Past EPHS Presidents

Roderick McDuffie 

First President of EPHS - founding member
1978 - 1980

Roderick McDuffie’s prodigious memory, ready wit and organizational skills made him a natural to be the first president of the East Point Historical Society.  

Born in East Point in 1904, Roderick was the son of a third generation building contractor.  His father, Daniel A. McDuffie, constructed buildings in and around East Point and Atlanta, served on City Council and was Mayor East Point in the early 1920s.  In his youth, Roderick delivered groceries to the residents of East Point and, in later life, could still recall names of families and the streets where they had lived.  

He received his law degree from the Atlanta Law School.  In 1929 he went to work as Clerk of the Superior Court in Fulton County until 1960 when he was appointed as Judge of the Court in East Point until he retired in 1980.

Active in the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Roderick traveled around Georgia to organize new lodges.  He attained the rank of Grand Exalted Ruler and served as a National trustee of that organization.  He was instrumental in the establishment of the East Point Elks Lodge in East Point, Georgia and for as long as he we physically able, Roderick continued to come by the headquarters every Thursday afternoon to spin yarns, bring photos or artifacts and reminisce.  Mr. McDuffie was also a Mason and a member of the Kiwanis Club. 

His death in 1987 left a void in the ranks of the EPHS but his life, his work and his skill helped shape the course of this organization.

J. T. Goen, Jr.

Second President of EPHS - founding member
1980 - 1981 (what's on the plaque)
1981 - 1982; 1986- - 1987 (EPHS typed records)
1981 - 1983; 1986 - 1988 (EPHS 1/98 newsletter)

 J. T. (Jake) Goen, was the second president of EPHS and a founding member.  He attended the first called meeting in December 1978.  Jake, along with Earlene Dowda and I (Ora Jean Gunnin) called the first group together back in Dec, 1978.  We owe a big debt to Jake.  With his business expertise and history background, he helped set the plans for many of our collections and is recognized as the Society's first official Curator.  (source: 1/98 EPHS newsletter)

When the EPHS opened its headquarters in the City Hall Annex, Jake was appointed Executive Director charged with overseeing the indexing of materials, establishing files and keeping the place open on Thursday afternoons.  He was instrumental in getting the Pictorial History of East Point book published, which has been reprinted and is still for sale at the Society.  Through donations to his memorial fund, the 'work room' at the Society was dedicated to him with a plaque over the door in September 1998.

Although Jake’s parents moved to East Point in 1907, his mother returned to her parents’ home in Barnesville for the birth of her first child a year later, so he cannot claim East Point as his birthplace but he lived here his entire life.  He attended old Central School, Church Street School, the “Bungalow”, East Point High School and graduated from Russell High in 1926.  He graduated from Ga. Tech School of Commerce in 1931, a depression year when permanent jobs were difficult to find.  When Hapeville High School opened in 1939, he began a teaching career that lasted until 1952 when he became a (Fulton County) school auditor, retiring from that post in 1974.  He was also a 45 year member and past president of the Inter-City Civitan Club.

Jake remained a bachelor living at the family home at the corner of Church Street and Taylor Avenue.  He died in 1998 and is buried in the family plot at Hillcrest Cemetery.

Owen Franklin Bell

Third President of EPHS
1981 - 1983

Mr Bell served in the National Guard at Atlanta, Ge in 1941. In 1942, he enlisted in the regular US Army at Camp Forrest, Tennessee.  He was assigned to guard air bases in England in 1943 and in July 1944, his unit went to Normandy as part of the buildup for "Operation Cobra".  During the march through Germany in April of 1945,First Sgt. Owem F. Bell received the Bronze Star.

Mr Bell was born in East Point in 1917 and died in 1994.

Douglas H. Purdie

Forth President of EPHS - charter member
1983 - 1985

In 1941, Mr. Purdie started work with the Fulton County School System serving in various positions as teacher, counselor, and principal at Russell High School and at Hapeville High School.  He concluded his career in Counseling Services at the Administration office in 1980.

Mr Purdie was born October 27, 1916 to Scottish immigrants, William James Purdie and Charlotte Tarlor Purdie in Harrison, New Jersey.  He married Ethelyn Boswell of Penfield, Ga. in 1940.  He died in 2006.

J. D. Suttles

Fifth (?) President of EPHS 
1988 - 1989

Mr. Suttles graduated from Russell High School, East Point, and played the clarinet in the Georgia National Guard. The band would occasionally travel with Sen. Herman Talmadge. He also marched in one of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural parades in Washington, D. C. He served in the United States Navy in World War II and was one of the first sailors assigned to set up the naval base in Charleston, S. C. Later, he worked for Fulton County, retiring as the assistant director of the Public Buildings Department. After retirement he and his wife were active in the East Point AARP, where he served as tour director for 14 years. 

Mr. Suttles was born in 1912, in East Point, to Howell and Nellie Suttles.  He died in 2005.

Ashfield Yarbrough

President of EPHS - Charter Member

Mr. Yarbrough at one time owned Campbell's Restaurant in East Point and later he managed the Greenbriar Movie Theater, at Greenbriar Mall, the first shopping mall in Georgia.

Mr. Yarbrough was born in 1914 and died in 2003.

Ora Jean Porter Gunnin

President of EPHS
1991 - 1993

Ora Jean Gunnin moved to East Point in 1931 and attended Harris Street School and Russell High. She was active in the PTA and helped start the Russell High Alumni Association which held reunions for all classes 1924 through 1988. While president of East Point Woman's Club, the club spearheaded the founding of the Historical Society. She has volunteered in many civic organizations. 

Olen Gunnin
President of EPHS

1993 - 1995; 2000- 2004; 2005 - 2007

Olen Gunnin was born on Semmes Street in 1923. His family moved to East Point in early 1923 and lived in the same house until all the family had married and settled elsewhere. Olen graduated from Russell High, then entered the U.S. Army in 1942. He came back and entered Law School, and has been a member of the Bar for 58 years. Mr. Gunnin served for 20 years on the East Point City Council and holds the record for longest continuous service. 

Leeman Barge

President of EPHS
1996 - 1999

Walter Griffin

President of EPHS 
2008 - 2010

Walter Griffin was born in 1937 in Wilmington, Delaware. He was named Master-Poet-in-Residence by the Georgia Council for the Arts & Humanities in 1978. He served as poet-in-residence for the GCAH, The South Carolina Arts Commission and The Tennessee Arts Commission for 13 years in over 120 secondary and elementary school, colleges, youth detention center, correctional institutions and prisons.  He was the Founder and Director of the Atlanta Poets Workshop for 28 years. His poetry has appeared in over 400 publications and anthologies and he has published several books of poetry. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for Port Authority.