By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, October 14, Paul Hubbert, the former Executive Secretary – Treasurer of the Alabama Education Association passed away following a long battle with kidney failure. For decades, Dr. Hubbert was viewed by friend and foe alike as the most powerful man in the State.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said in a statement, “Dianne and I are saddened to hear about the death of Dr. Paul Hubbert. He was a good man, and a legend in Alabama politics. Dr. Hubbert worked extremely hard for the teachers and support personnel in our state. He was respected by Democrats and Republicans alike. His family will be in our prayers in the coming days.”
Dr. Hubbert’s successor, Dr. Henry Mabry, said in a written statement, “Our deepest condolences are extended to Mrs. Hubbert, their children and grandchildren. No one knows more than they how much Dr. Hubbert devoted his life to the service of the men and women working in Alabama’s public schools. Dr. Hubbert was a great fighter for Alabama public schools and all public school children of this state.”
The Minority Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives, Rep. Craig Ford (D from Gadsden) wrote in a statement, “Dr. Paul Hubbert changed Alabama. From the dramatic improvements to public education, to the rise of AEA as a political force in Montgomery, Dr. Hubbert made a huge impact on our state. He fought for and won huge victories for educators, but he also fought for education and to make sure every child in Alabama had a chance to get a quality education. I was privileged to know him, and proud to call him my friend and mentor. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Representative Darrio Melton (D from Selma) said, “I’m deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Hubbert. His years of leadership in support of the teachers and students of Alabama will leave an imprint on our education system for years to come. He will be truly missed across the State.”
Dr. Paul Hubbert is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Ann McDonald of Carbon Hill. Mrs. Hubbert is a graduate of the University of Alabama and is retired from teaching in the Montgomery County School System.
The Hubberts have two daughters, Dr. Theresa Ann Hubbert Fruge, who is a Radiologist in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Dr. Yolonda Hubbert Zink, who is a Chiropractor in Montgomery, Alabama. The Hubberts have four grandchildren, David and Rebecca Reiman, and Maxwell (Max) Thomas and Zoe Zink.
Dr. Paul R. Hubbert was born in Jasper, Alabama, on December 25, 1935. He is the son of the late Pearl and Virgil Hubbert. He is a 1954 graduate of Hubbertville School in Fayette County which he attended from grades one through twelve.
Hubbert graduated from Florence State College (now the University of North Alabama) in 1959. He went on to get a Master’s degree and his doctorate from the University of Alabama in School Administration and Finance.
Following graduation, Hubbert worked as the business manager of the Tuscaloosa City School system. In 1967 he became the Superintendent of the Troy City Schools System. On March 1, 1969, he became Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Alabama Education Association. Prior to that time White teachers in Alabama had one professional organization, the AEA. Black teachers had their own professional organization, the Alabama State Teachers’ Association. Hubbert and his long time friend and ally, Joe Reed, were able to merge the two groups and slowly expand the organization to represent 105,000 public school employees.
Hubbert recognized early on that to get the maximum benefits for the members of his professional association he did to maximize the AEA’s influence in the political realm, particularly in who got elected to the state legislature in Alabama. Teachers and education workers agreed to take payroll deductions to Political Action Comittees controlled by AEA. Hubbert and Reed could be charming and persuasive and when that failed they could assist primary challengers.
In 1990 Secretary Hubbert ran for and won the Democratic Party nomination for Governor. Hubbert eventually lost to incumbent Governor Guy Hunt (R).
Dr. Hubbert served as Chairman of the Alabama Teachers’ Retirement System and also served on the Southern Regional Education Board, the State Literacy Workforce Development Council, the Commission on Health Care Crisis, the Education Committee of the Alabama State Workforce Investment Board, as well as other committees and commissions appointed by Governors’ Brewer, Wallace, James, Hunt, Siegelman, Riley and Bentley.
Hubbert is a liver transplant survivor. The successful organ transplant extended his life for another 25 years. Dr. Hubbert retired on December 31, 2011 after 42 years leading the AEA.
In January 2009, Dr. Hubbert was voted the “Most Influential Alabamian” by a panel of New York Times Regional Newspaper editors in Florence, Gadsden, and Tuscaloosa.
In recognition of the 25-year liver transplant survivor, the University of Alabama Birmingham established the Paul Hubbert Legacy of Courage Award which is presented annually to someone working to improve the lives of those living with liver disease.
The Hubberts are leaving their entire estate, as a lasting legacy to their commitment to the teaching profession and public education, to the University of Alabama College of Education to provide scholarships for students pursuing certified teaching degrees.
The Paul and Ann Hubbert Endowed Scholarships are awarded to Alabama residents who require financial assistance to attend college and who aspire to achieve great things for Alabama’s public schools.