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Tribute To Janice “Teko” Wiseman

Rep. Jo Bonner

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Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer this tribute to Janice ``Teko'' Wiseman, a native of Mobile, AL, who recently passed away at the age of 83. She spent her life in active service to her community and her family.

Married for 62 years, Teko and her husband, Dr. Hollis Wiseman, originally met as high school sweethearts.

During the 1960's--a decade of turmoil in Alabama--Teko and Hollis set an example of courage and commitment to justice and the city they loved by founding ABLE (Alabamians Behind Local Education), an organization to help peacefully integrate the Mobile County schools. Although opposed by some political leaders at the time, the Wisemans stood fast and eventually saw their goals realized. Their efforts received international attention on a Voice of America broadcast.

In 1983, Teko helped found Keep Mobile Beautiful and worked as its coordinator for ten years. Her energy and creativity resulted in a beautification competition called No More Eyesore, which engaged residents from schoolchildren to bank presidents to clean up and beautify the ugliest eyesores around town. Other projects included planting the intersection of I-65 and I-10 and landscaping the entrance to Bankhead Tunnel. Her impact on the city is visible to this day.

When they retired twenty years ago, Teko and Hollis moved to Fairhope, Alabama. There, Hollis, who had built the University of South Alabama Neonatal Intensive Care Unit named in his honor, became president of the Fairhope Library Board and spearheaded the drive to raise approximately seven million dollars to build the current state of the art library.

Meanwhile, Teko Wiseman turned her attention to the lack of sidewalks along the Bay and conceived a project to building a hike/bike trail beginning at the Battleship on the Causeway and extending along the Eastern Shore to Weeks Bay. The organization she founded in 1995 to realize this dream, the Eastern Shore Trailblazers, has raised over $6.5 million through private donations and grants. The 32 mile trail is only two miles short of completion.

Mr. Speaker, Teko was a treasure to South Alabama and her loss is one that is shared by our entire community.

I offer my heartfelt condolences to her husband, Hollis; her sister, Merrellyn Miller; their six children, Holly Wiseman, Merrell Wiseman, Valery De Laney, Carole Norden, Jay Wiseman, and David Wiseman; and their six grandchildren and many friends. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.