During the Homecoming Banquet in October, there was one table of attendees that could boast more than a century of teaching experience.
Clifton Ray (’69, ’76) returned to campus to see Sam Nugent inducted into the Truman Athletics Hall of Fame. Nugent served in the roles of head baseball coach, head football athletic trainer and assistant athletics director for 34 years at the University.
Ray, a previous inductee into the Hall of Fame, is also a member of Truman’s All-Century Football Team. After his playing days, he spent a total of 38 years in education, first as a teacher and coach in the St. Louis Public School District, and later 14 years as an administrator in several high schools. When preparing to return to Kirksville, he made sure five other alumni made the trip too, including four whom he worked with in the district and another one from Iowa. Ray is the main man responsible for keeping together a group of friends who attended the University in the 1960s and ’70s.
“I talk on the phone to those out of town, and those in town—we run into each other a lot,” Ray said.
Among those alumni Ray coaxed into returning were fellow Hall of Famers George Simmons, Sharron Washington and Wayne Clinton. Each man has gone on to a distinguished career in public education. Simmons (’71) spent more than 30 years as a teacher and coach in the St. Louis Public School District, as did Washington (’68, ’76), who also worked in the Kirkwood and Pattonville school districts. Clinton was the odd man out in the group, having spent his entire career in Iowa where he taught for 34 years and coached multiple sports on the high school and junior high school levels.
Fellow attendees Leroy Bonner (’74) and Alvin Smith (’71, ’76) also worked in the St. Louis Public School District. Bonner spent more than 30 years teaching and coaching in the district. The crowning achievement of Smith’s 34-year career was the 11-year run he had as the principal of Normandy High School.
For some men in the group it had been years since they visited campus. Ray’s last trip was in 2009, but he plans to return more frequently.
“I enjoyed the dinner and the whole weekend,” he said. “I will be back next year, if God wills.”