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Harry Brandt Ayers

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1991 and 2002.

Anniston, Alabama, is the birthplace of Harry Brandt Ayers, who arrived in that Calhoun County community on April 8, 1935, the son of Colonel and Mrs. Harry Mell Ayers.

Brandt Ayers received his grammar school education in his native Anniston and his preparatory education at Wooton School in Danbury, Connecticut. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1959. Two years of his life were spent in the service of his country in the United States Navy.

Brandt Ayers chose the field of journalism for a career. Among the first assignments he accepted was that of a capitol and legislative reporter for the Raleigh (N.C.) Times.

He married Josephine Peoples Ehringhaus of Raleigh, on December 9, 1961. They are the parents of one daughter, Margaret.

Mr. Ayers was the editor and publisher of The Anniston Star. Time Magazine referred to this newspaper as "one of the two best small newspapers in the United States." In addition to his interest in The Star, he was co-owner of The Daily Home of Talladega, The Jacksonville (Alabama) News, The Oxford Sun, and The Piedmont Journal. Brandt Ayers also wrote a syndicated column entitled "Out Here" carried by some thirty newspapers. He also wrote articles for the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Southern Living, and the Washington Post.

During 1967-68 he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and in that same time frame he was named Distinguished Journalism Graduate of the University of Alabama. In 1977 Mr. Ayers became the first Southern publisher to receive the Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee. In 1980 he was honored by the Alabama Association of Colleges and Universities for "exemplary dedication to higher education." In 1984 Brandt Ayers accepted an invitation to visit the Republic of China as a guest of Zinhau News Agency. In 1986 he participated in the exchange of journalists from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and The Union of Soviet Journalists. In 1985 he spent two weeks in Japan as a guest of Japan's Economic and Social Affairs Institute and returned to Japan in 1988 with a delegation from the International Press Institute.

Brandt Ayers lectured on foreign and domestic affairs at Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Capetown, Natal University, and the University of Nairobi. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, a trustee of the Southern Center for International Studies, and was appointed by President Carter to the Board of Foreign Scholarships (the International Fullbright Board.)

Harry Brandt Ayers was an active churchman and a dedicated civic leader.

In July, 2000, Mr. Ayers was appointed by Gov. Don Siegelman as chairman of the United Nations Day for Alabama and was inducted into the University of Alabama's Communication Hall of Fame in October, 2000.

Harry Brandt Ayers died on May 3, 2020.

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