In attempt to bring more life to the downtown area, a second mural has been completed in Boaz, this time honoring the community’s veterans.
Painted by Don Walker, the mural pays tribute to the city’s past mayors who served in the Armed Forces and two other veterans who died in action.
Wayne Hunt, of The History of Boaz, Al., said in 123 years, Boaz has had 24 elected mayors, and of those, only six were veterans. Within the painting, above the banner reading “Veterans of Boaz,” former mayors O.B. Hunter, Denson Bynum, Tom E. Cooper, B.B. Sanford, Billy Dyar and Charles Smith are pictured from left to right.
O.B. Hunter was mayor of Boaz from 1930-1932. Stationed in Texas, he served in the Army during World War I.
Denson Bynum was mayor from 1936-1944. He volunteered in the naval service during World War I.
Tom E. Cooper was mayor from 1948-1952. During World War II, he was one of the first married men to leave Boaz for service in the Army. According to “The Boaz Heritage,” written by Lee N. Allen and Catherine B. Allen, he served for two years in England and was discharged in 1945 as a staff sergeant.
B.B. “Sarge” Sanford was mayor from 1964-1972. He was a career military man who became widely known through Army recruitment. Sanford first served in the Army Corps of Engineers in the Pacific during World War II. He was mobilized through the Boaz National Guard unit in 1940. Shortly after getting a civilian job at Goodyear, Sanford reenlisted and was stationed in Gadsden as an Army recruiter. He later moved his office to Boaz in 1948, then to Birmingham and back to Boaz in the mid-1950s. Sanford eventually rejoined military service during the Korean War, and then returned home to be an Army recruiter with an office in Albertville. Sanford’s son, Bruce, also served as mayor from 1988-1996.
Billy Dyar was mayor from 1972-1988. He joined the Navy in 1942 as a teenager and saw immediate combat in major Pacific Naval Battles during World War II. As recorded by “The Boaz Heritage”: “His ship, the U.S.S. Monsoon 436, was sunk in battle. He remained afloat in the ocean for approximately 72 hours before being rescued as one of 15 survivors.”
Dyar was decorated with “several” naval honors before returning to civilian life.
Dyar is the late father of current mayor, David Dyar. Seeing his father honored in the mural for the first time was unforgettable experience, Dyar said.
“It was a warm feeling,” he said. “It was emotional for me … It was a good feeling.”
Dyar said he had no input on what the mural would look like; he and the council only gave the OK to paint it. Until honoring past mayors was mentioned to him, Dyar said he had no idea his father, among others, would be immortalized.
“I think it’s awesome,” Dyar said.
The last mayor featured in the mural is Charles Smith, who held the office of mayor from 1996-2000. He served in the Army for two years.
As bookends for the mural, portraits of the late Jimmy Harris, a veteran who died while serving in Korea, and Kenneth Lasseter, a veteran who died while serving in Vietnam, are featured at the bottom left and right corners, respectively.
To honor all of Boaz’s veterans, Hunt said a list of approximately 300 names would be added to the mural later. To have a veteran’s name listed, Hunt encouraged community members to call 256-302-2924 of visit The History of Boaz Al.’s Facebook page.
To be qualified, Hunt said the individual must have or had a Boaz address — either city or route. Also, a $25 donation is being requested for each veteran to help pay for the mural.
“We hope our efforts are a worthy tribute to their service,” Hunt said.
The mural is featured at the intersection of Main Street and Alabama Highway 168.