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THERE will be nine inductees in the inaugural class of the Columbus/Columbus North High School Hall of Fame. All of them are products of the old Columbus High School. School affiliation is of no consequence in this particular selection process.
“They’re all Bull Dogs,” said Hedy George, director of the alumni association in referring to the official school mascot. “It just so happened that the only nominations we received this year were for individuals who attended the old high school. I’m sure that will change in future years as word gets out about the Hall of Fame.”
The Bull Dog Hall of Fame is a long overdue recognition of outstanding individuals who attended the local school and went on to make their marks in a variety of career fields. Another Hall of Fame is in the planning stages by members of the Columbus East Alumni Association.
The official induction ceremony will be conducted in the new student commons area at North Sept. 20, before the annual homecoming game. The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. with a tour of the renovated school.
In one respect, it’s kind of fitting that this first class would be all Columbus High School. It’s been just over four decades since the one Columbus High School became two — East and North.
Because it occupies the same building as it forerunner, Columbus North has laid claim to the heritage of Columbus High School. Ironically, no one has gone to war over that annexation of history, although I suppose somebody could make a pretty good case for Columbus High School being the parent of both East and North.
The difference appears to be that the arrangement provides separate identities for each of the schools. It appears that those aligned with East are quite happy that their beginnings date to 1972, allowing students and alumni to build their own separate and distinct history.
Ironically, North students and alumni are dealing with a mixed heritage that is echoed in the makeup of this first Hall of Fame group. There’s a practical reason to the all Columbus High School alignment. Included in the nomination criteria is a requirement that nominees must have graduated from the school at least 20 years ago. That eliminates 50 percent of the North graduating classes.
Another factor is the impressive list of high achievers who graduated from the old high school, dating back to the 19th century. In fact, that can pose something of a problem in that memories do fade after a bit, leaving open the possibility that some of the school’s earliest outstanding alumni will be overlooked or even forgotten.
For an inaugural class, however, the 2013 assemblage is pretty hard to beat in terms of achievements. It certainly covers a spectrum of career fields, including entertainment, business, education, government and athletics.
It’s no surprise that there would be more athletic achievers in the group than any other field, but it’s hard to overlook the records of folks like Columbus basketball coach Bill Stearman (714 career victories); Paul “Dutch” Fehring (one of only two athletes to win nine letters at Purdue and a member of the halls of fame at Purdue and Stanford universities); Ray Eddy (who coached Madison to a state basketball championship and went on to be head basketball coach at Purdue for 15 years); and Sandra Bridges Newkirk (a pioneer in women’s sports during her 40-year career at Auburn University, where she was named the 1978 volleyball coach of the year by the American Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women).
It would be hard to find a more fitting recipient of an honor in the arts and entertainment field than Ross Barbour, co-founder of the Four Freshmen.
I suspect that anyone who took one of Shirley Lyster’s classes during her 52-plus years at Columbus High School and Columbus North would have taken exception if she hadn’t been put on the list.
Then there’s Tom Spurgeon, who was recently elected president of the Purdue University Board of Trustees and before that had achieved international recognition as an entrepreneur.
Bob Stewart could be described as an overachiever. It might come as a surprise that he only attended Columbus High School for two years, but upon the completion of his second year he was admitted to the University of Chicago. After graduation from Franklin College he went into politics, becoming chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. His most notable contributions were during his three terms as mayor of Columbus, when he led an economic resurgence of the city.
Finally there’s Chuck Taylor, who began his career as a highly regarded basketball player but ventured into business and promotion where he found his true abilities — the marketing of shoes that would become an iconic part of American history and would fittingly bear his name: Chucks.
I suppose there are more famous names and probably some who have achieved even more. But when it comes to overall achievements and contributions, this first Hall of Fame group will be pretty tough to top.
MEET THE INDUCTEES
class of 1947
- Founding member of the Four Freshmen, known as nation’s No. 1 vocal and instrumental group in the 1950s
- Best known songs, “Graduation Day,” “Day by Day” and “It’s a Blue World”
- Recorded 39 albums and 34 single records
- Named 1964 best performance by a vocal group by The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
- Recorded shows for soldiers on the armed services network and performed at army bases all over the world
- First group inducted in the vocal hall of fame
- A member of the American Society of Composers, the American Society of Authors and the American Society of Publishers
- Sagamore of the Wabash recipient
class of 1929
- Three-year starter at Purdue, captain and all-Big Ten forward on 1934 conference championship team
- Member of 1932 Purdue team that won the national championship
- Head basketball coach at Tell City and Madison with his teams winning a total of 13 sectionals, six regionals, three semistates and one state championship (Madison).
- Head basketball coach at Purdue, 1950-65, with a record of 176 wins
- Recognized by A.G. Spaulding Co. as the coach who originated the orange basketball
- Purdue associate athletic director, 1963-78
- Member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, 1972 and Purdue Athletic Hall of Fame, 2007
W. Paul “Dutch” Fehring
class of 1930
- Earned nine letters in basketball, football and baseball at Purdue (one of only two athletes)
- Head baseball coach at Purdue and Stanford with 374 wins and 249 losses
- His 1967 Stanford team was No. 1 in nation and placed third in college world series
- Pac 10, District and ncaa Coach of the Year, 1967
- Assistant football coach at Purdue and Stanford
- Member of Purdue and Stanford athletic halls of fame, Indiana basketball and baseball halls of fame
- President-U.S. Baseball Federation, which presents the W.P. “Dutch” Fehring award of merit for outstanding service to baseball
Shirley A. Lyster
class of 1947
- English teacher at Columbus High School/Columbus North High School for 52½ years, including 33 years as department chairwoman
- Developed the phase elective program and wrote curriculum for over 80 courses
- Partnered with Arvin Industries to secure department grants; presented programs at 24 national conventions
- Two-time winner of ncte center of excellence award
- Edna Folger outstanding teacher award, 1983
- Bcsc hall of fame award, 1994
- Franklin College alumni citation, 1995
- Indianapolis Star Academic All-Star teacher: 1990, 1993, 2001, 2003
- U.S. Presidential scholars program teacher recognition award, 1998 and 2003
Sandra Bridges Newkirk
class of 1956
- Pioneer in women’s athletics during her 40-year career at Auburn University
- Physical education instructor, intramurals director and first women’s volleyball coach at Auburn University, while mentoring and advising thousands of students
- Founder and first president of the Alabama Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women
- Volleyball coach of the year, 1978, by the American Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women
- Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, 2005, for her humanitarian leadership and contributions to the Auburn community
- Pamela Wells Sheffield Award for her dedication to Auburn
- Rape counselor and charter member of Women Inspiring and Nurturing Greatness in Student-Athletes
Thomas E. Spurgeon
class of 1956
- Purdue graduate, 1961, industrial management, mba from Indiana University
- Entrepreneur, building companies throughout the United States, serving in ownership and management roles
- Service to Purdue in various positions as an alumnus
- Chairman of the Purdue University board of trustees
- Advisory board for IU School of Business
- Instructor at Indiana and Bradley universities
- Purdue President’s Council Distinguished Pinnacle Award, 2002
- Purdue Alumni Citizenship Award, 2008
- The Tom Spurgeon golf training center and the Spurgeon Hall of Spirit named in his honor at Purdue University
William L. “Bill” Stearman
class of 1943
- Indiana University graduate, 1948, baseball letter winner and Balfour award winner, junior year
- Spent 46 years in education at Columbus High School/Columbus North High School, where he taught, coached basketball and baseball and served as athletic director
- In 1984 the dedication of the William L. Stearman Athletic Complex
- His 714 wins rank him as the fourth winningest coach in Indiana high school basketball
- His basketball teams won 27 sectionals, 12 regionals and 2 semistates
- Member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, 1983
- Recipient of the Z.H. Clevenger Award for his service to IU athletics, 1990
- Distinguished Service Award winner for the National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association, 1993
Robert N. Stewart
Class of 1947
- After his sophomore year at Columbus High School, he was admitted to the University of Chicago. After two years there, he transferred to Franklin College, where he graduated two years later.
- Shown outstanding dedication throughout his life to the Columbus community
- Was first three-term mayor of Columbus, 1983-95, bringing new jobs and property investments to the city
- President of Chamber of Commerce, first co-chairman of the UnCommon Cause and Republican State Chairman
- Sagamore of the Wabash, 1969, 1982, 1983, 1995
- Recipient of the 1995 Russell G. Lloyd Distinguished Service Award, highest award given to a public official by the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns
Charles H. (Chuck) Taylor
class of 1919
- His life was dedicated to improving the game of basketball for players, coaches and fans
- In 1921 his suggestions of changing the design of the basketball shoe were adopted. All-Star logo and patch were added, and in 1923, it became the Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
- Began the Converse Basketball Yearbook in 1923, which highlighted the best teams and players in the U.S.
- Conducted clinics and demonstrations across the country in high schools and colleges
- Promoted basketball internationally and was known as the “ambassador of basketball”
- Member of the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame, 1958
- National Basketball Hall of Fame, 1969
- Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, 1989
Harry McCawley is associate editor of The Republic. He can be reached by phone at 379-5620 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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