Law firm takes top prize at spelling bee, but Literary Council is real winner

Published on Tuesday, 6 August 2013 22:28 - Written by REBECCA HOEFFNER

Tandoori food comes from a clay cooking pot known as a tandoor, and Wilson, Robertson and Cornelius law firm representatives nailed the spelling of it Tuesday.

That allowed the team to emerge victorious from the pressure cooker that was the Literacy Council of Tyler’s 22nd-annual Corporate Spelling Bee.

Wilson, Robertson and Cornelius out-spelled a dozen other teams at the event held before a packed, raucous house at the CrossWalk Conference Center at Green Acres Baptist Church.

The firm unseated the Tyler Junior College team, which had won the bee the past three years.

“It’s euphoric,” said Sarah Connor, one of three Wilson, Robertson and Cornelius team members. “We didn’t expect to win. We knew what we were up against.”

Ingersoll Rand joined the law firm as the last two teams standing.

Proceeds from this year’s event had not been tabulated as of Tuesday. Last year’s bee brought in $53,000.

The online auction benefitting the organization runs until 8 p.m. today and features items such as a Johnny Manziel autographed football, a year of cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes, Chick-Fil-A gift cards, an overnight youth camp at Pine Cove Christian Camps, a gift card to Rick’s on the Square, Dallas Cowboys and Texas Ranger tickets and many other items.

The Literacy Council will see 2,400 students this year. It is the only organization in Smith County offering free educational services to adults seeking to improve their basic reading, writing, and/or math skills, prepare for GED testing, or learn English as a second language.

One in four adult residents of Smith County is undereducated and functionally illiterate; another 25 percent do not have skills for higher paying jobs or job advancement, according to the written release.

The 13 teams that competed in this year’s spelling bee were:

Booher Engineering, Brookshire Grocery Company, Henry & Peters, Ingersoll Rand/Trane, Mentoring Minds, Prothro Wilhelmi, Suddenlink, Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, Tyler Independent School District, Tyler Junior College, Tyler Morning Telegraph, Tyler Pipe and Wilson, Robertson & Cornelius Law Firm.

David Stein, president of Office Pride at East Texas, served as this year’s emcee.

The judges were Smith County Judge Joel Baker, District Court Judge Christi Kennedy and U.S. Magistrate Judge John Love. Chief of Tyler Police, Gary Swindle served as timekeeper.

Brookshire Grocery Company won the costume trophy for its Harry Potter theme. The spirit award went to Ingersoll Rand.

The winner of the audience spell was Mary Lynn Smith.

The testimonial video at the event featured five former students; four of whom are going to college in the fall, said Nancy Crawford, executive director of the literacy council.

“They all would have told you college wasn’t for them,” Mrs. Crawford said. “We care about educating children, and that’s why we educate their parents. That’s where the biggest return on investment is.”