By Brenden West
CLINTON — When Gary Lueders signed on to be Clinton High School athletic director, one major vision was to establish a sports hall of fame.
On Friday, that vision was realized on one of the biggest River King nights in recent memory. Clinton unveiled its new football stadium to a packed home crowd on the first night of the football season.
Fourteen people were honored: Hank Dihlman, Richard Farwell, Bill Holstrom, Bill Holsclaw, Howard Judd, Dan Knight, Bob Lueders, Max Lynn, Gary Morris, Carl Nelson, Kenny Ploen, Dan Roushar, Duke Slater and Chuck Vogt all made up the inaugural Clinton High Hall of Fame.
"This is something I've been thinking about for a long long time," Gary Lueders said. "This really tied everything together."
KROS play-by-lay man Gary Determan was on hand to induct the first class, running through long lists of athletic or contributory accomplishments to the school. Dihlman, Farwell, Holsclaw, Knight and Morris were all on hand to accept plaques from Gary Lueders. Others were represented by family members.
Slater, one of the first black football players at CHS and a college All-American, died in 1966. He was represented by his niece, Sandra Hoskins Wilkins, who traveled from Fayetteville, Ga. to accept Slater's induction.
"He would be very proud," Wilkins said. "He felt very strongly about his high school experience. He felt that this high school gave him the academic skills, the leadership skills and the sports skills he needed to succeed later in life."
Like the other inductees, Slater was successful after his time at Clinton High. He had a stellar career in the 1920s for the University of Iowa and went on to become the first African-American to ascend to the Superior Court.
Slater's accomplishments also landed him an induction to the Hawkeyes' ring of honor ceremony today at Kinnick Stadium. Wilkins said she is traveling back to her home and will not be attending.
"I had to do this for Uncle Duke," she said. "He received many honors in his lifetime, but I think it's needed now for African-American and NFL players to know the impact he made on the game."
Wilkins wasn't the only one traveling across the country. Gary Morris, 1950s swimming All-American, traveled from his home in Florida to attend the ceremony.
Dan Knight only lives 45 minutes away in Bettendorf. He was the youngest athlete inducted, honored for his 128-0 run in 1980s wrestling. Now the head wrestling coach at Bettendorf, Knight said he got most joy out of touring the new facilities.
"It's always good to come back home," Knight said. "I don't know if there's a better place than Clinton, Iowa. It's neat to be in this first class... The people just have to be in awe of this field. It's beautiful."
To open the fall season in such memorable fashion was the highlight for Lueders. He said it was a real treat for fans and that it was great for students to see the great Clinton alums.
"Our kids didn't know much about Duke, or Farwell or Kenny Ploen," Lueders said. "It's important because this is the legacy, the legacy of the River Kings."
Lueders thanked his committee for all the work it's put in coordinating the Hall of Fame events. The ceremony coincided with this weekend's Clinton High All Class Reunion.
Athlete Hall of Fame inductions will continue again next year.