Cover photo for Hoyt Garland Harwell's Obituary
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1931 Hoyt 2024

Hoyt Garland Harwell

March 8, 1931 — June 12, 2024

Hoover, Alabama

Hoyt Garland Harwell, 93, of Hoover, AL, died at home surrounded by family June 12, 2024, after a brief illness. 

He was born March 8, 1931, in Jacksonville, FL, and grew up in Mobile. The son of the Rev. and Mrs. H.H. Harwell, Hoyt was the eldest of seven and a graduate of Murphy High School. He lettered in football in high school and at Howard College, from which he graduated in 1953. While at Howard (now Samford University), he was a member of O.D.K. leadership and Trident scholastic honor societies; Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges; and served as editor of the student newspaper. 

After college, he began a 42-year career with the Associated Press (AP) and served in several units of the U.S. Army National Guard in Mobile.

He retired from the AP in 1993, having worked in Mobile, Atlanta, GA, and Birmingham, where he served 26 years as AP correspondent for the state of Alabama. At his retirement, he had filed more than 500,000 articles for the news service, according to their records. 

On Feb. 2, 1988, he helped effect the rescue of a pregnant teacher and 10 elementary school children at Tuscaloosa’s West End Christian School during a 12-hour siege of 60 students and several teachers by an armed kidnapper. The Hoover Rotary Club presented him with its Service Above Self Award for his efforts. 

His many honors included Troy State’s Journalist of the Year for the state and in 2022 was named to The 50 Legends of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. He served on the advisory boards for Samford University, Judson College and the Alabama Baptist newspaper. He has taught journalism at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at Samford University.

Upon Hoyt’s retirement, then-Alabama U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin read into the Congressional Record a commendation for his “long and distinguished career, the hallmarks of which have always been fairness and integrity.”

His articles before and after retirement have appeared in numerous church publications, GRIT magazine and Reader’s Digest, among others. He also appeared in an ESPN documentary about Alabama Football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. He has written columns for the Mobile Press Register, the Birmingham News, the Shelby County Reporter and Senior Living magazine; and provided Bluff Park community news for the Mountain Mouthpiece for many years. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Jack Upchurch, Mercer Mahon and Harold Bruce Harwell, sisters Eleanor Ann and Marilyn Ruth Harwell; youngest son, James Andrew Harwell; and son-in-law H. Frank Segars, Jr. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Elizabeth Granade Harwell; brother Frank Horace Harwell; children Hoyt Garland Harwell, Jr., and Julia Harwell Segars; daughter-in-law, Kimberly Brandon Harwell; grandchildren Emily Elizabeth Thomas, Tate Sanders Thomas (Allie), Logan Harwell Hanle (Jonathan), McCall Ann Harwell, Brandon Andrew Harwell, Harper Wood Harwell and Eleanor Jo Harwell; and great-grandson, Jonathan Michael Hanle, Jr. 

Over his lifetime, he served as a deacon in four different churches, including Shades Crest Baptist Church. He taught Sunday School for many of his 58 years at Shades Crest Baptist. In retirement he enjoyed family beach trips, fishing, gardening and daily visits with his buddies in “the piddlers” senior coffee group at the church gym and at the Bluff Park Hardware Store.

A “Celebration of a Happy Life” service will be held at Shades Crest Baptist Church, 452 Park Avenue, Hoover on Monday, June 17; with visitation at 10 a.m. and service at 11. A private family graveside service will follow at Jefferson-Currie Memorial Funeral Home and Gardens Cemetery in Hoover. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Shades Crest Baptist Church Building Fund.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Hoyt Garland Harwell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Monday, June 17, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Shades Crest Baptist Church

452 Park Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35226

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