Alabama Academy of Honor

Kathryn Tucker Windham

Kathryn Tucker Windham was a master storyteller, author of twenty-four books, playwright, accomplished photographer, and popular public television and radio personality. Her National Public Radio segments for "All Things Considered" won her national acclaim. Though ghost stories predominated much of her earlier career, Mrs. Windham wrote several cookbooks and collections of reminiscences covering a wide experience of Alabama life. Many in the history community agree that her work is a treasure trove of source material documenting Alabama's social history.

Born in Selma on June 2, 1918, to James Wilson Tucker and Helen Tabb Tucker, Mrs. Windham spent her childhood in Thomasville, and attended public schools there. At the age of twelve, she began her writing career as movie editor for her cousin Earl Tucker's weekly newspaper, The Thomasville Times. She also got her first camera that year, a Brownie, and soon discovered that she loved photography almost as much as writing.

Mrs. Windham earned a B.A. degree from Huntingdon College in 1939. In 1940, she went to work as a reporter for the Alabama Journal, breaking barriers in the newspaper industry by being one of the first female reporters (perhaps the very first) to cover the police beat for a major daily newspaper in the South. In 1942, she moved to Birmingham to become publicity director for the Alabama War Bond Committee. In 1944, she joined The Birmingham News, and it was there in 1945 that she met Amasa Benjamin Windham upon his return from serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy. They were married in 1946 and moved to Selma where their three children were born. After her husband died of a heart attack in 1956, and after her youngest child started to school, Mrs. Windham joined the staff of The Selma Times-Journal where she won several Associated Press awards for her writing and photography. She left newspapering in 1973 to become Community Relations Coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging, an organization serving twelve rural counties in southwest Alabama.

Mrs. Windham received honorary doctorates from Huntingdon College, the University of Montevallo, and Spring Hill College. Other honors include the establishment of the Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum in Thomasville on the campus of Alabama Southern College (2003), induction into the University of Alabama College of Communications Hall of Fame (2001), Alabama Humanities Award (2000), Governor's Award for the Arts (1995), the National Storytelling Association's Circle of Excellence Award and Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), the University of Alabama's Society of Fine Arts' Alabama Arts Award (1990), and Selma Rotary Club's Citizen of the Year (1995). She was one of thirteen Alabama artists selected by the Alabama State Council for the Arts to represent Alabama in France and Monaco in 2000.

Mrs. Windham was the proud mother of three children: Kathryn Tabb Windham (Kitti), Amasa Benjamin Windham, Jr. (Ben), and Helen Ann Windham Hilley (Dilcy); and two grandsons, David Wilson Windham and Benjamin Douglas Hilley.

Mrs. Windham died on June 12, 2011.