7,000 had been raised, and the luncheon brought in more than $15,000 in additional funds.

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