Growing up in Arkansas, I took pride in the things that distinguished the state from others, including its native sons and daughters.
Growing up in Arkansas, I took pride in the things that distinguished the state from others, including its native sons and daughters. Gen. MacArthur, a war hero, "Dizzy" Dean, a baseball pitcher, and Dick Powell, an actor of that era, were among the notable people born in what was then called The Bear State. Neosho has ample reason to be proud of its people who have gone on to do great things, contributing much in virtually every area of endeavor.
Art comes up big in Neosho, being the birthplace of Thomas Hart Benton. The works of Don Draper were recognized widely. Mikel Dunham is not only an artist, but a writer knowledgeable of Tibet and Nepal. Jenny Crouch Stanford has a portrait of Hillary Clinton in the Smithsonian Institution. Billie Gofourth Stewart is a Neosho favorite, and Doug Hall does outstanding work with Native Americans. Larry Klingman is an established painter from Neosho and Jeffrey Jones is emerging as a talented artist in several mediums.
Neosho and Newton County have produced scores of medical doctors, many graduating from Tulane Medical School. Among these were Charles Byron Wilson, a renowned brain surgeon and Jefferson "Buddy" Davis, a burn specialist.
NHS debaters Lori Boatright and Marc Hurn are among Neoshoans who have done well in the field of law. James England recently retired as a federal magistrate judge.
A long list of Neosho products have distinguished themselves in the field of education, including a host of college professors. Dr. Arthur Hastings is an acclaimed teacher, researcher and administrator in the field of psychology. John Gyer of John Hopkins University and the founder of the water and wastewater school in Neosho was an expert in the field. Locally, longtime Superintendent of Schools Bob Anderson was a key figure in the establishment of Crowder College. Jim Tatum and Peggy Payne have been recognized by the state board of education as "educational pioneers."
Robin Montz was named the Missouri Teacher of the Year. Alan Marble and Roger Wagner are currently serving as community college presidents. Allison Dabbs Garett was recently named as vice president of Abilene Christian University.
Neosho has contributed to the world of entertainment. Ragtime musician James Scott was born here. Will Rogers briefly attended school at Scarritt College and John Brown once served as president. As a young man, Gene Autry spent time in Neosho. Jackie Scott of the class of '49 went on to become a successful actress in Hollywood. In the sportsworld, Ralph Houk, successful big league manager, got his start in professional baseball with the Neosho Yankees. Don Clendon, most valuable player of the 1969 World Series, listed Neosho as his birthplace. Big league pitcher Andy Ashby (Crowder) and Scott Elbert (Legion) performed in Neosho.
Jim Ashmore (Mississippi Southern) and David Pike (Crowder) were All-American basketball players. Will Rudd, the traveling secretary for the world champion Kansas City Royals in 1985, is now an administrator with the National Football Foundation. As sports director for WNDV-TV in South Bend, Ind., Jeff Jeffers is recognized as dean of local sports in Michigan and is the voice of Notre Dame football.
In the military, Waldo Hatler was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I. Both Roy Gene Anderson and Wayne Rickman attained the rank of admiral in the Navy. Mort Walker, creator of the comic strip "Beetle Bailey," and TV personality Dick Van Dyke spent time in Camp Crowder.
Other notables from various fields include George Washington Carver, great scientist and educator, who received his first formal schooling in Neosho. Hermann Jaeger was honored by the government of France for his contribution in saving their grape vineyards. Hugh Robinson, pioneer aviator and inventor of the tail hook, came from Neosho. Dan Longwell, former managing editor of Life magazine, had close connections with the area. Glenna Wallace is the first female chief of the Eastern Shawnee tribe. Pam Cope has received acclaim for her book and for her husband Randy's work through the Touch a Life Foundation. Rudy Farber has been quite successful in banking. Omitted from this list are numerous authors, business and religious leaders. Now you can understand the difficulties the Neosho R-5 Foundation has in selecting alumni and educators to recognize.
There are many other deserving individuals who could not be listed and undoubtedly others of which I am not aware. I apologize for the omissions. There are young people forging careers today who we will be reading about in years to come. Next week, we will take a look at Neosho attractions.
Roy Shaver writes a weekly column for the Daily News.