Wendell H. Crow Named to RHSSHOF
Long-time Rector area newspaperman Wendell H. Crow will be inducted into the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2016. Crow was editor and co-publisher of the Clay County Democrat weekly newspaper, serving Rector and its surrounding communities, from the time he and his wife, Elizabeth F. "Betty" Crow purchased the paper in 1954 until his retirement, and the sale of the newspaper, in 1977.
Throughout his career Crow believed publishing a weekly newspaper was a community service, and as part of this conviction he had a strong commitment to supporting the Rector Public Schools. He believed the schools and their activities were vital components of a healthy community. As such, he recognized that one of the most visible expressions of public support for the schools is their athletic program. By the time the Crows moved to Rector, the weak fiscal condition of the school system led to the abandonment of football. With this fact in mind, Mr. Crow readily understood the value that strong newspaper coverage of the sport of basketball would have as a way to build and maintain strong community morale in Rector .
Throughout his tenure as editor and publisher, Crow made sure all school sports events-at home and away-were provided coverage in the newspaper. In fact, he expanded the "new hole" in the paper in order to accommodate photo coverage of important games, frequently featuring large action shots on the front page. It was not uncommon for him to delay printing the final run of the paper in order to squeeze in late-breaking news of the outcome of basketball tournament games.
The strong rivalries among the teams in Rector's district occasionally led to fiercely battled contests, sometimes resulting in unruly crowd behavior. Crow never hesitated to urge his readers to treat the visitors with respect, and to behave themselves when they followed the teams on the road. In one such men's basketball game on the road, an opposing team player physically assaulted a Rector player without the referee calling an intentional foul, resulting in a brawl and a near-riot. This drew Mr. Crow's strong editorial admonishment to both sides to practice good sportsmanship, and a commendation of the Rector team and fans for their restraint.
All four of the Crow children played a role in support of the Rector athletic program. Sons Charlie and Wendell Crow each traveled with the teams for away games in order to assure timely news and photographic coverage of all the high school basketball games. His son, Mark Crow, played on the Rector Blackcat athletic teams, and daughter Cathy Crow was a cheerleader.
As the school's athletic program broadened into other sports, the paper's coverage expanded with it. If Rector fielded a team, the Democrat covered it.
After family members graduated, Mr. Crow continued his commitment to sports coverage by making sure that the Clay County Democrat always had a high school boy or girl working on the staff who could report games and take pictures. It is estimated at least 20 young men and women worked their way through high school and/or college with part-time jobs at the Clay County Democrat in roles which almost always included sports coverage. The experience as sports reporters was a chance to get on-the-job experience which was invaluable to their future careers. Testament to his efforts, one Democrat alumnus is now a professional sports reporter in an adjacent state.
Crow will join former RHS athletic standouts Dana Adams-Wilson, Jimmy W. McKeel and Jessica Hill-Graham, as members of the RHSSHOF class of 2016, with the induction ceremony set for Saturday, Sept. 3