Sussex Central Hall of Fame: 2015 inductees a class act

25 SCHS Hall of Fame 5 members maybe page 1 with cutline

Sussex Central High School’s Hall of Fame welcomed five inductees comprising the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Friday morning. From left, State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (SCHS Class of 1974), Russell McCabe (1974), Cathy Unruh (1975), Deon Jackson (1993) and Markishia Wise (1995).

GEORGETOWN – If audience attendance, applause and ovation is an accurate gauge, Sussex Central High School’s Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is definitely a class act.

Five new members – State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (1974 SCHS graduate), C. Russell McCabe (1974), Cathy Unruh (1975), Deon Jackson (1993) and Markishia Wise (1995) – were inducted Friday morning in ceremonies punctuated by stories of success, beating the odds, fond remembrances, tributes from state legislative representatives and moments of emotion.

This year’s honorees were chosen by the Hall of Fame Committee from more 25 nominations received in the spring.

Alumni are eligible for nomination five years after graduation.

Ruth Briggs King

Raised on a farm near Georgetown, Rep. Briggs King currently serves the Georgetown areas as the state representative for the 37th District in Delaware’s General Assembly. She is the CEO of the Sussex County Association of Realtors and has had other professional careers, including banking, medical and education.

“I am very honored as well as humbled to accept such recognition from the Sussex Central Hall of Fame. Today I am wearing my charm bracelet because in many ways I feel that I have led a very charmed life,” said Rep. Briggs King.

She attributed her charmed life to her high school sweetheart/husband Stanley King, brothers and sons.

“You see I am a strong and determined woman, not by accident, but by those men in my life,” Rep. Briggs King said.

Jane Brock introduced Rep. Briggs King, her longtime friend. “There is a saying: if you want something done give it to a busy person. That is what makes her such a great representative for this county and state and honoree, because of all of her achievements,” said Ms. Brock. “She has been there and she has done that.”

Rep. Briggs King said the education she received at Sussex Central and in the Indian River School District provided “a strong and solid base that ultimately resulted in my ability to grow and to have success.”

Rep. Briggs King reminded students in attendance that teamwork and happiness are keys to success.

“Success is not the key to happiness,” she said. “Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.”

Deon Jackson

Beating the odds, Deon Jackson’s story began in rural Sussex County and today is the life of luxury amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan, Wall Street and Citigroup.

“All of the statistics say the odds are Deon would not make it where he is today,” said Benny Mitchell, Mr. Jackson’s presenter – and Little League coach in Millsboro.

2 SCHS HALL deon jackson and kendrique nocks

Sussex Central Hall of Fame inductee Deon Jackson calls student/athlete Kendrique Nocks to the stage while addressing students during Friday’s induction ceremonies.

In a moment of emotion, Mr. Jackson jumped off the stage and asked for something he had received in his athletic career, but something his mom – widowed when he was 8 – never had.

“My mother has never gotten a round of applause,” Mr. Jackson said.

The audience obliged.

An all-state baseball player, Mr. Jackson – listed at 5-8, 180 pounds – played Division I football at Villanova, the first two years as a walk-on.

One of his shining gridiron moments was the Sept. 14, 1996 game against University of Delaware, which had not actively recruited him. “He had the game of his career: eight tackles and an interception in 27-0 win over the Blue Hens, breaking a seven-year string of losses to Delaware,” said Mr. Mitchell.

Mr. Mitchell recalled meeting a little Deon Jackson during the Little League days.

“He wasn’t the biggest; he wasn’t the most talented baseball player,” said Mr. Mitchell. “What I saw was a 9-year old kid with a desire to win and will to succeed. He was so hard on himself; it was difficult to get through to him when things didn’t go his way. I remember when he hit his first home run as an 11 year old. Deon’s last game of the season in his 11-year-old year he hits a home run. Most kids are running around the bases smiling. Not Deon; he comes to third base, slaps my hand and says, ‘Finally.’”

Mr. Jackson thanked Mr. Mitchell, who Mr. Jackson noted “was a cop,” for filling a fatherly void.

“You were the father figure I didn’t have in my life,” Mr. Jackson said. “I thank you for everything you did.”

Cathy Unruh

Delmarva’s WBOC-TV was one of Ms. Unruh’s stops in a 15-year broadcast journalism career. She currently hosts “Up Close with Cathy Unruh” and other programs for Public Media in the Tampa area.

“Imagine sitting in your living room and turning on the television and listening to your best friend,” said Lee McClenny, her childhood friend of 50-plus years.

Community service is now a big part of Ms. Unruh’s life.

An author – “Taming Me” a book about cat is one of her efforts – Ms. Unruh is a vegan and an advocate for animal welfare.

“I am well aware that I am in chicken country,” said Ms. Unruh. “So what I am about to propose might range anywhere from uncomfortable to radical to you, but I don’t know if you’ve ever considered that each and every farm animal is an animal that is the same as you are, the same as I am.

She reminded the audience that animals have pain, emotions that include terror.

“Get to know a farm animal. Don’t be afraid. Treat it not as an object but as an individual,” said Ms. Unruh.

Practice compassion was one of her three “wishes you would” directed toward the student body.

Another was: Listen. “The Dalai Lama said that when you speak you are repeating something you already know. When you listen you just might learn something new.”

Her third “wish you would” was to consider God.

“I’m in a school. This might be politically incorrect. I don’t care. I wish you would consider God,” said Ms. Unruh, whose request drew audience applause. “Think about God. Consider the qualities of God. Keep God in your life. In God’s view all living souls are equal; no matter their circumstances, their possessions, their outward appearances.”

“Cathy has always strived for excellence and she has always had great compassion for people and animals,” Ms. McClenny said.

Russell McCabe

History will show that Russell McCabe is passionate about history.

For more than three decades he was employed by the Delaware Public Archives, holding several positions with duties that included installation/dedication of numerous historical markers and monuments saluting Delaware’s rich history. He also served as Sussex County Recorder of Deeds, from 1987-’91.

Mr. McCabe was introduced by James Hudson, current Indian River School District board of education president and a 2014 Sussex Central Hall of Fame inductee.

“It is a particular pleasure and honor to be here,” said Mr. McCabe. “This is a little bit more emotional than you might think.”

Wearing his historian hat, Mr. McCabe reflected on significant events, including the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam and school district consolidation.

A class trip to Washington, D.C., was postponed following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968.

“The Vietnam War was an everyday part of our lives. Again, I’m sure I am not the only one that remembers sitting in the old auditorium at the old school … you could hear a pin drop when fellow classmates were remembered for their sacrifice …,” said Mr. McCabe. “Consolidation, it wasn’t easy. We made it work.”

“During our youth and upbringing there was a radical change in roles and opportunities for women. And I can’t think of two more shining examples of folks who took advantage of that than my former classmate, Ruth Briggs King, and a member of the Class of ’75, my friend Cathy Unruh.”

Markishia Wise

Markishia Wise’s athletic career at Sussex Central drew plenty of attention.

Her decision on college – University of Delaware over the likes of Harvard – was a major happening.

She graduated in 1995 as the school’s all-time basketball scoring leader. Her 1,534 career points still stand today.

“It’s never been about me. It’s been about who is around me,” said Ms. Wise, whose No. 44 jersey hangs in the gymnasium.

She achieved athletic success while taking AP and Honors course.

“I was an athlete, but I was a student foremost,” she said.

“I don’t remember a time when ‘Kishia’ was not successful; as an athlete, as a student as a human being,” said Lee Munford, in introducing Ms. Wise for induction. “She will never toot her own horn.”

Today, Ms. Wise works as a pharmaceutical production manager in her hometown of Millsboro.

Ms. Wise was diagnosed with leukemia in the mid-2000s.

“She does not wear that; she does not allow that to define her,” Ms. Munford said.

While in elementary school in Millsboro, Ms. Wise said she and classmates were challenged.

“We were always encouraged to be ourselves. I’m here today to tell you, be different. Dare to be different,” said Ms. Wise. “No matter what shoes you have on or the clothes have on, what matters most is what’s up here (mind) and what’s in your heart.”

Principal’s remarks

Sussex Central High School Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield encouraged current SCHS students in attendance to follow the inductees’ lead.

“I sincerely hope that several years from now I’ll have the pleasure of sitting in the audience watching several of you be recognized as these people have. Hopefully this will serve as an inspiration for them in their lives,” said Sussex Central High School Principal Dr. Bradley Layfield. “When you wear the colors of Sussex Central, it’s for life.”

SCHS sign

SCHS Hall of Fame

(Induction year at left)

1990: Bruce Rogers, Joseph Booth.

1991: Ileana Smith, Lynda Johnson, Cheryl Hedtke.

1992: Kevin Short, Mike DeLeon.

1993: Barbara Jackson, Ralph Richardson III.

1994: Alan Ellingsworth, Kenneth Clark Jr., Ivan Neal.

1995: Julie Ann Gregg McCade, Charles Hudson.

1996: John Young, Neal Hitchens.

1998: Grier White, Terry Megee, Cathy Hudson Gorman.

2000: William Baxter.

2002: Mark Murray.

2013: Carlos Barbosa, Robert Ruffin, Chad Spicer (posthumously), Deborah Windett.

2014: Dr. David Carter, James Hudson, Dr. Aimee Parker, Dr. Loriann White (posthumously).

2015: Ruth Briggs King, Deon Jackson, C. Russell McCabe, Cathy Unruh, Markishia Wise.





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