Membership in the exclusive St. Clair High School Bulldog Hall of Honor now stands at 20 after the two latest inductees were honored last Saturday night.
Charles Willis, SCHS Class of 1982, and Jeff Barrett, Class of 1988, became the 19th and 20th individuals to be recognized.
The inductees were chosen through a nomination process and selected based on their athletic achievements at SCHS and beyond.
Both inductees will receive a plaque which will be displayed in the upper level of the gymnasium with the other nominees.
“The St. Clair Athletic Boosters were proud to induct Jeff Barrett and Charles Willis to our Hall of Honor,” Boosters Secretary Becky Branscum told The Missourian. “We felt both nominations were very deserving. Both Jeff and Charles are continuing to give back to children in their communities in such positive ways.
“The entire evening was a success from our standpoint. The boosters would like to encourage everyone to be thinking about nominations for the hall of honor for next year. Thanks go out to everyone who donated items or their time to the auction.”
The event is sponsored by the SCHS Booster Club. Proceeds help with the booster club scholarship program as well as expenses for SCHS athletic teams.
Willis was a two-sport standout in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Clair High School, lettering four years in track and field and two years in football.
Two of his top performances around the oval — the 200- and 400-meter dashes — still stand as SCHS records. They were set in 1980 and 1981, respectively.
He was a four-year performer at the state track and field championships. He medaled in the 400 in 1981 and finished second in the 400, sixth in the 100 and eighth in the 200 the following year.
He also excelled in district competition, earning a first place in the 400 in 1982 and seconds the same year in the 100, 200 and 1600 relay.
On the gridiron, he led the conference in rushing yards and was a first-team performer in the sport in 1982.
“Charles was an amazing athlete,” said Elizabeth Gotway, who nominated Willis for the hall of honor. “He was respected by his peers, teachers and competitors. ... He persevered and succeeded in life just as he did in athletics. He became a role model, choosing to help youth and fight drug problems in schools and on the streets.”
According to his nomination form, Willis attended Southwest Missouri State University and played football there his freshman year. He also went to Texas A&M where he played for a short time before going to the Kansas City Chiefs organization for six years.
After that, he enrolled in the state police academy and he became a St. Louis County police officer, where he has received awards and commendations for his work with youths and drug enforcement.
He remains with the Jennings Police Department in St. Louis County and currently owns his own motorcycle shop in Illinois.
Willis also was Saturday’s guest speaker.
Barrett also excelled in track and football while at St. Clair High School.
On the gridiron, he amassed 3,450 rushing yards in three seasons and tallied 39 touchdowns and 28 extra points. He was named the Bulldogs offensive MVP all three years he played on the varsity squad.
He earned all-conference honors his senior year and was a first-team all-district and all-metro performer. Also during that final prep season, he led St. Clair to an 11-2 overall record and to an appearance in the Missouri State semifinals. He was selected for the state east-west all-star game.
After high school, Barrett earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. Currently, he is the president of the St. Clair Junior Dogs football program and has been a coach for 12 years.
Current SCHS football coach Cody McDowell nominated Barrett.
“Jeff was an easy candidate for a lot of reasons,” McDowell said. “He has multiple records on our football record board, and he was a student-athlete who excelled in track as well as football. He went on to college to play football but ended up with a career-ending injury.
“Jeff didn’t allow that to keep him from continuing his education as he obtained a degree and has used that education to start and run his own business. He was also a great coach and mentor for a lot of the kids we now have on our team. He has coached Jr. Dogs football for numerous years and has an outstanding relationship with a lot of our current student-athletes.”
The other members of the SCHS Hall of Honor are Forrest Hamilton, Class of 1948; Lee McKinney, 1953; Floyd Reed, 1953; Jim Wall, 1957; Mike Saling, 1964; Don Carpenter, 1964; Marty Willis, 1984; Amy Stahlman, 1987; Tonya Flora, 1991; Jason White, 1992; Brian Schmitt, 1994; Jenny Oermann, 1995; Josh Perkins, 1997; Justin Skaggs, 1997; Jamie Rodrigue, 1999; coach Teresa Clonts; teacher Elizabeth Bruns, who once set the national high school record in the 100-yard dash; and teacher and coach Dave Purviance, who has been roaming the high school hallways and athletic fields for 31 years.
Bruns and Purviance were the 2012 inductees when the hall of honor recognition was resurrected after a several-year absence.