Maude L. Whatley, 1892-1989

Whatley, Maude.jpg


Maude L. Whatley, 1892-1989


Civic leaders


In 1989, longtime West Alabama teacher and civic worker Maude Whatley died. Whatley had spent more than 50 years as an employee of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education as a teacher and later as principal of Central School. Even after her retirement, Whatley tutored adults. Whatley once said that she may have gotten her ambition from her grandfather, a slave who taught himself to read.

Whatley was the first black woman educator with a bachelor’s degree in Tuscaloosa’s school system. She was also the first black teacher in the system to receive an AA teaching certificate from Columbia University in New York City and she received some form of education from 11 different institutions.

Whatley was described as a strong disciplinarian, high-principled and stern, but caring.

Whatley served in many other areas of the community. Particularly interested in the health needs of the medically underserved community, Whatley helped establish what became the Maude L. Whatley Health Center in 1981 in west Tuscaloosa. The building was expanded in 1989 and again in 2012. A dental center was opened in 2006.

Maude Whatley Health Services expanded to 12 locations in seven counties of West Alabama and serves about 30,000 patients.

In an editorial after her death, The Tuscaloosa News said evidence of Maude Whatley’s efforts would remain with the thousands of students and children she affected; members at First African Baptist Church where she was a lifetime member, a superintendent and Sunday School teacher; and the civic causes she championed.

Whatley was a role model for many citizens according to Tuscaloosan Charles Steele, whose mother was a student of Whatley’s. “She exemplified discipline, dedication, integrity, and commitment to mankind.”

In 2001, she was inducted posthumously into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the first year of the award that was designed to honor citizens who had made long-term, significant contributions to the development of the county while at the same time celebrating the community's history and heritage.


Tuscaloosa News Archive
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama


Brenda Harris (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

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