Four Inducted Into RHS Hall of Fame
Accolades from the past were brought to the forefront Saturday at the high school gymnasium as four inductees were enshrined into the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame during the organization's annual luncheon and ceremony. Paul Temerian, Les McKeel, Rudy Pruett and Don Sinko made up the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2014, joining a group of others whose lasting contributions at Rector, Greenway and Clay County Central High Schools are still felt to this day.
McKeel, a 1936 RHS grad, was a gifted athlete, whose talents in basketball and baseball saw him rise to great heights in college and semi-professional play. He was a standout guard for Kentucky Teacher's College, now Murray State, and shined against Major Leaguers with the Rector Cardinals semi-pro baseball team.
Jess Bucy, Hall of Fame RHS coach and athlete, inducted McKeel, and recalled seeing McKeel play when Bucy was in his youth.
"Many consider him the best athlete to come through here," Bucy said. "In my opinion, I think he was the best baseball player in northeast Arkansas and probably southeast Missouri because we played the best teams and Les always managed to stand out as one of the best, if not the best, on the field every time out."
Accepting on behalf of his father, Bob McKeel noted his dad was offered a job as an assistant coach at Murray State, but declined because he wanted to return to Rector, the town he and his family loved so much.
Sinko, a 1957 graduate of RHS, is considered by many to be one of the school's most underrated basketball players. Receiving a basketball scholarship to Arkansas College, known today as Lyon College, Sinko was a multiple time All-Conference selection and NAIA standout.
Master of Ceremonies Mark Manchester gave the presentation for Sinko, noting his list of achievements as an athlete and coach. Manchester noted Sinko's NAIA honors were akin to modern selection as an All-American, giving those unfamiliar with the standout a better idea of his prowess on the basketball court.
Sinko's daughter, Leslie Loveless, accepted the family's plaque in honor of her late father.
Paul Temerian helped revitalize the school's football program when he joined the staff of Clay County Central in 1985. Two of his teams, the 1987 and 1994 Cougars, hold the school record for the best regular season performance with records of 8-2. Many of the players he coached are active in the school's football program to this day, honoring the legacy of their former coach.
Ron Kemp, publisher of the Times-Democrat and longtime supporter of Rector athletics, gave the presentation for Temerian. Kemp shared stories from his years of interviewing and visiting with Temerian.
"He was a man's man and he was a coach's coach," Kemp said Temerian while pointing out the coach's dedication to his players and the reciprocation of the athletes.
Lura Mae Temerian, wife of Coach Temerian, accepted the plaque on his behalf, recounting the bond between coach and player.
"He had opportunities to coach college football, but he turned them down," she said. "He said, 'In high school, if a player makes a mistake, he makes a mistake. In college, if a player makes a mistake, he gets replaced and he (Temerian) just couldn't handle that. He was too dedicated to his players for that."
Pruett, a 1923 graduate of RHS, was a gifted basketball and baseball player who perhaps made even greater contributions as a manager and promoter of semi-pro athletics and special events in the area. Through his efforts, world-renowned teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters and The Redheads made their way to Rector, much to the entertainment of local crowds.
Coach Bucy returned to the podium to speak about Pruett, noting he felt, "Rudy Pruett did more to provide entertainment for the people of Rector and opportunities for its athletes" than anyone in the programs' history.
Dr. Gail Bishop Dugger, granddaughter of Pruett, accepted the plaque on the behalf of Pruett's family.
"Even many years later, my grandfather would tell stories of Rector and the many wonderful people he had known here," Dugger said. "He still loved this town and his many friends here."
Michele Haley, RHSSHOF Board member, spoke to the crowd regarding the organization's efforts to honor faithful supporter, the late Dr. Owen H. Clopton, Jr., through a partnership with the Clopton Clinic and St. Bernards. St. Bernards and the Clopton Clinic graciously offered to serve as title sponsors for the Hall of Fame's annual golf tournament, which serves as one of the main fundraisers for the program. Haley pointed out Dr. Clopton's dedication to the RHSSHOF, as did board member Lavaughn Robertson, who led the crowd in a moment of silence in honor of the gifted doctor and dedicated supporter of the Rector community.
The winning teams in this year's tournament were announced as well, with the team of Kelly Scobey, Ron Benson, Kirk Scobey and Wade Williams finishing first. Kelly Scobey hit a hole-in-one in the tournament, played Friday at the Kennett Country Club. The team of Gary Ward, Jacob Hester, Dewey Shelton and Alan Shelton earned second place in the event. Third place went to the team of Ron Kemp, David Neal Webb, Mark Manchester and Jonathan Kemp.
In addition to honoring those who have contributed to the greatness of the Rector, Greenway and Clay County Central athletics programs of the past, the Hall of Fame also supports the athletes of today and the near future. This past year, the organization presented $4,900 in scholarships. The recipients included Anna Blackshare, Alec Scott, Kristen Smart, Bailey Haney, Lenae Haley, Madison Cate, Amy DeMent, Cheyenne Ellis, Kaylee Hartsfield, Courtney Shepard and Bekah Scott.
Prior to the induction ceremony, those in attendance enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Dawn's Diner of Marmaduke.