North Okaloosa Family Heritage honors inductees at annual Baker Ceremony
BAKER — Three beloved North Okaloosa County residents were honored Saturday, June 20 by their inclusion on the Family Heritage Wall of Honor at the Baker Block Museum.
The late educator Caroline Baker Allen, late family physician Dr. George W.Barrow Jr., and journalist Roger Robinson joined the ranks of 54 other influential residents whose names are already engraved on plates mounted on the Wall of Honor, according to a press release.
CAROLINE BAKER ALLEN (1925-2005)
Nominated by Stephanie Holcombe, editor of the online Holt Enterprise News, Mrs. Allen graduated from Houston-Tollotson College in Texas and earned her masters degree from the University of West Florida.
Her 30-year teaching career began in 1949 at Drew School in Baker. When the school closed in 1954, she transferred to Carver-Hill High School, an all-Black school in Crestview, which closed upon desegregation in 1968.
Allen finished her career at Crestview High School, where she ultimately headed the business department until retiring in 1979. In 1981, her community service was recognized with her induction into the Okaloosa County Women’s Hall of Fame.
Allen died in a 2005 car accident as she returned from a high school reunion in Texas. Her husband, Sam, was Crestview’s first Black city councilman.
“She was an inspiration and a very kind soul,” museum Director Ann Spann said during the induction ceremony. “I know because I had her as a teacher.”
DR. GEORGE W. BARROW Jr. (1923-87)
Nominated by his daughter, Susan Barrow Smith, and Leon Curenton, who was one of the babies he delivered throughout the north county during his 32-year Crestview practice, Dr. Barrow received his M.D. from Emory University and served in the U.S. Army, the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve between 1943 and 1969.
After early practice in Winter Garden and Milton, Barrow returned to his Crestview hometown where he delivered babies, made house calls and cared for — and earned the affection of — countless local patients.
After a private practice on Pine Avenue, he joined Drs. Wayne and David Campbell and Lee Thigpen at the Crestview Medical Clinic, from which he retired in 1987 after a 40-year lifetime practice.
Barrow was a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church and enjoyed fishing and camping, and raising cattle and farming. He and his wife, Mary, have four children and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
“He was certainly well-known, respected and loved in the community,” Spann said.
ROGER ROBINSON (1948-)
Nominated by North Okaloosa Historical Association member Phyllis Enzor, Roger Robinson’s journalism career began under his step-father, Allen Robinson, a local print and radio journalist, for whom Roger would dictate articles by telephone to the Associated Press and several neighboring newspapers.
Roger also followed the footsteps of his birth dad, Joe Taylor, as a top baseball player, playing first for Crestview High School and then for Okaloosa-Walton Junior College (today’s Northwest Florida State College).
Reviving his journalism career in 1971, Roger first served as a reporter for the Okaloosa News Journal before becoming founding editor of the Okaloosa Consumer Bulletin, which evolved into today’s Crestview News Bulletin.
In 1978, he served as a Fort Walton Beach and Milton reporter for the Pensacola News Journal, where he became an award-winning journalist.
Switching to politics, Roger first worked for state Sen. W.D. Childers, then on the 2000 campaign to elect Dr. Durrell Peaden to fill Sen. Childers’ seat. Peaden appointed Roger as his chief of staff. Roger married the former Linda Stokes in 1973.
“He is one of those people you can always count on,” Enzor said.
The Baker Block Museum and its Henderson Heritage Park are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and every third Saturday. It is on the corner of State Road 4 and Florida Route 189 in Baker.