Alumni gather to honor Bucy
The Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame made a strong beginning Saturday. Its first induction ceremony was a memorable part of Rector's annual Labor Day celebration.
A crowd of former athletes, school officials and supporters filled the school cafeteria to celebrate the induction of Jess Bucy as the first member of the Hall of Fame.
Bucy was born in Rector in 1930 to Guy and Ethel Bucy. He attended school at Rector, where he was an outstanding baseball and basketball player. In fact, as a junior, Bucy played semi-professional baseball. He graduated in 1948.
Bucy attended Arkansas State University, receiving baseball and basketball scholarships. In his third year at the college, he received offers from the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals baseball teams. Bucy signed with the Tigers' farm team, where he was an All-Star.
However, his time as a professional baseball player was cut short by failing eyesight. Bucy returned to Arkansas, briefly serving as basketball coach at Oak Grove before returning home to Rector. At RHS, Bucy coached basketball and baseball. In his capacity as a coach, he influenced a generation of Rector athletes, becoming one of the city's most beloved figures. He and his wife, Sue, were an integral part of the community for many years.
Bucy led two Rector junior high basketball teams to state championships in 1963 and 1967. His 1959 and 1965 high school teams were state runners-up. In total, Bucy spent 15 years coaching at Rector. His teams averaged 20 wins a season during that time. A total of 13 Bucy-coached teams won the Clay County Tournament. Later he served as the school superintendent.
After Rector, Bucy coached basketball at Harding University for 21 years with one team qualifying for the national tournament in Kansas City. He also spent three years coaching the baseball team, earning a second place finish in the conference during that time. Wherever he went, success followed.
Adding to the event was the presence of several of Bucy's former players. Dr. Owen Moseley, Bob McKeel, Bill Cossey and Allan Pruett all shared memories of Bucy with those in attendance.
The coaching great appeared truly touched by both his induction and the opportunity to gather with so many of his former players.
"It's been a good day," an emotional Bucy said. "I've seen so many friends and former players today. It's been a wonderful experience.
"I feel deeply honored to be a part of the Rector Hall of Fame. I certainly enjoyed my time here. Rector was very good to me and I hope I returned the favor."
Not only is Bucy proud to be a part of the Hall of Fame, he's also excited about what the future holds for the program.
"This is something that really needed to be done. Rector has so many excellent athletes who deserve to have their memories kept alive."
The event also served to recognize recent RHS athletes. Class of 2008 athletes Hannah Parsley, Racheal Gipson, Amber Haynes, Sarah Fannin, Jackie Graham, Derek Wyss, Daniel Hester, Alex Roofe and Seth Matheney also were in attendance. Wyss and Haynes each were presented with a $250 scholarship from the Hall of Fame committee.
Attendees enjoyed a meal prepared by the Traveling Whisk catering service.
Current plans have the Hall of Fame ceremony becoming an annual event. With so many former Rector residents visiting the area during the Labor Day celebration, future celebrations will likely also be held during the holiday weekend.
Members of the Hall of Fame committee include Gary McClure, Roma Nell Sanders, Dr. Moseley, McKeel, John Taylor, Garvin Gatewood, Teresa Gatewood, Mike Benson and Mark Manchester. Lavaughan Robertson is the acting president for the organization.