They cheered, played for rivals
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
The Neal-Miller football rivalry was born in 1946, before Donny and Catherine Finlay Fountain were born. The series that began as a fundraiser for a local hospital created a rivalry so intense that it permeates life year-round in Brewton and East Brewton.
The Fountains – who cheered and played on opposite teams in high school – are among those who have managed to put the rivalry aside, and have been happily married for about 35 years.
Catherine Fountain was born in Brewton and has lived here all her life except for a short time when she was in college and right after her marriage. She is the daughter of the late Bob and Mary Finlay. Her mother was a long-time teacher at Brewton Collegiate Institute (BCI) and W.S. Neal and instilled in her daughter many of the traits that she carries today.
Her father, Bob Finlay, had played sports at BCI and worked at Robbin's and McGowin's for many years in the hardware section of the store. The family lived in the family home on Belleville Avenue, the same house Donny and Catherine live in today. Although her mother taught at W.S. Neal, the Finlay Fountain children attended T.R. Miller because her mother believed they should go to the nearest school.
Catherine was very active in school. She participated in all the activities and was a Miller cheerleader. She graduated in 1965 and was among the first to enroll at the new Jefferson Davis Junior College.
Donny was reared in East Brewton. His father died when he was very young and his mother ran a gas station in East Brewton. He was the youngest in a family of three boys and one girl that included Hugh, Jim and Betty. He attended East Brewton schools and was very active in sports, as were his brothers. He was placed on the varsity football team when he was in the eighth grade.
Donny graduated from high school in 1965 and went away to the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. His roommate was Mike Sasser who would later coach at T.R. Miller. Donny's football-playing days came to an end after several problems with his knees, when he took himself off the roster.
He continued with his college and Catherine followed him to the University after finishing at JDJC. They graduated from the University of Alabama in 1970 and were married on the same day. She did some teaching at Hillcrest in Tuscaloosa and he sold insurance to pay for his college education. He then got a job in Haleyville with a mobile home company and she taught school there for a while.
When Donny and his brother, Hugh, went into business together in mobile home sales, the family moved back south and lived in a mobile home in Milton and then moved it to East Brewton. They later had a house on Williamson Street and their growing family was able to walk to school at Neal Elementary. When their family outgrew that house, they moved into Brewton and their four children were put into the Brewton City School System.
Catherine stayed home with her children, Katie, Drennan, James and Will, for a few years, but she got back into teaching and taught children with special needs at W.S. Neal for 18 years before she retired last year. She even taught at Brewton Elementary School for about three years when she first came back to Brewton.
She is enjoying spending more time with her grandchildren these days while Donny still works at the mobile homes sales in East Brewton. He is also working, at the present time, helping to set up Movie Gallery businesses and in Mississippi in construction.
In 1991 when her parents died within months of each other, the Fountain family moved into the circa 1901 home on Belleville Avenue in which she grew up.