SCHS Hall of Fame welcomes Fonke, Shultie and Floyd

GEORGETOWN — Sussex Central High School’s Hall of Fame enshrined its three newest inductees Friday morning in ceremonies laced with congratulations, thanks, powerful will to overcome adversity, emotion and some sadness.

Phil Shultie, the winningest wrestling coach in Delaware history, Dr. Victoria Godwin Fonke, who overcame childhood tragedies to become part of a successful chiropractic business, and Sgt. Steven R. Floyd Sr., a corrections officer killed in the Feb. 2, 2017 hostage standoff at a Delaware prison in Smyrna, were inducted before an audience of family, friends, school staff, administration and students.

From left, Sussex Central High School 2017 Hall of Fame inductees Dr. Victoria Godwin Fonke and Phil Shultie, and Shavaughn Felder, who accepted the induction of behalf of her brother Steven R. Floyd Sr.

State tributes were presented to the three inductees by State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn and Rep. Steve Smyk accompanied by Rep. Rich Collins.

“It is truly an honor to stand here with all of you great people today. I am standing here before you today because my brother, Stephen R. Floyd Sr., chose to live; he walked those prison halls for 16 years doing what he loved best, talking to people and putting other’s needs before for his own,” said Shavaughn Floyd Felder of her brother. “He did the ultimate, and that was to lay down his life for others without question. We don’t have a magic wand or a crystal ball that tells us how our life is going to go. We just wake up each day to the unknown, so we have to make the best of each day.”

Mr. Shultie coached Sussex Central wrestling for 41 years, from 1976 to 2017. He amassed 434 dual meet victories, more than any coach in Delaware history. His Golden Knight teams won two state championships (2008 and 2017) and 28 of his wrestlers won a total of 38 individual state titles.

Phil Shultie, center, and two of his former wrestlers, Shane Miller and Bill Baxter, share a laugh at the Hall of Fame reception.

 

“You guys are the reason that I coached for so many years,” said Mr. Shultie, recognizing the many former SCHS wrestlers in attendance. “It was a very enjoyable time to coach great athletes.”

Mr. Shultie was presented for induction by his son Brandon, who offered a kidding twist. “Quite a lot of accomplishments I would say, but I really don’t think that is why you are nominated here today,” Brandon said. “Let’s be honest; 41 years, only two state titles … not that impressive.”

Seriously, Brandon said during these 41 years his dad accomplished a lot and earned numerous awards and honors. “One of the ones he’s most proud of happened in February 2017 when he was nominated as the honorary special education ambassador for the Indian River School District,” Brandon said.

In addition to accomplishments in wrestling, Brandon said his father was nominated because of the impact he had on young people and the community.

“Some of these kids didn’t have a home life. He gave them a home life. He was a father figure to them,” Brandon said. “It’s not all about the wins but the impact he has had on this community.”

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, prior to presenting the tribute, said Coach Shultie “brought out the greatness they had inside of them.”

Dr. Fonke, a 1976 SCHS graduate, shared her trying times as a youth.

“I started school at Georgetown Elementary in 1964, exactly one week after my mother put a bullet in her heart in the parking lot of our church,” said Dr. Fonke. “That year I learned a lot more than my ABC’s or what 2 plus 2 equaled. I learned what I had and what I didn’t have.”

“Kids talked about their brothers and their sisters and their mom and their dad. No brothers or sisters at my house. Mom was gone, and I had no clue who my father was,” Dr. Fonke sad. “But all of that never really bothered me because I had a grandmother who loved me. At the ripe old age of five, that is all I really wanted, until one day in September of 1970. I had just entered seventh grade. I came home from school and there were four cars in the yard. I was scared to walk in. They told me my grandmother was gone. I never felt more alone. My grandmother had always told me I could be and do anything I set my mind to. So, at the ripe old age of 11, I decided all I needed was a plan.”

Dr. Fonke became a ward of the state through the foster care system.

“My senior year at Sussex Central my foster father was James Marvel, my high school principal. One Friday night I got caught drinking at a school dance and they threw the book at me,” Dr. Fonke said. “I remember Mr. Marvel’s disappointment. He looked me square in the eye and said, ‘You can be and do anything you put your mind to.’ At the ripe age of 17, I decided all I had to do is be and do the right thing. I went off to college not to find myself but to create myself.”

Sussex Central Hall of Fame inductees, presenters and stage dignitaries listen to acceptance speech of Shavaughn Felder on behalf of her brother, the late Steven R. Floyd Sr. From left in front, Sussex Central High School Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield, Sabrina (Godwin) Knight, Dr. Victoria (Godwin) Fonke, Brandon Shultie and Phil Shultie. In back, SCHS Hall of Fame Committee member Jim Hudson, Indian River School District Superintendent Mark Steele, State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, State Rep. Steve Smyk and State Rep. Rich Collins.

Today, she has a family chiropractic business in High Point, N.C.

“The five of us go to the office and help hundreds of patients. Then every night we get to go home to four dogs, four cats, two llamas, two donkeys, two cows and a mini-horse with Napoleon complex,” said Dr. Fonke, who was presented by her cousin, Sabrina Knight. “Life is absolutely fantastic.”

“Vicki has proven time and again what it means to overcome adverse circumstances and devastating hardships,” said Ms. Knight. “Vicki, she moves mountains. She makes thing happen.”

“You didn’t let your circumstances write your story,” said Sen. Pettyjohn. “You wrote your own story. And you didn’t use what happened to you in the past as an excuse.”

Ms. Felder spoke of her brother’s passion for life and helping others less fortunate.

“Love has always been a secret recipe for Steve’s life. He just loved sharing wisdom and experience with those that were willing to listen to some good sound advice. So, always remember to cherish your loved ones. Don’t allow the sun to go down with a heavy heart,” said Ms. Felder. “He is our hero, not because of his sacrifice but because he set a great example for us to follow in every aspect of our lives. He didn’t leave here with any regrets. He laughed often. He had an infectious smile that would light up any room. He always knew how to have a good time. The chain of stories will go on and on, never ending just like his legacy will never end because we will tell our children’s children all about him.”

Sussex Central’s Renaissance Singers perform at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Ms. Felder added, “Remember to always live, love and laugh. Although he was only 47, which is considered fairly young, he had old soul. And for the younger generation that just specifically means that he was wise for his age. He truly lived a fulfilling life.”

Said Rep. Smyk of Sgt. Floyd, a 1987 SCHS grad, “He went to work every day from the comfort of his home, from the love of his family. That is strength. It hurts to give this award, but it’s full of our hearts.”

Sussex Central Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield was hopeful SCHS students invited to attend the ceremonies were listening attentively.

“I hope that they pay close attention to your stories of commitment and use that inspiration,” said Dr. Layfield. “Many years from now I would be honored to come back here on this very stage and see you telling your stories to future generations of students about the greatness you have achieved and service that you provided to your communities.”

Dr. Layfield also announced the official formation and launching of the Sussex Central High School Alumni Association, which will assume responsibility of the school’s Hall of Fame moving forward.

SUSSEX CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

Class 0f 2017

Dr. Victoria Godwin Fonke (Class of 1976), Phil Shultie (1971), Steven Floyd Sr. (1987).

Class of 2016

Asher Gulab (1988), Paul Eckrich (1978), John Powell (1991).

Class of 2015

Rep. Ruth Briggs King (1974), Russell McCabe (1974), Cathy Unruh (1975), Deon Jackson (1993), Markishia Wise (1995).

Class of 2014

Dr. David Carter (1997), James Hudson (1971), Todd Lawson (1993), Dr. Aimee Parker (1999), Dr. Loriann White * (1985),

Class of 2013     

Carlos Barbosa (1985), Robert Ruffin (1988), Chad Spicer (1998), Deborah Windett (1972).

Class of 2002

Mark Murray (1980).

Class of 2000

William Baxter (1970), Phillip Tonge (1972).

Class of 1998

Cathy Hudson Gorman (1972), Terry Megee (1974), Grier White (1971).

Class of 1996

Neal Hitchens (1975), John Young (1983).

Class of 1995

Charles Hudson (1971), Julie Ann Gregg McCade (1974).

Class of 1994

Kenneth Clark, Jr. (1994), Alan Ellingsworth (1972), Ivan Neal (1978).

Class of 1993

Barbara Jackson (1971), Ralph Richardson, III (1970),

Class of 1992

Mike DeLeon (1980), Kevin Short (1983).

Class of 1991

Cheryl Hedtke (1980), Lynda Johnson (1970), Ileana Smith (1970).

Class of 1990

Joseph Booth (1976), Bruce Rogers (1979).

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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