The Washington School District’s WINGS Educational Foundation will induct its fifth class to the Hall of Honor Thursday, Sept. 19.
The WINGS Hall of Honor was formed to recognize alumni, community contributors and educators who have shown exceptional personal, community or professional achievement.
The 2013 honorees are Clifford Aitch, who will receive the Alumni Award, Bill and Judy Verdine, Community Contributor Award, and Nelson Hall, Educator Award.
A formal dinner to honor the recipients will be held at the Washington Brewery Banquet Hall. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m.
Tickets are $50 per person with tables of eight available.
Reservations may be made by mailing a check payable to the WINGS Educational Foundation, Hall of Honor, P.O. Box 203, Washington, MO 63090.
The deadline to make reservations is Sept. 5.
WINGS hopes the stories of those honored will inspire and motivate current and future students of the district.
The 2009 recipients were Lorene Ramsey, alumni; Ben A. Geisert, Community Contributor; and Dr. Don Northington, Educator. In 2010, the recipients were The Rev. Dr. Harold Wilke, Alumni; Frank and Ruth Wood, Community Contributor; and Jackie Krafft, Educator.
The 2011 recipients were Lester A. Stumpe, Alumni; Jo Ann and Jack Hagedorn, Community Contributor, and Jim Scanlan, Educator, and in 2012, the recipients were David Terre, Alumni; Ron Cowan, Community Contributor; and Gene Hunt, Educator.
Here are profiles on this year’s recipients.
Clifford Aitch was born in Washington in 1941 to Daniel and Opal Kemp Aitch. He attended the Crispus Attucks School for “children of color” which was a one-room schoolhouse for grades 1-8.
Aitch was the last graduate of the Attucks School in April 1955, prior to integration with the Washington School District. In 1957, he was a member of the American Legion baseball team that won the state championship.
During his senior year at Washington High School, in 1959, Aitch was recruited by the St. Louis Cardinals and offered the opportunity to try out for the squad.
Instead, he chose to attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City and further his education.
The Lake of the Ozarks offered him a scholarship, but rescinded the offer when they realized he was “colored.”
Aitch’s father, his first mentor, worked at many local businesses doing custodial and maintenance work. Aitch helped his father at many of these jobs during the summer and in the evenings when he was in school. His father imparted a strong and positive work ethic in his son.
In 1963, Aitch earned his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln with a major in health and physical education. He was the first African-American teacher in the Washington School District when he was hired to teach physical education at Fifth Street, South Point and Marthasville elementary schools.
During the summers, he attended Central Missouri State University where he earned a master’s degree in health and physical education in 1976.
Beginning in 1967, during the height of racial rioting, Aitch chose to relocate to Detroit where he taught at Stephens Elementary, Joy Middle School and served as assistant basketball coach at Finney High School. His lifelong love of sports led him to become a team leader in parks and recreation for more than 25 years.
Coach Glen Cafer, who was Aitch’s second mentor, recruited him to coach with him at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
Coach Cafer was a very successful basketball coach at Washington High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s and coached Aitch during that time.
For two years (1974-1976) Aitch was assistant basketball coach and head track and field and cross country coach at Washburn University. During the summers, he played semi-pro baseball for the Washington Buds.
After his years at Washburn University, Aitch returned to Detroit and became athletic director and baseball coach at Shaw College.
Continuing until 1984, he served as men's basketball coach and taught health and physical education.
With the closing of Shaw College, he returned to Detroit public schools where he taught at the middle school level and coached both boys and girls in basketball at the high school level.
During his years at Finney High School, he coached the boys basketball teams to three district championships, two regional championships, one quarter final championship and finished in the final four for the state of Michigan.
Following his inspiration, several of Aitch’s former players have gone on to the National Football League, National Basketball League, and became players in Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Israel. Many more have attended and completed two- and four-year institutions.
As a result of his success at Finney, Aitch was elected to the Detroit Coaching Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 1972, Aitch married Beverly Norrell. They have one daughter, Kea Norrell Aitch, and one grandson, Joshua Emil Boyd. This year, they will celebrate 41 years of marriage.
Aitch has always maintained his ties to Washington and has enduring friendships with many classmates and friends.
Bill and Judy Verdine
Community Contributor Award
Judy Loreman Verdine was born in Stromsburg, Neb., graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1968 and then moved to Washington to teach home economics at Washington High School.
She met Bill Verdine shortly after and the two were married in 1969. Judy Verdine taught at Washington High until 1973, receiving the Washington Jaycees Outstanding Educator Award in 1971-72.
After her years at WHS, she taught part time at East Central College, built a stained-glass business that involved teaching and commission work, worked as office manager at Schroeder Drug Store, and raised a family of two very successful children.
She stayed involved in the school district by being a room mother and classroom volunteer, serving on the long-range planning committee for the district, and band booster co-treasurer with her husband for six years.
Judy Verdine was one of the founders of the WHS Academic Boosters and was involved from 1990-1996 and served as president for two years. She was one of the founders and a charter member of the WINGS Educational Foundation, serving from 1992-1999. She served as secretary, vice chair, and the second chairman of the board of directors.
Verdine also has been very involved in St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, sitting on numerous committees and boards, and serving as congregation president for two years.
Additionally, she served on the Fair queen committee of the Washington Town and Country Fair.
In 2005 her hometown, a Swedish community in Nebraska, named her as “Honorary Swede” for distinguishing herself by participation in activities involving her community, school and church.
One of Verdine’s loves has been the local Chapter CD of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.). She served as a local chapter officer for 12 years, was on the state board for seven years, and served as Missouri state P.E.O. president in 2004 and 2005.
In 2011, she served as chairman of the Convention of International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. This convention was held in St. Louis with 3,500 attendees.
Bill Verdine was born in St. Louis, moved to Washington during his fifth-grade year, and graduated from Washington High in 1961.
In 1966, Verdine graduated with a degree in pharmacy from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. That same year, he was drafted and began his military training at Fort Leonard Wood and was eventually stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., until 1968.
Later that same year, he began a career as a pharmacist at Schroeder Drug Store in Washington. The next year, Bill and Judy were married.
In 1989, after 21 years working at Schroeder’s, Bill Verdine became co-owner and president of the company. Over the years, he actively supported the Washington schools through various donations and advertising opportunities.
In 2008, Verdine retired and sold his stake in Schroeder’s.
Over the years, he volunteered many hours to St. Peter’s United Church of Christ and the Washington School District.
He also served on the church council for six years with one year as president of the congregation.
He was elected twice to the Washington Board of Education, serving six years from 1984 to 1990.
While on the board, he served as secretary and vice president. From 1992 to 2010, he served on the Public Building Corporation committee for the benefit of the school district.
The Verdines have served as co-treasurers for the band boosters for the school district from 1989-1995.
Together, they served 15 years, from 1991 to 2006, on the fund-raising board for Emmaus Homes and chaired the “Open Your Heart Dinner” for three years.
Bill Verdine has also served on the Emmaus Advocacy Board from 2000-2006.
In 2004, the Verdines were inducted as lifetime members of the Mortar and Pestle Society, a select group of alumni and friends who support the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
The couple’s passion for the Washington School District is evident throughout the district. A stained-glass Blue Jay greets visitors to WHS in the Northington Lobby. The stained-glass elevator sign at the board of education office also is a display of many hours of dedication to the district. Both of these works of art were made by the Verdines.
The Verdines have two children and four grandchildren. Their children are Benjamin and wife Diane of Washington and Elizabeth Frick and husband Adam of St. Louis.
Nelson H. Hall
Nelson H. Hall was born in 1915 on the Hall family farm near Ashland, and was salutatorian of Ashland High School in 1934.
Hall earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1940 with a major in animal husbandry and a minor in dairy husbandry. In 1941, he earned a master’s degree.
Hall taught the next year at Montgomery City and spent the next several years farming on the family farm. During this time, he met and married Mary Tate.
From 1947 to 1953, Hall taught veterans as a vocational agriculture teacher at Tipton High School. From 1953 to 1956, he taught vocational agriculture at Warrenton High School and then in the fall of 1956 began his 20-year career at Washington High School.
During this time, Hall taught vocational agriculture/agricultural education and guided the Washington Chapter of the Future Farmers of America.
During his 20 years at WHS, he mentored many young men to achieve sub-district/area, district, state and American FFA awards and degrees, as well as serve as sub-district/area, district and state officers.
The Washington chapter, under Hall’s leadership, traditionally qualified for the Superior Chapter Award at the state level.
Hall and his students were especially proud of having been selected as part of a prestigious USDA event when a delegation from Russia came in 1962 to visit and learn about the agricultural program at Washington High School.
In 1965, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association. He received the Honorary State FFA Degree in 1958 and in 1974, he received the Honorary American FFA Degree.
In 1969, girls were allowed to enroll in vocational agriculture classes and join the Future Farmers of America chapter. Instead of fighting this change, Hall welcomed it and was pleased to open the program to girls. That year only one girl enrolled, but she paved the way for many others.
Many people in Washington will remember the International Pipe Smoking Contest of 1968 at the Washington Town and Country Fair when Hall won first place. This feat allowed him to be asked to appear on the television program “To Tell the Truth” in 1969.
That same year, Hall saw his vocational agricultural program move from Washington High School into the new vocational school (now Four Rivers Area Vocational-Technical School). This move greatly enhanced and assisted with the growth of the agricultural program.
In nominating Hall for the Hall of Honor, many former students and colleagues wrote of how important he was to their lives and their successful careers.
A number of those who wrote letters of recommendation were inspired by Hall to become vocational agricultural teachers. Included in this group are teachers who were awarded Outstanding Agriculture Teacher of the State and whose programs were awarded Outstanding Agriculture Education Departments in the state of Missouri.
These educators give Hall’s caring leadership, drive and zeal the credit for their accomplishments. As one former student said, “Without any hesitation, I consider Nelson Hall the most influential teacher throughout my educational career.”
After retirement in 1976, Hall and his wife moved back to the family farm near Ashland were he enjoyed gardening and raising strawberries. He did some substituting at his alma mater, Ashland High School, and especially cherished frequent visits from former students.
One of his favorite moments was being asked to address a class of graduating vocational agriculture teachers from the University of Missouri-Columbia in the 1980s. This was a fitting honor for a man so devoted to agriculture and to teaching.
Hall’s wife passed away in 2002. He continued to live on the family farm until his death in July of 2003 at the age of 88. He is survived by one son, Larry, who created the Nelson H. Hall Agricultural Achievement Foundation.
The foundation was created in Hall’s memory to recognize and honor graduating agricultural education students, and members of the Washington FFA Chapter, who demonstrate great interest, zeal, and focus for participating in an agricultural career.