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DOBIE HALL OF HONOR: Six Alums Among Eight to be Inducted Friday Night

DOBIE HALL OF HONOR: Six Alums Among Eight to be Inducted Friday Night
Posted on 01/03/2015
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Selected for induction this year in the Dobie Hall of Honor are (top row) Bob Mitchell, Class of 1973; Leonard Cherry, Class of 1974; Randy McEachern, Class of 1974; Kevin Sherrington, Class of 1974; (bottom row) Judge Reed O'Connor, Class of 1983; Kyle "Pete" Wells, Class of 1979; the late Catherine Haney, faculty honoree; and community volunteer Marie Flickinger, publisher of the South Belt-Ellington Leader.
billFour graduates from J. Frank Dobie High School’s formative years are among eight individuals selected for induction this Friday night in the school’s Hall of Honor.

The inductee list includes one former faculty member, long-time history teacher Catherine Haney; and one community volunteer, Marie Flickinger, publisher of the South Belt-Ellington Leader, a staunch supporter of Dobie activities since Flickinger co-founded the newspaper nearly four decades ago.

Haney, who taught at Dobie for 34 years, passed away last October.

Among the five Longhorn alumni selected for induction are three members of the Class of 1974: Leonard Cherry, president of a demolition and recycling company that bears his name; Randy McEachern, who quarterbacked the Texas Longhorns to the Southwest Conference title in 1977; and Kevin Sherrington, long-time sports writer for the Dallas Morning News and one of the nation’s most respected sports columnists.

Also chosen for induction are Bob Mitchell, Class of 1973, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership; and the Hon. Reed O’Connor, Class of 1983, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

A sixth Dobie graduate, Kyle “Pete” Wells, Class of 1979, will be inducted among the Hall of Honor’s “Fallen Heroes,” a section of the Hall of Honor display reserved for military personnel and civilian first-responders who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Wells was one of 12 Air Force servicemen killed in a plane crash off the coast of the Philippines in 1981.

The ceremony to honor the eight new inductees will be held this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Dobie auditorium. A reception in the school cafeteria will follow.

The new inductees bring to 30 the number of alumni, former faculty members and community volunteers to be selected for the Hall of Honor since it was unveiled in 2013.

Haney will join two previous faculty Hall of Honor members: the late Scott Talton, who coached the Longhorns to 500 victories as head basketball coach over three decades, and Richard Golenko, who teamed up with Haney to coach Dobie to the national championship in Academic Decathlon in 1992.

Flickinger will become the fourth community volunteer to be inducted in the Hall of Honor. Inducted previously were the Rev. Emory Gadd, associate pastor and longtime youth counselor at Sagemont Church; Gilbert Aguilar, a volunteer aide and mentor at the school; and Ron Williams, Class of 1971, CEO of Central Ace Hardware and a longtime supporter of Dobie activities.

A look at each of the seven new inductees:

BOB MITCHELL / Class of 1973

A well-known figure in South Belt business and youth sports circles for many years, Bob Mitchell now ranks as a leader in economic development on a regional and national scope through his position as president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP).

Mitchell joined BAHEP in 2000 to oversee the statewide implementation of the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program. Due to his leadership and highly successful program management, he was increasingly asked in 2006 to represent the BAHEP president in many initiatives and social functions. In 2007 he was assigned responsibility BAHEP’s day-to-day operations, and, in the fall of that year, was named president-elect of the organization. He assumed the presidency on Jan. 1, 2008.

BAHEP is a member-driven organization which includes 265 businesses and government entities, including NASA Johnson Space Center, Harris and Galveston counties, the Houston Airport System, the Port of Houston Authority and 14 cities within the Bay Area Houston Region.

Mitchell has extensive experience both in economic development and manufacturing management. He spent more than two decades as a highly successful executive in both for profit and not-for-profit enterprises in the Houston region and has consistently demonstrated his ability to develop, manage and implement a strategic plan for international companies.

Key elements of his work experience were gained during 15 years at Grumman Aerospace Corporation. As an executive, he directed all production, engineering and material operations for the Houston facility of this Fortune 500 company. Mitchell’s background also includes serving as vice president and general manager for two international subsea companies, Unitech and ASEP.

Mitchell believes in giving back to the community and has actively donated his time in numerous capacities. Recognizing his work and partnerships on behalf of NASA Johnson Space Center, its many contractor companies and the Houston Airport System, Gov. Rick Perry appointed Mitchell to his Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee.

Mitchell and his wife, the former Brenda Moreno, Class of 1974, have three grown sons, all Dobie graduates.  Mitchell’s involvement on South Belt sports was highlighted by his involvement as coach of all-star championship teams in the Sagemont-Beverly Hills Little League. He later served as president of the Dobie Diamond Club, the school’s baseball booster club. 

LEONARD CHERRY / Class of 1974

What goes up, must come down – and no one knows that better than Leonard Cherry, the head of one of the nation’s most prominent recycling and demolition companies.

Cherry serves as president of Cherry Companies, a firm started by his father, Carl Cherry, 64 years ago. What began as a house-moving business has since, under Cherry’s leadership, expanded to include large-scale demolition work and construction waste recycling. The company now employs more than 250 people and produces annual revenue of more than $125 million.

The firm’s demolition projects have included the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the Methodist Hospital Favrot Towers, Macy’s in Houston, the Astrodome ramp towers and the Grand Casino in Biloxi, Miss. Still, the company has developed equal stature for its recycling efforts and services, most of which involve concrete and asphalt waste from demolition projects.

Cherry got his start working for his father -- tearing down houses by hand to claim the wood as a recycled product. After serving as a member of the Houston Fire Department, Cherry, along with his three brothers, rejoined the family business and guided the firm to new frontiers of financial success. He also introduced the recycling of concrete, steel, asphalt, tires and shingles, as well as, providing stabilized materials for new construction projects. The recycling divisions of the company now exceed that of the demolition in work and profit.

Cherry is a past member of the board of directors of the Houston Contractors Association. He also served as president of the National Demolition Association. In 2009, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year (Construction and Industrial Services) by the Ernst & Young accounting firm and is currently serving his second term on the board of directors for the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA). 

RANDY McEACHERN / Class of 1974

Dobie’s first sports hero turned out to be far more than just a neighborhood phenom. Randy McEachern, who led the Longhorns out of sports obscurity with a district title in just their fifth season of varsity play, did much the same while quarterbacking the Texas Longhorns during one of the most fabled seasons in UT history.

McEachern was an unknown fourth-string quarterback for UT until one day in 1977 when he shot to national sports prominence in one of the most famous games in UT history. The Longhorns were set to play Oklahoma in a battle of undefeated teams. The Longhorns had not beaten OU in six previous meetings. UT’s top quarterback was hurt going into the game and the first two backups were both injured early in the contest.

McEachern, a spindly-built junior who wasn’t even on the depth chart, came in and led UT to a stunning 13-6 victory. He remained at the helm as the Longhorns continued unbeaten through the regular season and as his backfield mate, Earl Campbell, stormed to the Heisman Trophy.

McEachern was voted a team captain his senior year and helped lead UT to a Sun Bowl victory over Maryland. He still holds several UT passing records, including co-ownership of the school mark for touchdown passes in a game – four – a record originally set by Clyde Littlefield 62 years earlier.

He was later inducted into Longhorn Hall of Honor and this spring will be inducted into the Pasadena ISD Athletics Hall of Fame.

It was McEachern who first put Dobie on the Houston-area sports map. He led the Longhorns to the 1973 district football title, the school’s first significant achievement in athletics. He was named the district’s offensive MVP and also Mr. J. Frank Dobie.

He graduated from UT with a finance degree and became a partner in an investment company which was later sold to Morgan Keegan and then to Raymond James, now the umbrella firm for his bond management endeavors. He and wife Jenna, a former UT cheerleader, are members of the UT Chancellor’s Council. 

KEVIN SHERRINGTON / Class of 1974

One of the nation’s premier sports journalists, Kevin Sherrington has served as sports columnist for the Dallas Morning News since 2000. A Morning News sports writer since 1985, Sherrington has been a primary contributor to a star-studded staff regarded as of the best in the country. The Morning News sports section has earned Top 10 national honors each of the past 32 years.

Sherrington, a 1979 University of Houston graduate, worked at the Pasadena Citizen, the Galveston Daily News, the Beaumont Enterprise and the Houston Post before joining the Morning News.

He is currently one-third of a columnist lineup that also includes nationally known commentators Tim Cowlishaw and Rick Gosselin. Sherrington has covered a wide range of events, including eight Olympics, six Super Bowls, five World Series, two Masters, seven college football title games, two heavyweight championship boxing matches, the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the World Cup, two Stanley Cup Finals, two NBA finals and 24 Texas-OU games.

Sherrington has had his work published in Best American Sports Writing and Best American Newspaper Writing. He has twice been named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the U.S. He has won numerous national awards for columns, feature writing and enterprise reporting.

He was twice voted Texas Sportswriter of the Year by his peers. He is the recipient of three Texas Headliner Awards, three Dallas Press Club awards and numerous local, state and regional awards. Sherrington is also well-known for his commentary on radio and TV, most notably on Fox Sports Southwest. 

REED O’CONNOR / Class of 1983

Since 2007, the Hon. Reed O’Connor has served as a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate that same year.

O’Connor received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Houston in 1986 and his J.D. in 1989 from the South Texas College of Law, where he finished second in his class and was a member of the South Texas Law Review. In between those two degrees, he taught middle school in Sugar Land.

He worked in private practice for Vinson & Elkins from 1989 to 1994, when he was hired as an assistant district attorney for Tarrant County. From 1998 to 2003, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District in the Fort Worth Division.

From 2003 to 2007, O’Connor worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, advising Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, then chairman of the committee, on various criminal and constitutional policy issues.

The Department of Justice detailed O’Connor again in 2005 to serve as chief counsel to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, where he served as chief counsel to Texas Sen. Cornyn. 

KYLE WELLS / Class of 1979

Airman First Class Kyle “Pete” Wells was killed, along with 22 other military members from three countries, on Feb. 26, 1981, in the crash of an Air Force transport plane off the coast of the Philippines.

 The crash claimed the lives of 12 Air Force personnel, four Army service members and six military personnel from Australia and the Philippines. One Air Force serviceman survived the crash.

The C-130 was on a mission to transport a multinational Special Forces team from Naval Air Station Cubi Point in the Philippines. An hour into the flight, the plane went down in Subic Bay, exploded in flames and sank in 250 feet of water.

Wells’s body was not recovered. A memorial marker bearing his name is located at Houston National Cemetery. 

CATHERINE HANEY / Faculty

Cathy Haney loved history. And during her 34-year association with Dobie, she didn’t just teach it. She made it.

Haney joined the Dobie faculty in 1970, the school’s third year of existence. She retired in 2004 as one of the school’s most revered teachers. Indeed, her “learning lab” extended all the way to the Rose Garden of the White House, where, in 1992, Haney and the Academic Decathlon team she helped coach were greeted by President George H.W. Bush after winning the first of Dobie’s two Academic Decathlon national championships.

She served as head of Dobie’s Social Studies Department from 1978 until her retirement. Over that span, Haney supervised 82 different teachers and taught on two Dobie campuses. A member of the Architectural Committee for the “new” Dobie, she delayed retirement for a year to allow her to teach on the campus she helped design.

At the old Dobie campus, she represented a kind of academic superstructure that brought distinction and honor to the school and the community.

Haney organized and moderated the annual faculty-student Prep Bowl match. She co-sponsored the Academic Quiz Bowl and the Texaco Star Academic Challenge. Moreover, she coached the Longhorns’ Academic Decathlon team for nine years. In 1992, co-coaching with Richard Golenko, she helped guide Dobie to the national title.

She stepped down from the Academic Decathlon after 1992 but continued to help tutor team members until her retirement from teaching. Golenko, who coached the Longhorns to another national title in 1996, was inducted into the Dobie Hall of Honor two years ago.

Even after her retirement, Haney remained deeply involved in Dobie-related activities. She helped organize the Trailmixers, a group of former Dobie administrators, teachers and staff members who meet each month for lunch. She compiled and distributed a monthly newsletter for the group. She was a driving force behind Pasadena Area Retired School Employees (PARSE) projects.

The news of her passing on Oct. 22, 2014, was met with great sadness by hundreds of her former students and colleagues across the Pasadena ISD.

A San Antonio native, Haney earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964 and her master’s degree in history from the University of Houston in 1993. She taught at South Houston Intermediate and Miller Intermediate before joining the Dobie staff in 1970. ​

MARIE FLICKINGER / Community Volunteer

It’s difficult to image what campus life at Dobie would be like without the South Belt-Ellington Leader – and without the efforts of the newspaper’s founder and publisher, Marie Flickinger.

In 1976, eight years after Dobie opened, Flickinger teamed up with neighbor Bobby Griffin to launch what was then the South Belt Press, a publication that gave the local community its name and would soon provide Dobie – and its feeder campuses -- a public voice unique among Pasadena ISD high schools.

Dobie’s many achievements in athletics and academics, student organization news –the comings and goings, the highs and lows, the cheers and the tears – have been dutifully recorded and promoted in the pages of the Leader over a period that now spans nearly 40 graduating classes.

Although her two sons have long since graduated from the school, Flickinger’s interest in all-things-Dobie has never waned. Indeed, her concern for quality education led her, in 1995, to seek a seat on the Board of Trustees for San Jacinto College. She became the first woman elected to the board and later served as board president. This year will mark the start of her third decade as a trustee.

The Marie Spence Flickinger Fine Arts Building on San Jacinto College South is named in her honor.

Flickinger’s role in the development of the South Belt area is unrivaled. She has championed numerous causes, including waste contamination that led to remedial action at the Brio Superfund Site and drainage issues that had led to severe flooding issues in many South Belt neighborhoods.

Through her newspaper -- and her graphics and printing business -- she has coordinated Christmas drives for needy families and taken the lead in organizing annual Fourth of July activities, including an annual parade and fireworks display.

She served as founding president of the South Belt-Ellington Chamber of Commerce. Twice she was selected to participate on mayoral transition committees for the City of Houston. She has served on the numerous superintendent advisory boards and search committees for the Pasadena ISD. She is a recipient of the Rotary Club’s prestigious Paul Harris Award.

Flickinger has also maintained a high profile at the state level. A past chair of the Community College Association of Texas Board of Trustees, she currently serves as chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Community and Technical College Leadership Council.  

In 2013, Flickinger earned the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award as the national community college trustee of the year.