On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Connors State College hosted its annual Alumni and Friends Banquet and Reunion. More than 75 alumni, friends, staff and students attended the event in the A.D. Stone Student Union on the Warner Campus.
The reunion is a time to share memories, see new developments on campus, and to honor exceptional alumni, said Dr. Ryan Blanton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs.
Each year at the Banquet and Reunion, extraordinary alumni are inducted into the Connors State College Alumni Hall of Fame. Jim Hamric and Jerry Whitlock were the 2017 honorees.
Jim Hamric, a football recruit of coach Harold Cagle, attended Connors State College in 1965-1967 and was selected to the All-Conference Team after the 1966 season. Hamric, a native of Spencer, West Virginia, graduated from Northeastern State University in 1969 with a degree in education.
In college, Hamric was a student of Oklahoma high school and college athletics, beginning with observations of the interaction and camaraderie of his Connors coaches.
Ater graduation, Hamric returned to West Virginia and immediately entered the high school coaching arena. During a 29-year-career, Hamric coached football, wrestling, track, cross country, basketball, baseball and served as Athletic Director. In 1992, he was selected as West Virginia High School Coach of the Year.
Early in Hamrics career, he led a movement to improve the West Virginia High School Coaches Association as well as the West Virginia High School Directors Association, to mirror the programs he observed while in Oklahoma. Inspired by the Oklahoma programs, Hamrics leadership changed the West Virginia programs into noted national programs.
Jerry Whitlock founded Whitlock Packaging after acquiring a closed and insolvent juice manufacturer in 1979. Through creative strategic partnering, Whitlock become the largest contract manufacturer of branded non-carbonated beverages in North America. Whitlock Packaging Corporation was twice the size of its nearest competitor.
Being a true believer in giving back to the community, Whitlock donated the Whitlock Sports Complex in Fort Gibson. At the grand opening, 1,200 children took the field. Other land donations were made to three Oklahoma towns, including monetary donations to numerous organizations such as civic clubs, churches, school educational programs and disaster relief assistance. Whitlock also donated the Whitlock Guest House in Muskogee, OK to Women in Safe Homes (WISH), a non-profit organization. Whitlock Wishhouse today is used as a fundraising vehicle. All money collected supports the WISH shelters to house and support battered women, children and their recovery.
Other prominent alumni and friends also attended to support the inductees, catch up with old acquaintances, and to meet with college leaders, faculty and students. Students from the Presidents Leadership Class provided tours of campus and reminded alumni of one of the most important reasons for their organization to raise money for the Alumni and Friends Scholarship Fund.
The official opening of the Ken Ogdon Connors State College Museum in the north wing of Russell Hall highlighted this years reunion. The museum, curated by Dr. Ryan Blanton and Stacy Pearce, through the generosity of the Ogdon family, features historical displays of Connors State throughout the past 109 years.
In addition to the Museum, Russell Hall, which opened in summer 2016, is also the home of the Native American Success and Cultural Center.
For more information about the inductees and the rich history of Connors State College, visit www.connorsgiving.com.