MHS enshrines its first HOF class

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on May 15, 2019 - 03:02 PM

Photo: Harry Ward, who wore many hats in his 35 years with Mathews schools, including coach, teacher, principal and superintendent of schools, was one of 33 people honored as Mathews High School inducted its inaugural class into the school’s Hall of Fame during a program Friday evening at the school’s Harry M. Ward Auditorium. He is shown here with his children Gary Ward and Sherri Janelle. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Harry Ward, who wore many hats in his 35 years with Mathews schools, including coach, teacher, principal and superintendent of schools, was one of 33 people honored as Mathews High School inducted its inaugural class into the school’s Hall of Fame during a program Friday evening at the school’s Harry M. Ward Auditorium. He is shown here with his children Gary Ward and Sherri Janelle. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Mathews High School Athletic Director Al Thomas, at left, helped to emcee Friday night’s Hall of Fame program. Among the inductees present were, from left, Tom Holaday, Malcolm Blacken, Joe Silvus, William James and Craig Todd. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Mathews High School Athletic Director Al Thomas, at left, helped to emcee Friday night’s Hall of Fame program. Among the inductees present were, from left, Tom Holaday, Malcolm Blacken, Joe Silvus, William James and Craig Todd. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Photo: Former Washington Redskin Stuart Anderson, standing, shakes the hand of fellow HOF inductee Robert Thomas, who coached the Mathews High School softball team to its first state championship in 2017. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Former Washington Redskin Stuart Anderson, standing, shakes the hand of fellow HOF inductee Robert Thomas, who coached the Mathews High School softball team to its first state championship in 2017. Photo by Charlie Koenig

Mathews High School first opened its doors in 1939. Some 80 years later, the school has finally gotten around to enshrining its outstanding athletes, coaches and contributors.

A large crowd turned out Friday evening to welcome the Class of 2019 into the newly created MHS Hall of Fame, as inductees, their family and friends gathered in the school’s Harry M. Ward Auditorium.

Ward, who wore many hats in his 35 years with Mathews schools (MHS football and baseball coach, teacher, principal and superintendent of schools), was one of the 33 inductees in this year’s inaugural class.

One of the more emotional moments of hour-long program was saved for the end, when Ward was recognized as the Class of 2019’s final inductee. Ward, who began his career at MHS in 1968, has been suffering from poor health recently. But that didn’t stop him from getting up on stage to receive his plaque amid a rousing round of applause and cheers from the assembled guests and honorees.

The Hall of Fame inductees included former World Series pitcher Keith Atherton and Super Bowl linebacker Stuart Anderson, both of whom were in attendance.

Other inductees for this first year were: Coaches—Ken Brown Sr., Allen Moughon, Elma Moughon, Steven Lewis, Vic Camechis, John E. Brown, Bruce Shumaker, David  Anthony, Tom Holaday and Robert Thomas; Athletes—Norman Dinwiddie, Charles Minters, Mark Royals, Malcolm Blacken, Joe Silvus, Matt Muffelman, William James, Craig Todd, Denise “Dee Dee” Brooks Williams, Amanda Morris Robinson, Allie Bridge Robins, Sharese Jarvis, Ashley Hudgins and Morgan Johnson; Contributors—James R. Lewis, Richard Perry, John Lanford, Tom Dutton, Bill Hudgins and Dr. C. Ben Lennon.

Assistant Athletic Director Al DeWitt, who spearheaded the creation of the MHS Hall of Fame, and AD Al Thomas took turns introducing the inductees, many of whom were in attendance. DeWitt said that this will be a sustaining effort with new members inducted every May.

A committee made up of Hall of Fame members will make the final selections. Athletes must have been out of high school for at least four years to be considered, while coaching nominees must no longer be coaching at MHS to be eligible.

The three plaques, bearing the names of all the coaches, athletes and contributors will be on display at the school, as well as three special plaques to recognize the accomplishments of Ward, Ken Brown Sr. and Steven Lewis. Brown initiated the football program at MHS, while Lewis was the first African-American head boys’ basketball coach at a predominantly white high school in Virginia. Lewis also led the MHS boys’ track team to its first state championship in 1970.

In his comments, DeWitt thanked MHS tennis coach LaDonna Crain and Allie Robins for their help with this first Hall of Fame program, as well as Thomas for the support of the school’s administration and Nelda Gibbs and her staff for preparing the food for the reception that followed.

“It was a labor of love for him,” Thomas said, speaking of DeWitt’s passion for getting the Hall of Fame off the ground. Now that DeWitt has passed off the management of this annual program, Thomas said he expects that DeWitt’s name will be added soon to the Hall of Fame roster. In addition to serving as MHS Athletic Director and coaching football, DeWitt was head coach of the 2004 state champion Blue Devil baseball team.