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SHS Alumni names first class of Athletic Hall of Fame; gives scholarships

By Staff | Jul 1, 2016

It was a good night for coaches at the 64th annual Shepherdstown High School Alumni banquet. Retired Hedgesville High School basketball coach Gilbert Miller received the Mary Hartzell Dobbins Outstanding Alumnus Award, and five former Shepherdstown High coaches were the first inductees into the newly-formed Athletic Hall of Fame.

More than 260 graduates and guests attended the June 4 banquet, which honored members of classes that graduated in years ending in 1 and 6. The best represented class was 1966, the 50-year honor class, with 24 of the 49 graduates in attendance. Alumni who had died during the past year were remembered during the Moment of Memory. In addition, the association honored its five scholarship recipients.

Alumnus of the Year Miller is a 1943 graduate of Shepherdstown High School. He played basebll, basketball and football at SHS and also served as senior class president. Miller played varsity baseball and basketball at Shepherd College; and after graduation, he signed a contract with the Philadelphia Athletics. An injury prematurely ended his professional career and in 1956, he began a long and distinguished career as a coach, teacher and administrator at Hedgesville High School. He coahed baseball for 15 years and basketball for 14 years and his teams never had a losing season. He led the 1970 Hedgesville basketball team to the West Virginia Class A State Championship.

Miller was honored as West Virginia Athletic Director of the Year in 1987 and retired in 1989. In 1998, he was inducted into the Shepherd University Athletic Hall of Fame in in 2013, he was a member of the inaugural class of the Hedgesville High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The gymnasium at Hedgesville was named the Gilbert Miller Center in his honor.

In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Miller has been an active member of the community. He was a member of the Berkeley 2000 Foundation, a past president of the Martinsburg Rotary Club and a past member of the Business Development committee for CNB. Until recently, he co-hosted a Saturday morning radio show on WEPM.

The Athletic Hall of Fame committee, chaired by SHS Executive Committee board member Allen Mahoney, selected the first class of inductees. In the future, Mahoney said, the committee will accept nominations from SHS alumni. As a result, all of the inductees this year were former coaches: Cletus Lowe, Mary Hartzell Dobbins, Kenny Rentch, Charles W. Osbourn and Jimmy Kessel.

A graduate of Shepherd College where he played three sports, Lowe was the very first coach at the new Shepherdstown High School in 1929. He initially coached football and basketball and in 1938, he coached the school’s first baseball team. He moved to Shepherd as athletic director and coach in 1940 and remained there until his retirement in 1964. He received the Shepherd College Outstanding Alumnus award in 1976 and was inducted into the Shepherd College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.

Dobbins graduated from Shepherd College and received a master’s degree from Columbia University. She began her teaching career at Shepherdstown High School in 1932 and remained at the school until her retirement from Shepehrdstown Junior High in 1976. While she is best known as a teacher and fro the role she played in establishing the Alumni Associa-tion, Dobbins also coached the girl’s basketball team from 1933-42. She led the team to several county championships. She was the first SHS Outstanding Alumnus in 1988 and the annual award is named for her.

A graduate of Concord College, Rentch began his coaching career as an assistant football coach at his alma mater Martinsburg High School. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he joined the faculty of Shepherdstown High School in 1946. He coached all sports until 1855, when he moved to South Hagerstown High School. There, he won more than 70 percent of the games he coached.

Known to everyone as “Coach,” Osbourn ia a graduate of Shepherdstown High School. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he graduated from Shepherd College. He joined the staff at SHS in 1956, coaching four sports, including football and track and field. His teams won many regional track and field championships and several members captured individual state track titles.

Osbourn remained at the school after it became a junior high and he retired in 1984. In recognition of his 24 years as football coach, the football field at Shepherdstown Middle School was named in his honor in 1995. He received the Man of Distinction Award in 2013 for his extraordinary contributions to the community.

The final inductee, Kessel graduated from Petersburg High, where he was a star quarterback and baseball playr. He is a member of the Petersburg Athletic Hall of Fame. After an injury-abbreviated tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates and a four-year stint in the Air Force, Kessel graduated from Shepherd College in 1962. He coached at Shepherdstown High from 1962-72, and then moved to the consolidated Jefferson High School as football coach. He retired from Washington High School in 2008. Kessel’s greatest accomplishment at Shepherdstown High was leading the 1970 baseball team to the WV State Championship against much larger schools.

The Alumni Association annually awards competitive scholarships to students who have a relative who attended secondary school in Shepherdstown or who themselves attended Shepherdstown Middle School. This year, four graduating seniors and one current college student received awards: Hannah French, Noah French, Dmitri Hunter, Serean McDonald-Newman and Aaron Renner.

Hannah French received the John D. Lowe, Jr. Scholarship, the only award designated for a current college student. Several family members attended SHS and her father attended SJHS. A student at Shepherd University, she is a member of the honors program, a recipient of the Shepherd University Education Department scholarship and is a Shepherd University Foundation Scholar. She plans to become a middle school math teacher.

Noah French, a 2016 graduate of Jefferson High School, received a SHS Alumni General Fund Scholarship. Several family members attended SHS and his father attended SJHS. He was a member of the marching band, jazz band, drumline and symphonic band, as well as the swim team and tennis team. A 10-year member of 4-H, he plans to attend Shepherd University and study nursing.

Hunter is a 2016 graduate of Jefferson High, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, marching band, jazz ensemble, symphonic band and the track team. His grandparents are SHS alumni and his father attended SJHS. He plans to attend West Virginia University to study zoology and music composition. He received an Ida Elizabeth Hodges Hendricks Scholarship.

McDonald-Newman attended Shepherdstown Middle School and graduated from Jefferson High this year. Among other accomplishments, she worked for Jefferson County Teen Court and founded the English Language Learners Tutoring program. She was the captain of the girls’ soccer team and a member of the Spanish Honor Society. She plans to attend Mount Holyoke College and study environmental science and international relations. She received a SHS Alumni General Fund Scholarship.

Renner is a 2016 graduate of Washington High School. His father attended SJHS. Renner is an Eagle Scout, a lifeguard, a volunteer at the 4-H hot dog stand at the Jefferson County Fair and a member of the Washington High School FFA. He plans to study computer engineering at WVU. He received an Ida Elizabeth Hodges Hendricks Scholarship.

As always, the banquet ended with a rousing rendition of the Shepherdstown High School Song.