November 17, 2018

Alex Sports Hall of Fame Class announced

Seventh group of inductees to be enshrined November 19

 The Alexander County Public Education Foundation and the Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame have announced the Seventh Hall of Fame Class of inductees.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2012 to recognize, honor and memorialize those individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to sports in Alexander County and who have lived a life of exemplary character.
The Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be inducted on Monday, November 19, at 6:00 pm at the Alexander Central High School Auditorium.   Tickets will be $20 per person, which will include a reception along with the induction ceremony.
The Alexander County Public Education Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of the following persons for induction in the Class of 2018:  Efird Gwaltney, Jeff Isenhour, Jim St. Clair, Richard White, and Ronnie Williams.
EFIRD GWALTNEY
When it comes to hitting a baseball or softball, the late Efird Gwaltney was always considered one of the best in Alexander County Sports history.
A feared hitter, Gwaltney played for the 1951 Hickory Rebels Baseball Club and compiled a 13-6 record. He once blasted three homers while playing a game for the Rebels team. In addition to playing in Hickory, Gwaltney was a member of the Charlotte Hornets  professional baseball organization and played for teams in Lincolnton and Statesville.
After baseball, he turned to softball where the burly left handed slugger was known for his towering home runs as he played locally for more than 30 years.  While playing softball, Gwaltney also served as a deputy for the Alexander County Sheriff’s Department and operated a chicken house on his property.
In 1985, The Taylorsville Times and Alexander County Recreation Department held a vote to choose living legends in the county to participate in a special softball event. Gwaltney was the leading vote getter in the contest. In addition, he was selected to play in a special legends batting contest at the Hickory Crawdads’ park, LP Frans Stadium, in 1993.
In 2002, Gwaltney was honored when a field at Dusty Ridge Park was named in his memory.
Gwaltney was born September 19, 1926 and passed away December 7, 1993. He and his wife Drusilla lived in the Hiddenite Community and were the parents of five children: Eddie, Gary, David, Jimmy, and Cindy. Gwaltney’s softball legacy in the county can still be seen today. His great grand daughters, Kiana and Chesney Millsaps,  were star players for Alexander Central State Championship winning teams in 2013, 2014, and 2018.
JEFF ISENHOUR
Retired Professional Golf Association professional Jeff Isenhour was a gifted high school athlete at Taylorsville High School before becoming a golf pro at three area courses.
A 1969 graduate of THS, Isenhour was a three-sport star for the bears. He played football, basketball, and golf at the school for four years. He was an All-Conference performer in all three spots in 1969. That same year, Isenhour captured the Brushy Mountain Golf Club championship for the first time. He added another club title to his resume two years later in 1971.
After high school, Isenhour starred as a player for the Wilkes Community College and Lenoir-Rhyne College golf programs. In 1971, Isenhour placed third individually as Wilkes CC captured the Community College Conference Championship. He later played for an LR team which captured the District 26 title in 1972.
Isenhour has served as a golf professional at Brushy Mountain, Hampton Heights, and Rock Barn Country Club and Spa. While at Rock Barn, Isenhour was the club professional for 12 Senior PGA events at the Conover course. In addition to running the annual event for a dozen years, Isenhour played in the Greater Hickory Classic in 2003 and 2004. He was voted the 2017 NC Golf Professional of the Year by North Carolina State Magazine.
Jeff and his wife, Debbie, live on Eagle Drive in Taylorsville. They have two daughters, Brigette and Tara, and one son, the late Justin Isenhour.
JIM ST.CLAIR
Jim St. Clair grew up in Taylorsville and was a standout baseball and football player at Taylorsville High School.
St. Clair played high school baseball for Taylorsville from 1948-1951 and compiled a .300 batting average during his prep career. After high school, St. Clair attended a Cincinnati Reds professional baseball tryout which resulted in his signing a professional baseball contract with the organization on May 27, 1951. He was 17 years old when he inked the deal with the Reds. St. Clair played professionally in the Reds Organization from 1951-1954 and 1956-1958. He was drafted into the Army in 1955, and served for two years before returning to play professional ball. While in the military, St. Clair played in an Army baseball league where he pitched and played in the outfield.
After marrying Jean Morrison and the birth of their first daughter, St. Clair had one of his best seasons as a pro in 1958, appearing in 135 games for the Savannah Redlegs. He finished the year with a .265 average with 16 doubles and nine homers.
After that season, St. Clair chose to step away from the game to better provide for his young family. During his professional  career, St. Clair had the opportunity to play with Major League Baseball greats which included Johnny VanderMeer and Frank Robinson.
 St. Clair chose to fuel his competitive fire away from baseball by playing golf. A member of Brushy Mountain Golf Club in Taylorsville, St. Clair is known for a  historic hole-in-one on the 308-yard, par four fourth hole at the local course. It was the first hole-in-one on a par four ever recorded at BMGC and was witnessed by friends Paul Harrington and Wayne Lowman.
St. Clair, now 84,  still resides in Taylorsville. He and his wife have two daughters, Pam St. Clair and Penny St. Clair Holmes.
RICHARD WHITE
Richard Oliver White graduated from Kings Mountain High School in 1950 where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He was selected captain of the football team and served as president of the student body his senior year. He enlisted in the Navy and served on a destroyer as a radioman during the Korean Conflict. He met his wife, Barbara, while stationed in Key West, Florida, and they married in 1954.
After his military service, he earned his degree in Physical Education at Lenoir-Rhyne College and got his first teaching and assistant football coaching job at Taylorsville High School. He later received his Masters Degree in Education from Appalachian State University. He also coached boys and girls basketball at Taylorsville High School.
At the time of the consolidation of the county’s four high schools in 1970, White chose to remain on the junior high level where he spent the next 26 years serving as teacher, coach, athletic director, and assistant principal. He taught at Taylorsville Junior High, Hiddenite Junior High and East Junior High. “Coach” managed Northwood Swim Club in Taylorsville where he taught swimming each summer for 30 years. He is a member of Reformation Lutheran Church where he has served as Council President and taught Sunday School for more than 40 years.
In 2014, Coach White received one of the highest honors the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen when he was presented The Order of the Long Leaf Pine from then Governor Pat McCroy. He also received the Alexander County’s Prestigious Award of Honor in 2009.
RONNIE WILLIAMS
Ronnie Dale Williams is a life-long resident of Taylorsville where he was born November 23, 1950.
A graduate of Taylorsville High School in 1970,  he  is a life-long member of East Taylorsville Baptist Church. At East Taylorsville, Ronnie has served the church’s AWANA youth program for more than 30 years. He is also a member of the greeter and counting teams at ETBC.
Williams is known across Alexander County as one of the most successful Special Olympians ever. Though the total number is unknown, Williams has garnered numerous medals at the games, which are held each spring.
In addition to his Special Olympics medals, Williams has also been  recognized with a pair of special awards from different organizations. In 2017, he was presented with the Brett Workman Award during the Alexander County Special Olympic Games at ACHS. Williams also received the AWANA Award from East Taylorsville Baptist Church.
Williams, age 67, is the ninth of the children born to the late Willie David and Etta Mae Childers Williams.
ABOUT THE NOMINATION  PROCESS
Once a person is nominated, his or her nomination remains permanent and will receive selection consideration each year by the selection committee.
Nomination forms are found on the Education Foundation link on the Alexander County Schools’ webpage (www.alexander.k12.nc.us) and are due by June 1 each year.
Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame Committee members include John Bruce (Chairman), Dennis Smart (Treasurer), Brigette Rhyne (Secretary), Andy Anderson, Alvin Burke, Anna Ferguson, Mike Millsaps, Donny Pennell, Bobby White, and Larry Yoder.
ALEXANDER SPORTS  HALL  OF FAME  INDUCTEES
2012
• Heath Bost
• Harry Gant
• Kay Wilson Hammer
• Thurmond Teague
• David Elder
• Pat Gainey
(posthumously)
2013
• Joan Gilreath Sykes
• Scooter Grinton
• Dave Jolly
(posthumously)
• Raeford Thomas
• Glenn Wilson
• Rex White
2014
• Gary Lail
• Angelle Pennell Foust
• Richard Mash
• Gary Walker
2015
•   Mitzi Davis
• Robin Harris
• Shena Bowman Hollar
• Chris Kite
• Edwin Thomas
2016
•   Jeremy Fortner
• Jerry Ray Fox
• Karen “KC” Setzer
• Rick Sherrill
• Van Tarlton
2017
•   Reba Hefner Bolick
• Laura Thomas Laws
•Jim Poole
• AY Yoder
• Dale Yount

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