John OliverThe Blount Scholars Program has lost a great friend in the recent passing of John T. Oliver Jr.  Mr. Oliver has been a staunch supporter of the Program and an inspiration to its students.

The Man

John Oliver was born on April 19th, 1929 in Birmingham Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama with his bachelor’s and law degrees. He subsequently served his country in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp before settling in Jasper, Alabama to embark upon a successful career in banking.  In Jasper, Mr. Oliver served on countless boards and in numerous leadership roles. Just a few of those roles include:

  • University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees (1971-1999)
  • Trustee for Walker College (Now Bevill State Community College, Jasper Campus)
  • Member of Board of the Alabama Department of Archives and History
  • Board Member of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf & Blind

In all that he undertook, he was known for his optimism and winning sense of humor.  To learn more about the life of John Oliver you can read his obituary.

The Impact

Oliver Barnard Hall
Oliver Barnard Hall


Mr. Oliver’s impact upon our program is most immediately visible in the Blount Program’s main administrative building.  Originally Barnard Hall, the building was renovated with funds generously provided by Mr. Oliver and the Bankhead Foundation.  In honor of his strong support, the building was renamed Oliver-Barnard Hall in 2001.  It now serves as the center of our administrative operations, a space for upper class seminars, and a gathering place in which Blount students meet to study and socialize.


Blount students interning
Blount Scholars Vaughn Gingrich (3rd from the left) and Logan Fenhouse (4th from the left)

Mr. Oliver’s impact on our students can be seen beyond the UA campus as well. One of the clearest examples of this is the New College Walker Area Community Foundation Internship. When he settled in Jasper, Mr. Oliver become involved with multiple community growth efforts which culminated in the creation of the Walker Area Community Foundation and the Bankhead House and Heritage Center.

These initiatives have provided meaningful internship opportunities for Blount students in recent years. In Walker County, students have the ability to live in Jasper as Jean O’Connor-Synder Interns and work with the Walker Area Community Foundation. This internship is funded by the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.


Blount Scholars Virginia Saft (2nd from the left) and John Pace (4th from the left) and Ariel Jones (6th from the left) at the end of their JOIP Walker County Internship.
Blount Scholars Virginia Saft (2nd from the left) and John Pace (4th from the left) and Ariel Jones (6th from the left) at the end of their JOIP Walker County Internship.


The Blount Scholars Program is proud of its students’ civic engagement in local communities like Jasper, and this engagement would not have been possible without the work of John Oliver. We will have two more Blount Students participating in the Walker County Internship in this upcoming summer, Lorin O’Rear (Class Entering 2020) and Kate Dansereau (Class Entering 2020), and we are pleased that they will be upholding the very important mission of civic engagement that Mr. Oliver envisioned.




John Oliver memorial service brochure
Photo from the Walker Area Community Foundation

Memorial Service

A memorial service will be held on March 12, 2022 at the 11:00 a.m. at the Jasper Civic Center, 204 19th Street East in Jasper. In lieu of flowers, please consider gifts to: The Walker Area Community Foundation, 611 8th Avenue, Jasper, AL 35501, Bankhead House & Heritage Center, 800 7th St. West, Jasper, AL 35501