Alabama Academy of Honor

John C. Persons

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1972.

John Cecil Persons, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, began his business career in Birmingham in 1904 as cashier and cost accountant in the firm of Colonel G. T. Bush. Entering the University of Alabama in 1909, he also served as bursar and registrar before coming treasurer to the university his senior year. While attending school and working for the university he also served as a reporter for several newspapers and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. From his graduation in 1912 until World War I he was city attorney and assistant county attorney in Tuscaloosa, operated a 6,000 acre plantation and cotton ginning operation and entered the lumber business.

With the outbreak of World War I, John C. Persons began a distinguished miliary career. Serving overseas from 1917 to 1919 as captain and major in the 4th and 7th Infantry Divisions, in 1924 he was appointed lieutenant colonel in the Alabama National Guard. Promoted to brigadier general in 1930 he was made major general in l940 and lead the 31st Infantry Division in the new Guinea Campaigns and commanded the assault troops in the occupation of Morotai. He directed the reorganization of the Alabama National Guard following World War II retiring in 1948 as a lieutenant general.

General Persons continued his career in finance becoming vice-president of the First National Bank of Tuscaloosa in 1922, president of the Traders National Bank of Birmingham in 1927, executive vice-president and president of the American-Traders National Bank and in 1930 as president of the First National Bank of Birmingham. He became chairman of the board in 1943. He was also a director of the Alabama By-Products Corporation, Alabama Chemical Products Company, Alabama Great Southern Railroad Company of Washington, D. C., Alabama Power Company, Avondale Mills of Birmingham and Sylacauga. Protective Life Insurance Company of Birmingham, United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company of Baltimore, Twentieth Street Reality Company, Tutwiler Investment Company, Woodward Iron Company and was formerly a director of the Birmingham Advisor Committee, Birmingham Loan Agency of Reconstruction Finance Corporation; Advisory Committee National Emergency Council; Advisory Board, Small Loans Administration.

An active participant in civic affairs, he served as a director of the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Red Cross, and the Boys Club.

General Persons, now deceased, married the former Elonia Dudley Hutchinson and had three children: John Cecil (deceased), Elonia Nelson (Mrs. William K. McHenry, Jr.) and Alice Virginia (Mrs. Bruce H. Stewart).