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15 Inducted Into Hall

Published Wednesday, May 6, 1998 in the Gurdon Times

Fifteen former athletes and coaches were inducted into the Gurdon Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday night.

This was done at the Second Annual Gurdon Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet.

The crowd gathered well before the banquet began, many touring the new Gurdon High School, with others simply visiting and renewing old acquaintances and friendships.

As time for the banquet and inductions began, the GHS cafetorium filled quickly. The conversations continued with the visitors talking about the changes in their lives as well as the new structures for students.

When the festivities began, GHS Principal Leonard Gills welcomed all, telling them the Go-Devils had won their third district title of the year the most recent in baseball.

There were many accomplishments during the year, he said, telling the guests students have been at the new GHS since January 1996, with a new middle school nearly completed.

Those to be inducted, he said, were being recognized for the contributions they gave to their teams, the school and community.

Rick Pruitt acted as master of ceremonies, saying the group to be inducted helped mold Gurdon's rich athletic tradition. "Few small schools can boast the tradition Gurdon has," he said.

First on the list for the hall was Paul Calley, as introduced by former GHS coach Jim Stiffler.

Stiffler said Calley was a sports fanatic, who wanted to be a Go-Devil.

Calley, he said, began as a ball boy for the Devils, but had high ambitions as he earned several honors on the gridiron at GHS before going to Henderson, where more honors and accolades came to him.

"He's what all parents should want their son to grow up like," he said.

Calley kept his message simple, saying he's been blessed in many ways for 29 years.

He said the team had a great coach, it was a good team and the backs made the line look good.

Joe Crow had the privilege of introducing his wife, Carolyn, as a recipient. He said his wife is a great lady who played for a great coach and was on a great team.

As a Devil, she earned honors as All District and All State.

"I appreciate what my husband said about me," she said upon accepting the honor.

She also thanked the selection committee, as did all recipients, saying it was an honor she would always cherish.

Third on the list was Bob Thomas, who introduced Ronnie Bailey.

Thomas kept the audience laughing with stories about his good friend Bailey.

"He's like a brother to me," Thomas said. "He's a close personal friend."

Thomas said Bailey was the type of person who never gave up, who was a team player and lived football.

Bailey, he said, had a 9 p.m. curfew while in high school and always gave 100 percent, trying to excel and go beyond.

According to Thomas, Bailey had to overcome asthma to succeed at football, but outgrew it and earned a number of honors for GHS. He also went to Henderson and played under legendary coach Duke Wells.

"There's nothing left for me to say," Bailey joked when taking the stage. "This was an unexpected and great honor. I'm proud to be here, take part in this special night and be associated with these Hall of Fame inductees. There's a lot of talent here."

Ever the team player, Bailey praised the other members of the Devil squad, saying he could have done nothing without them.

"Being a Go-Devil was the highlight of my life. This is a special place with special people."

Rod Cooper then introduced his wife, Edna, as the next inductee. She, he said, was All District five times, All State twice, made the Arkansas Dream Team and is now a special ed teacher at Gurdon.

She kept her remarks brief, thanking those who made it possible for her to be honored.

Grady Cathey introduced Ray Tucker, calling him one of the best players he ever had. "He was a good player, talented," he said.

Tucker made All District with Gurdon in basketball and football and earned honorable mention All AIC at Henderson.

Tucker, taking the podium, thanked everyone for the honor. "It's a privilege to be here tonight," he said, quickly turning the topic to his former coach. "Cathey is a man of integrity. He never cursed and treated everyone equally. He was the best coach I ever had."

Recalling life in Gurdon, Tucker said doors were never locked and keys could be left in cars without worry. "This was a fantastic place to grow up."

Larry Hatley introduced Katie Tatum, saying she was the 10th of 12 children. She also played basketball at Henderson, earning All-AIC honors, along with being named NAIA player of the week several times.

Tatum accepted the award on behalf of her family, saying she was grateful to be so honored.

"This is a first for me,"she said. "I never thought I'd be in any kind of Hall of Fame. I have wonderful memories of here and it was truly great to be a Go-Devil."

Roy Karr said it was get even night as he introduced Pete Prewett, the man who coined the term, "It's great to be a Go- Devil."

Karr said when Prewett came to Gurdon in 1963 the team wasn't much to look at, but he took the Devils and began to develop the talent he had.

By the end of the season, the team began coming around, and bulked up somewhat by the '64 campaign, with the Devils going through the year undefeated.

"He knew how to get the most out of the kids," he said. "He created something in us, the desire to be winners. He developed a lot of confidence in us."

Karr said Prewett reminded him of Penn State coach Joe Paterno because both teach confidence to their players.

Prewett said Karr was nuts for comparing him to Paterno. "I know one big difference in us," he joked. "He got paid more.

"I was blessed in many ways. I began at Gurdon, coming to help Coach Cathey. When he left he said I should take the job with the talent coming along. I came along at the right time."

Prewett said he made many great friends while in Gurdon, with his children all being born here.

"Gurdon helped us get started. We were fortunate from there on."

Mark Keith followed, introducing former Lady Devil coach Diane (Arrington) Keith, his sister-in-law.

The two faced each other as opposing coaches while she was at Gurdon and he coached at Stephens.

He called her a great coach and dear friend.

Keith, who coached at Gurdon for seven years, said she had many thoughts since being informed of being an inductee.

She came to Gurdon as a 20-year-old coach with 18-year-old players, but, she said, Gurdon was a friendly community which made it much easier.

"I learned discipline," she said. "There were people here I could count on. All I had to do was coach. I enjoyed coaching at Gurdon more than anywhere."

During her tenure as coac

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