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Alumni Weekend

By Harold Bearden
Sunday, June 7, 2015 | 12:06 AM



The annual Haleyville High School Alumni Weekend started with a great parade and ended with a luncheon at the Haleyville Elementary School. The largest attendance was by the Class of 1965, celebrating their 50th year. Debbie Wood, Alumni Associaton Vice President, presented the Alumnus of the Year awawrd tp Ray Pate. The Service and Dedication Award went to Fay Cummings for her work with Backpack Ministry. 

Alumunis of the Year Ray Pate   Fay Cummings, Service and Dedication
HHS Class of 1965
HHS Class of 1955

Read the background on Alumus of the Year Ray Pate by Melica Allen and Fay Cummings and her work with Backpack Ministries from Debbie Wood.


Ray Pate

Many miles have been traveled by this year’s Alumnus of the Year since his graduation in 1978 from Haleyville High School. Ray Pate started his journey at the University of Alabama, where he earned his bachelor of science in accounting and finance. After graduation in 1982, he went to work for the Dupont Family as their accountant for three  years with Wilmon Timberlands.

Ray began working for ProAssurance Insurance in 1985 as  a controller. He attended night school at Birmingham Southern  to earn his master of arts in public and private management in record time from 1986-88, while working for ProAssurance. It was during this time that his daughter, Heather, was born.

In 1988, he took his family and went to Richmond, Virgina, to go to work for The Virginian Insurance Reciprocal as vice-president until 1993.

He once again packed up and headed south to Jacksonville, Florida, as vice president of operations for the Florida Physicians Insurance Co.

Ray had set a goal of becoming a CEO of a company by the time his was 35, a goal he had not told anyone about.

Working very hard in the insurance industry, he received a call after being there two years from a recruiter wanting to know if he would like to be a CEO of a company in Washington, DC. Ray took the job in Jan. 1, 1996, and he turned 36 one month later. He had reached his goal, but little did he know what he was getting himself into. The company was not fiscally healthy. “I guess they had been turned down by other seasoned CEOs when they found me,” Ray noted. But Ray, true to form, turned National Capital Reciprocal Insurance Company from a company struggling to survive to going public on NASDAQ in just three years.  

Growing it substantially, another public offering was made in 2003. By 2005, the company had assets of more than $100 million. The company was sold to ProAssurance, the same place he began his insurance career, in 2005, a New York Exchange company.

While working in the Washington, DC area, he met a beautiful lady named Karen and they were married. The couple’s son Tripp was born in 2001, and he is now 14.

From 2005-2010, Ray worked out of London, England, as executive vice-president and director of BMS Intermediaries,  a company that provides comprehensive, customized solutions in the fields of wholesale, reinsurance and direct insurance. 

His entrepreneurial spirit, however, took over in 2010 and he started Assure Holding Corp., capitalizing the venture. The company took on partners and Ray now owns 15 percent of it. There are four companies under the umbrella of Assure Holding Corporation: Americas Insurance Co.,  Quality Casualty Insurance Co., Assure RE Intermediaries and Assure Underwriters. The companies do business in 26 states, having offices in Washington, DC., Minneapolis, Dallas, New Orleans and North Carolina.

Ray is known for his hard work ethic, but he is known as well for his philanthropy. God has blessed him throughout his life and Ray believes in paying forward those blessings.

He and his wife Karen have established a scholarship at the University of Alabama for first generation college students, in honor of their parents. Ray and his sisters, Vicki and Rhonda, were all first generation college students now succeeding in their respective fields.

He works with inner city children as a mentor. He encourages his employees to adopt underprivileged children during the holidays, leading by example.

Because of his generosity, many inner city children have the privilege of attending private schools in the Washington DC communities. Ray has also provided assistance to the Haleyville City Schools and to Spain Park, where his daughter attended school and to the HHS softball team, where his niece Kaylen Bishop was a member and is now a 2015 graduate.

Following the 2011 tornadoes, he and his wife reached out to the storm victims, supplying and cooking food for those in need in Tuscaloosa, where he lived at that time.

Ray and Karen now live in Chevy Chase Maryland, but he will always call Haleyville his home no matter where in the world he may be.

We welcome our 2015 Alumnus of the Year honoree Ray Pate.


Fay Cummings

 A young girl at Haleyville Elementary School took her food supplied by the Back Pack Ministry and sat down in the hallway. She began to eat it as fast as she could. Her older brother came along and asked, “What are you doing?” She replied, “I have to eat this before I take it home or it will be taken from me.” Her brother assured her, “That’s OK. I have found us a secret hiding place.”

Faye Cummings, a retired city school employee, felt led to begin this back pack ministry three years ago. “My family had faced a lot of tragedy with the death of my father and husband and we were hit with the 2011 tornado. But the Lord kept telling me, ‘Faye you have to do something.’ I know there are needs in foreign countries, but we have hungry children, hungry people right here at home. The children can’t help themselves,” she said as tears appeared in her eyes. “That is why I felt led to do this. This is why we have to do this. The children get fed while they are at school, but some of them go hungry on the weekends.

“I started this with no money for it. I just decided I was going to trust God and He is providing the way and the means.”

The program, as an outreach of Littleville Methodist Church, provides food for 37 children. Items are sent home to provide three meals a day and a snack for each day for Saturday and Sunday. It is operated on donations from the community.

School personnel submit names of the children in need. Volunteers put the food in bags, which are given to the students on Friday afternoon before they leave school. This is done on a weekly basis.

“People have really stepped up and provided donations of money and food,” pointed out Cummings. “But the need is so great.”

Just recently, the employees of Masonite, in Haleyville, have begun a food drive. Employees who want to participate are assigned a particular food item to bring every two weeks.

“We want to encourage other area businesses and industries to support this very worthy ministry,” said Donna McInnish, of Masonite. “We are so glad to be participating and it is truly a blessing to be able to do this.”

Cummings expressed her appreciation to everyone who donates and volunteers to make this happen.

If you are up for a challenge to help needy children, contact Cummings at 205-522-6157.

Matthew 25: 35-40: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

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