People who built Carthage and people from Carthage who thrilled us on fields of athletics, stage or science were honored on Friday as 24 members of the first class of the Hall of Carthage Heroes was inducted on Friday.
The Hall is housed in the halls of the Fair Acres Family Y and that’s where the first induction ceremony was held, with two of three living inductees on hand to receive a plaque and accolades.
Bill Samuels, Pittsburg, Kan., an athlete and educator who graduated from Carthage High School in 1954, was one of the two living inductees at the ceremony.
Samuels was born in Carthage in 1936 and, according to his induction statement, “was an exceptional multi-sport athlete for Carthage High School.”
After Friday’s ceremony, Samuels talked about being named to the first ever Hall of Heroes class.
“I’m humbled, of course I’m humbled, but I’m proud at the same time,” Samuels said. “Then when I found out who else was selected, I became that much more humble and more proud to be named with those people. It’s just great.”
Samuels said he’s lived away from Carthage for many years, but that hasn’t dimmed his love for his hometown.
“I have really fond memories of when I lived here in Carthage and this is kind of the icing on the cake of memories,” he said. “It’s just great.”
Toby Waters, who called Carthage home for 21 years and was an outstanding wrestler at Carthage High School, was the other living inductee able to attend.
Currently serving in the U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Waters credits his coach, Bob Holman, with pushing him to wrestle and making him the man he is today.
“Coach Holman, he saw me at a very young age,” Waters said. “He pulled my mom aside and said he’s too good, you need to get him in some more competitive events. That’s how my whole career started, he saw it at a young age and I love it.”
Waters said he too was grateful to be inducted.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’d like to start by thanking the committee and thanking my family, my dad. He took me around from city to city, town to town, state to state, just driving me around to matches. It’s amazing, I honestly never imagined anything like this and it means a lot to me.”
The family of the other living inductee, former Carthage High School and NFL football player Felix Wright, accepted his plaque, as did some families of the deceased inductees.
Page 2 of 2 - Bill Putnam said the original intention of the Hall of Carthage Heroes was to recognize those who built Carthage back in its formative years in the 1800s.
Many of the first class came from that group, including the Jasper County Sheriff at the time of the 1861 Battle of Carthage, Norris Hood; Major Charles Harrington, who started the first volunteer fire company in Carthage and served as mayor; Annie Baxter, the first woman to hold elective office in Missouri in 1890; Dr. Thomas McCune and Dr. Robert Brooks, who together provided the money in their wills for the city to build McCune-Brooks hospital; Gustav Cassil, who started the Bank of Carthage and build the Cassil Addition, some of which still stands on Central Avenue; Judge Malcolm Graeme McGregor, who worked to have Carthage incorporated as a town in 1868 and was elected as secretary of the first school board before being elected circuit judge in the 1880s; and pioneer businessman John A. Shirley, who led one of the earliest families to settle on the Carthage Square before the civil war and lost their home when it was burned by guerillas.
The first class includes the famous industrialists Joseph Palmer Leggett and Cornelius Baird Platt, who founded the company that still bears their name and employs thousands of Carthage and area residents and people around the world.
Richard Marlin Perkins, who was born in Carthage, graduated from Carthage High School and was destined for fame as a zoologist who directed zoos in St. Louis and Buffalo, N.Y. before hosting the pioneering wildlife show on television that became Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
Timothy Regan, who bought and donated the land that became Park Cemetery, was one of the first class of inductees, as was historian, journalist and decorated veteran Col. War Loren Schrantz, Ragtime composer James S. Scott; philanthropists and business owners the Steadley family; athlete Henry Walter Putnam Jr.; World War II fighter pilot and member of the famed Tuskegee Airman Col. Kenneth Wofford; inventor and manufacturer Harold Edward Williams; baseball player Carl Owen Hubbell; athlete Jack Taylor Crusa; and civic leader and business woman Emma Rosina Knell.