Leaders and Legends: James Max Woolly

James Max Woolly
Inducted 2005
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Max Woolly (1914-1997) was born in Arkansas and received his bachelors degree in 1936 from Hendrix College, his Masters degree from the University of Arkansas in 1941 and honorary Doctor of Laws from Hendrix College in 1970. He and his wife Kathlyn had three sons and six grandchildren.

James Max Woolly standing next to a Lion's Club road sign

The Woolly family moved to Little Rock, AR in 1939 where Dr. Woolly began a forty-three year career at the Arkansas School for the Blind, first as a much respected teacher and principal, and thirty five years as superintendent. During this time the school was known for its innovative educational and residential school programs. Dr. Woolly recognized the need for quality professional training and was among the first to employ fully trained orientation and mobility instructors and to demand advanced training for the faculty but also his home life staff. He was instrumental in spearheading the effort to develop three graduate programs at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in teacher personnel preparation, orientation and mobility, and rehabilitation of the blind.

ASB Administrators and families in front of main building (L to R: Beal Kidd and family, Finas Davis and family, James Max Woolly and family (1941)

Max Woolly was appreciated and respected by his colleagues for his strong character and determined resolve, indicators of a quality leader, accepted by all. Some phrases which have been used to describe him include: “a southern gentleman with a dry sense of humor,” “fully devoted to his mission in life,” “known for his quiet wisdom, honesty, integrity, fairness and concern for the welfare of others” and his “determination and ability to bring people together to solve problems.”

Kathlyn and James Max Woolly celebrating 60th wedding anniversary

He was president of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind from 1962 until 1964. As a member of the Board of Directors, he was the preeminent author of the original standards developed by the National Accreditation Council in the late 1960’s. For many years he served as an Ex Officio Trustee of the American Printing House for the Blind and on the Board of Trustees for the American Foundation for the Blind and as its vice-chairman in the late 80’s. While in Little Rock he was a member and “served on most of the committees” of the Winfield Methodist Church. He represented the United States in world organizations in Norway, Germany, Spain, France, and Guatemala and served on the boards of Lion’s World Services for the Blind and The Arkansas Light House for the Blind.

James Max Woolly with granddaughter Laura Woolly (1976)

His awards include the Anne Sullivan Centennial Award in 1966, the Mary K. Bauman award from AERBVI in 1990, the Migel Medal in 1978 presented by the American Foundation for the Blind, the Kentucky Colonel, and the AAWB Southwest Region award for outstanding achievement and leadership. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and a 33rd degree Mason.

James Max Woolly with Dr. Roy Kumpe, founder of Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind, now Lions World Services for the BlindJames Max Woolly at the Arkansas State Capitol with Governor Bill ClintonJames Max WoollyJames Max Woolly's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by Arkansas School for the Blind, Arkansas AER, Lions World Services for the Blind, AR Lighthouse for the Blind

About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Alison Currey
Being a Literature Students she loves to write and always kept working for the society and who really need a hand. Apart from writing she is an excellent singer herself. Have found her either reading or drawing in her free time. An inspiring personality you may want to follow at FredForum here.

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