There is an old saying that goes “Home is where the heart is,” and for the first class of inductees to the Farmington Hall of Fame, Farmington High School will always be home.
On Sunday alumni spanning several generations gathered at Black Knight Fieldhouse for the inaugural induction and ribbon cutting ceremony.
“There are so many fine people here today,” said Angela Hahn, a member of the Hall of Fame selection board and a member of the district’s board of education. “The Hall of Fame is such a testimony to Farmington R-7.”
Sunday’s event recognized a diverse group of 19 Farmington graduates who challenged the world and made an impression as athletes, authors, aviators, educators, entrepreneurs and innovators … while never forgetting where they got their start.
“This is coming home,” said Dr. Edward Blaine, the first member of the inductee class. “I have been put in other (halls of fame) over the years, but this is home for me. Coming home and being acknowledged for your athletic past is truly wonderful.”
Blaine was a graduate of the class of 1958 where he excelled in both athletics and academics. After distinguishing himself as a scholar and an athlete at the University of Missouri, Blaine played professional football for the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
After his playing days, Blaine received his PhD in physiology from the University of Missouri and completed his post-doctoral work at Howard Florey Institute for Experimental Physiology and Medicine at the University of Melbourne.
Another honoree for the evening was Fred Bergsten, class of 1957, whose accomplishments include coordinating United States foreign policy from 1969 to 1971 at the White House under the tutelage of Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Bergsten would go on to represent his country at the G-7 summits. In addition, the Farmington grad would become the founding director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
“I have dealt with heads of states from around the world and worked for four different presidents,” Bergsten said. “I always remember my roots here in Farmington. It was great for me growing up and having the experiences from this part of the world.”
Of the 19 inductees honored at Sunday’s ceremony, seven of the recipients were present to receive their plaque and to speak about their time at FHS. One of the recipients, W. Patrick Gordon, told the audience how he couldn’t wait to leave Farmington. In fact, three days after graduation, he said he was off to serve in the Army.
Gordon was also the inductee who traveled the longest distance to be present at the ceremony, traveling from his home in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. For the last 37 years he has lived and worked in the Middle East as an aviator, safety officer, an adviser to Sheikh Hamdan Bin Murbarak Al Nahyan, who is a member of the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates, CEO of Royal Jet Airlines, and chairman of the Board of Royal Jet and minister of Higher Education.
“There was a long period of time where I hadn’t been back for many years. Now I come back every couple of years.” Gordon said. “So, to participate in something like this is quite an honor.”
For one Farmington family, Sunday’s induction ceremony was truly a family event as two brothers made the hall of fame.
Dan Giessing, class of 1957, was honored for his work in science, specifically nuclear safety, while William Giessing, class of 1959, was noted as an athlete.
“This is a very big honor for us,” said Dan. “We are very pleased to be here and be a part with all the other people as well, especially with my brother William.”
Once the induction ceremony was complete, the recipients, their families, friends, guests and notable members of the district were ushered into the Hall of Fame, which connects the school to the new fieldhouse.
The walls were filled with memorabilia such as Blaine’s high school football jersey.
But for most people, the most spellbinding item was the wallpaper that depicted the history of Farmington over the years. The wallpaper shows the iconic places that are no longer or have changed over the years. It pictures the students and educators who were part of the district’s past, but left an indelible mark on its history.
“The wallpaper really captures our history,” Hahn said. “It is the history of Farmington R-7. We are so pleased that we have been able to secure it for everyone else.”
In addition to the wallpaper, guests can use an interactive television to read about the remarkable achievements made by the district’s hall of fame members.
“I am excited that we have captured some important pieces of our history and have it on display in a location that our students, faculty and community will have access to during each event,” said Matt Ruble, the district’s superintendent. “It was a truly an amazing event and I appreciate all of those who came out to help us make history.”
Other inductees included Hap Haile; educator and coach; Ray Detring; athlete; Barney Pelty; athlete; Dayse Baker; educator; Herbert Asbury; author; W. L. Johns, educator; Dr. Charles Cozean, ophthalmologist; Dr. Roger “Pete” Mell, orthopedic surgeon; Al Shinn, athlete; Gene Bryant, educator; Wilson Overall, inventor/entrepreneur; Matt McCarthy, entrepreneur; and C.B. Denman, journalist, U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture, innovator.
For more details about the ceremony read Thursday’s edition of the Farmington Press.