Bill Irby.jpg

Bill Irby

SYLACAUGA — The Comer Museum and Arts Center will host a celebration honoring the late William G. “Bill” Irby at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Irby, founder of the Sylacauga Boys Club, has been selected as the first member of the Comer Museum and Arts Center Hall of Fame, which will be highlighted on the museum’s stairwell, leading up to the second floor, according to a press release.

During Sunday’s ceremony, two framed artworks containing photographs and memorabilia of Irby’s life will be unveiled. The pieces were designed and framed by Home of Photography, the release notes. 

Bill's son, David Irby, Coach Earl Lewis and Archie Horton were instrumental in compiling the memorabilia and scheduling this event, museum officials add. 

Irby came to Sylacauga in the 1940s to work at the Powder Plant in Childersburg. 

Not long after moving to Sylacauga, Irby began organizing a boxing team.

As a boxer, he earned a scholarship to Tulane University and eventually had more than 100 fights, including 30 as a professional, the release notes. Last year, he was inducted into the Alabama Boxing Hall of Fame. 

“He quickly saw the need for a venue to teach not only boxing, but to have a place where Sylacauga youngsters could play and compete as well as learn life lessons under qualified supervision,” the release states. 

In the 1960s, Irby, along with others, spearheaded the fundraising to build the new Boys Club at its current location. The first phase of the building had only recently been completed when Irby and his wife were killed in an automobile accident in November 1971.

Irby also served was a Boy Scout leader; a leader in his church; a member of the Sylacauga Board of Education; an active supporter of the Old Cotton States Tennis Tournament; president of the Industrial Editors of America; and more. 

He was later employed by Avondale Mills as public relations director and editor of the Avondale Sun.

Sunday’s celebration is free and open to the public. 

The Comer Museum and Arts Center is at 711 N Broadway Ave. in Sylacauga. 

For more information, call 256-245-4016.