Distinguished Alumni Awards

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award

Alton H. Christopher (61c)

Alton H. Christopher

From his first paper route in Forsyth County, Ga., to his decision to lease a swimming pool during his freshman year at Berry, it’s clear that Al Christopher has long held an enterprising mindset. Since then, throughout a forty-year career in construction and related fields, and during a time of rapid changes in the industry, he has challenged himself to complete every job with a happy client.

After serving four years in the U.S. Air Force and completing his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University, he taught math for a time at Forsyth County High School in Cumming, Ga. To supplement his teaching income, he bought half interest in a recreation business that included running a restaurant and renting mobile home and camping spaces.

In 1968, having become an expert on the camping business, he moved to Destin, Fla., to build a campground on the beach for an Atlanta businessman. By 1975 he bought the business and operated it for ten years. In the off-season, he started Christopher Construction Company, Inc. and began developing townhome condominiums, retail stores, banks, churches, schools, among many other ventures. He also started Mamco, Inc., a fabrication plant.

Both his camping business and construction business grew rapidly during the next few years, providing profits for still more new ventures. In the early 1980s he started Destin Piling and Excavating Co. Inc., taking advantage of a new Florida law requiring that buildings near the Gulf of Mexico be built on pilings. He was also instrumental in chartering Destin Savings Bank, where he worked as director and served on the loan committee.

By the late 1980s he divided his time between Destin and Roswell, Ga., while helping to care for his aging mother. In Roswell, he started Gulf Shores Seafood. While in Destin, he began Destin Building Consultants, Inc. and, later, Specialty Woods Millwork, Inc. He transformed the latter business into building and leasing commercial warehouses and expanding to the thirty acres of land the company owns today.

Since his retirement in 2004, he has dedicated his talents in service to Berry. In addition to being Gate of Opportunity donors and members of Berry’s Heritage Society, he and wife Becky are devoted to Alumni Work Week. As a master woodworker and a leader of Work Week construction crews, he built barns for use by the Berry Enterprises. Alongside members of the Class of 61C, he supervised construction of the restrooms at the House o’ Dreams for that class’s 50th reunion. Most recently, he has been instrumental in construction of the Oak Hill Pavilion, a stunning 5,760-square-foot event space on the grounds of Martha Berry’s estate.