HALL OF FAME
This page contains biographical sketches of some of the famous people that currently live or once lived in Rockdale. If you'd like to nominate a Rockdale Hall of Fame candidate, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a short biographical sketch and photos.
Also I need photos of some of the individuals currently in the Rockdale Hall of Fame.
Leonard Kubiak, Website Cordinator
ROCKDALE HALL OF FAME
Benjamin and Joseph Loewenstein
Benjamin Loewenstein and his brother, Joseph Loewenstein were leaders in the Rockdale Community during it's founding years in the 1870's through the 1890's. Benjamin Loewenstein and his brother, Joseph opened for business in a tent on Wednesday, 24 December 1873, before the International & Great Northern Railroad reached Rockdale in January 1874. When the railroad came to Rockdale, it was the end of the line and community could only be characterized as a new unsettled western tent town.
When the railroad continued the line out of Rockdale, the town settled down and it was then that Benjamin and Joseph Loewenstein began to lay their plans to establish their business and grow with the community.
The business was originally started as the firm of "J. Loewenstein & Walter" with Joseph Loewenstein and George Walter as partners. On 6 May 1875, Benjamin bought-out the partnership interests of Mr. Walter and the business thereafter was known as B. Loewenstein & Brother until that relationship dissolved in 1895.
B. Loewenstein & Brother handled dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, and groceries on a cash only basis. The business occupied a double-front, two-story brick house located at the corners of Bell and Ackerman Streets [Block 8, Lot 13], was built at a cost of $6,000 and usually employed up to ten clerks.
The brothers were natives of the Posen Province of Prussia. The 19th Century Prussian Province of Posen was called Wielkopolska (literally meaning "Great Poland") until 1793, when the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires partitioned Poland.
In 1793, as a result of the "Second Partition of Poland," Wielkopolska was taken over by Prussia and initially renamed "Southern Prussia." After 1815, this term was no longer used and the province was referred to with the name of its capital town, Pozan (German: Pozen). Thus the capital of the Province of Posen is also named Posen.
This region was the historic center of origin of the Polish Nation in the 10th Century and was always one of the richest and most developed provinces of Poland. Both ethnic Germans and Poles lived there during the 18th and 19th Centuries during the time when Poland did not exist as a country.
After Germany lost World War I, the territory of the Province of Posen was included when the nation of Poland was created.
Benjamin was born on 2 March 1845 and Joseph was born on 18 September 1847. They were the sons of Elias Loewenstein and Eva Benjamin Loewenstein. According to his U.S. Naturalization papers, Benjamin arrived in America on Sunday, 18 March 1866. Benjamin came to Texas in 1868 and Joseph in 1869, and from that date until they settled in Rockdale, they lived in Colorado and Austin counties.
Benjamin was President and a member of the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Rockdale, which he helped to organize. He was a stockholder in the Rockdale Cotton Platform Company and established the Rockdale Brick Works that could produce 2-million bricks per year. By 1893, the brothers had built seven brick business buildings as well as a number of brick homes.
Joseph was a member of the Board of Aldermen for seven years. Benjamin served several years on the School Board and remained as a public school trustee for more than 20-years.
Benjamin was married on Thursday, 10 April 1873 to Miss Carrie Malsch in Colorado County, Texas. She was a native of Germany, having come to America with her parents as a small child. Benjamin and his wife, Carrie, were among the first settlers in Rockdale.
Caroline "Carrie" Malsch, born on Monday, 29 September 1851, was the daughter of Salomine (maiden name unknown) and Mathias "Matthew" Malsch. Her parents were married in 1846 at Hesse-Cassel, Germany. They came to Texas in 1855, and settled in Colorado County. Mr. Malsch was born on 22 Jun 1828 in Germany and was murdered by Emile Houillon on Friday, 25 February 1876. He is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery in Frelsburg, Colorado County, Texas. Mrs. Malsch was born on 4 November 1826, in Hesse-Cassel, Germany and died on Saturday, 16 November 1907 in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. She is buried in the Loewenstein Family Plot at the Jewish Cemetery in Rockdale.
Benjamin and Carrie were the parents of four sons, Arthur, Robert, Benjamin Jr., and Joe Jr.
Benjamin died at the Cameron Hospital on Friday, 11 May 1923. He had been in the hospital for an operation from which he died. He was buried on Sunday, 13 May 1923 in the Loewenstein Family Plot in the Jewish Cemetery at Rockdale.
Carried died at 3:30 at the Providence Sanitarium in Waco, McLennan County, on Wednesday, 8 June 1932. She had been in the hospital for several days after breaking her leg in a fall at her home in Rockdale. She was buried on Friday, 10 June 1932 in the Loewenstein Family Plot in the Jewish Cemetery at Rockdale.
Joseph E. (known as Joe Jr.) was born on Wednesday, 26 May 1875 in Rockdale. He was married to Virginia "Virgie" Claxton on Tuesday, 24 April 1906. Virgie was born in July 1876 in Texas. Joe Jr. died on Tuesday, 21 July 1908 and was buried in the Loewenstein Family Plot Jewish Cemetery in Rockdale, Milam County, Texas.
Arthur was born on Saturday, 30 Sep 1876 in Rockdale and died on Wednesday, 8 August 1877 in Rockdale. He is buried in the Loewenstein Family Plot in the Jewish Cemetery in Rockdale.
Benjamin Jr. was born on Sunday, 25 July 1880 in Rockdale. He was married on Wednesday, 29 November 1905 in Milam County, Texas to Lena Baldridge Howse. Lena was born on Wednesday, 8 July 1885 in Manor, Travis County, Texas and was the daughter of Isaac Henry Howse and Nancy Ida Phillips Howse. She died on Sunday, 4 June 1972 in Milam County, Texas and was buried at the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in Rockdale.
Benjamin Jr. died at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 25 December 1934 at the Providence Sanitarium in Waco, McLennan County, from the effects of brain concussion sustained on Monday, 19 December when he was struck by an automobile while crossing a business street in Rockdale. He was buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Rockdale.
Benjamin Jr. and Lena were the parents of two daughters, Miriam and Carrie.
Miriam born on Saturday, 15 February 1908. She married on Wednesday, 3 May 1933 in Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, New Mexico to James "Jimmy" Monroe McBride. She died on Friday, 29 March 1935 in Galveston County, Texas. She was buried at the IOOF Cemetery in Rockdale. James was born on Wednesday, 3 April 1907 in Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, New Mexico and died on Monday, 25 February 1952 in El Paso County, Texas. He was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso, El Paso County, Texas.
Carrie was born on Thursday, 30 September 1909 in Rockdale. She was married on 7 September 1939 to Silas Sidney Tharp. She died on Tuesday, 6 September 1977 in Milam County, Texas. Silas was born on Thursday, 22 March 1894 and died on Tuesday, 3 November 1970 in Bell County, Texas. They are both at the IOOF Cemetery in Rockdale.
Robert was born on Thursday, 12 February 1874, Milam County, Texas. He was married on Tuesday, 21 February 1899 to Bertie Ivy Loper at the Methodist Church at Rockdale. He died on Sunday, 14 December 1941 in New York, New York. Bertie was born on Wednesday, 16 December 1874 in Davilla, Milam County, Texas and died on Saturday, 1 October 1960 in Aurora, Adams County, Colorado.
C.H. Coffield was President of Rockdale Improvement Company in 1893 (water and electric services and
President of The Rockdale Mining and Manufacturing Company
James Samual Perry
James Samual Perry was an early-day Mayor of Rockdale, founder of the Rockdale Bank and member of the Rockdale Improvement Company and member of the Rockdale School Board.
Mary Ann Coffield Perry
Mary Ann Coffield Perry, wife of Preston H. Perry, founded the Rockdale
Matinee Musical Club in 1909 with charter members Mrs. Preston H. Perry, Mrs. Pearl Cawthon, Mrs. Andrew Perry, Misses Margaret MeCalla, Grace Longmoor, Alice Graves, Jessie Sessions, Ruth Isaacs and Norris Wallis.
The club membership was limited to twelve women. The yearbooks were done by hand in the early years and were works of art. They became federated in January of 1922. Many whose names have appeared on the roster not only studied under musical artists in Tesas, but completed work in Conservatories of the greater musical centers. The club on special occasions has provided programs which always drew large and appreciative crowds. One memorable occasion was during World War 1. The club gave a benefit, the proceeds going to the war relief fund. The members, gowned in Red Cross uniforms, gave a program that brought generous applause from every corner of the packed auditorium.
Texas Historical Marker commemorating the Rockdale Matinee Musical Club
Site of the Meeting Place for the Rockdale Matinee Musical Club
Rockdale can lay claim as the birthplace of bulldogging.It happened right here in 1903 when famous black rodeo star, Bill Pickett got the idea for bulldogging a steer as he watched bulldogsworking alongside cowboys. When a stubborn Texas Longhorn refused to enter a corral and was panicking the rest of the herd, Pickett rode his horse at full speed alongside the troublesome steer, jumped off his horse and grabbed the steer by its horns. As the longhorn continued to fight him, Pickett bit it on its lower lip and tossed the animal to the ground. All early bulldoggers at rodeos used the lip-biting tactic, but it has been gradually phased out of the bulldogging event at modern rodeos.
William (Bill) Pickett, Famous Rodeo Star of the early 1900's
William (Bill) Pickett was born on December 5,1870, in Travis County to Thomas Jefferson and Mary Virginia Elizabeth Gilbert Pickett, former slaves who had thirteen children. Pickett only attended elementary school until he completed the fifth grade; after that, he went to work as a ranch hand.
In 1888, the Pickett family moved to Taylor where Bill and some of his brothers started a business "breaking" horses. Bill joined the National Guard and was a deacon in the Baptist church in Taylor, where he also performed rodeo feats at local fairs.
At the age of twenty he married a young woman named Maggie Turner, with whom he eventually had nine children. Pickett gave demonstrations of this technique at fairs and rodeos around Texas, and the event grew in popularity. (Pickett was only five-seven and weighed about 145 pounds, so his wrestling a full-grown steer to the ground was a remarkable feat, in itself.)
Pickett performed at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1904 and impressed everyone. Soon after, he was hired by the 101 Ranch Show, and moved with his wife and children to Oklahoma. With this show, Pickett traveled around the U.S., Canada,
Mexico, and even performed in England and South America.
From 1905 to 1931, the Miller brothers' 101 Ranch Wild West Show was one of the great shows in the tradition begun by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody in 1883. The 101 Ranch Show introduced bulldogging (steer wrestling), an exciting rodeo event invented by Bill Pickett, one of the show's stars.
Riding his horse, Spradley, Pickett came alongside a Longhorn steer, dropped to the steer's head, twisted its head toward the sky, and bit its upper lip to get full control.
William (Bill) Pickett, Famous Rodeo Star of the early 1900's Riding his horse, Spradley
Cowdogs of the Bulldog breed were known to bite the lips of cattle to subdue them. That's how Pickett's technique got the name "bulldogging." As the event became more popular among rodeo cowboys, the lip biting became increasingly less popular until it disappeared from steer wrestling altogether. Bill Pickett, however, became an immortal rodeo cowboy, and his fame has grown since his death.
Bill Pickett died April 2, 1932, after being kicked in the head by a horse. His grave is on what is left of the 101 Ranch property near Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Famed humorist Will Rogers announced the funeral of his friend on his radio show. In 1989, years after being honored by the National Rodeo Hall of Fame, Pickett was inducted into the Prorodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
George Sessions Perry
George Sessions Perry was a famous writer from Rockdale Texas in the early to mid 1900's. Perry
was born in Rockdale on May 5, 1910. Later, he met and married Claire Hodges and the couple moved to Rockdale where he wrote six novels and more than fifty short stories about Rockdale and other small-town Texas towns and rural areas.
In 1937, the Saturday Evening Post published one of his stories, and soon thereafter Doubleday published his first book, Walls Rise Up, a comic novel about three vagrants living along the Brazos River.
Hold Autumn in Your Hand
In 1941 Perry wrote Hold Autumn in Your Hand, a novel about a year in the life of a tenant farmer. This novel which won the National Book Award in 1941, is still the book for which Perry is best known. The book was made into a popular movie, "The Southerner," starring Zachary Scott as Sam Tucker, the story's main character. The book is often compared with Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck, with Perry's book often getting the higher mark from critics.
The book's main character is Sam Tucker, a poor tenant farmer in the Brazos River bottoms "contending with nature, the seasons, the river and more than a few of his fellow men." It's a hard look at a hard life but Perry's affection for the land and people who live on it is genuine and unabashed.
In the community of Liberty Hill, it's not hard even now, to see Sam Tucker striding the land and checking the skies for rain.
Perry wrote with lifelong affection about Rockdale, first as a novelist and later as a magazine journalist.
"Rockdale, my hometown, is Texas' heart and significant part of its soul," Perry wrote in his book, "Texas: A World Unto Itself." He describes the pioneers of Rockdale as typical of restless Southerners who hitched their wagons and moved to Texas after the Civil War.
"The little group that landed at Rockdale selected this spot because the land was sandy," he wrote. "It was easy for a tired man and small, tired mules to plow. There were plenty of building posts at hand, and the land would grow the broad variety of items a pioneer family needed."
In his book Texas: A World In Itself Perry writes about the "jovial prosperity" that came to Rockdale with the coming of the railroad. He wrote also of the social order imposed out of that prosperity: "Mrs. Hicks was the town's first lady, social arbiter and senior member of a regency which built, directed, and controlled Rockdale's imposing stucco Baptist church," he wrote "The other member of this regency was God."
Perry served as a war correspondent in World War II after a broken arm that never healed properly kept him out of the armed forces. He was in the first wave of men to hit the beach at Salerno, during the invasion of Italy.
He never got the images of war out of his mind and could not bring himself to write a novel about what he saw. Yet he could not imagine writing fiction without including his experiences in the war.
After the war Perry became one of the highest paid magazine writers in the country. His series on "Cities of America" was collected in hardback and he enjoyed success with other books but he never published another significant piece of fiction.
According to friends and scholars, Perry believed he "sold out" his talent for a lucrative career in magazine journalism. In order to be closer to the lucrative magazine markets, Perry and his wife Claire maintained a home in Connecticut; Perry felt he turned his back on the hometown that nurtured and inspired him.
All of these doubts and demons were fueled by Perry's struggle with arthritis, alcoholism and strong symptoms of increasing mental illness.
Those who knew him in those dark days were not completely surprised when on a cold December day in 1956 Perry walked out of his house and into a Connecticut River. Three months later his body washed up in a nearby town. The coroner ruled Perry died an "accidental death by drowning."
Daniel Eugene Kubiak
Daniel Eugene Kubiak, known as Dan to his many friends, was born on March 19, 1938 (oldest of six children of John and Connie Kubiak) in Reagan, Falls County, Texas.
graduated from Marlin High School, Marlin, Texas (Falls County) in 1957. He served as class President and lettered in Football, basketball, track and Baseball.
Dan was recruited by Blinn College to play Basketball and Football; graduated from Blinn College, Brenham, Texas with an A.A. Degree in 1959.
Following two years at Blinn, Dan transferred to the University of Texas on a football schlorship and graduated with a B.B.A. in Mathematics in 1962. Dan played semi-pro football for the Vernon Vikings (State Champs in 1962).
Kubiak received his Master's of Education from Midwestern University, Wichita Falls, Texas in 1968 and his doctorate degree (PhD in Education) from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dan was a Math Teacher and Coach at the Vernon Public Schools in Vernon, Texas in 1962 and 1963 and received the Teacher of the Year Award in 1967 from both the Cypress-Fairbanks High School and the Texas State Teachers Association (District Award).
Kubiak began his political career in 1968 when he won his first term in the 61st Texas Legislature by defeating an incumbent state representative of District 27 (Milam, Falls and Robertson Counties). Dan was reelected to his second term in 1970 and in 1972 defeated the District 36 (Burlington, Milam, Robertson, Washington and Waller Counties) incumbent to win his third legislative term.
In 1973, Kubiak was a delegate to the historic constitutional convention in Milam County as Chairman of the Committee and Section on Education. He was later reelected in 1974, 1976, 1978 and 1980 as the representative for District 36.
Dan Kubiak met President L.B.J on several occasions
During his seven terms in office, Kubiak served on the Education Committee, Agriculture and Livestock Committee, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Penitentiaries Committee, Special Committee on Four-Quarter School Plan, Rules Committee and the Appropriations Committee. He served as Chairman of the Budget and Oversight Committee and the Subcommittee on Federal Funds during the 67th Legislature (1981), his seventh term in office.
Speaker of the House Bill Clayton appointed Kubiak as Chairman of the State Fire Ant Committee in 1981. After his seventh term in office, Kubiak left public office to pursue other political and business interests. He unsuccessfully ran for Texas Land Commissioner in 1982 and lost to Republican Phil Gramm in a special election for U.S. Congress in 1983. In 1984, he lost another bid for Congress againtist the GOP's Joe Barton of Ennis. During this time he also concentrated on personal real estate, farming and construction projects.
In 1990 Kubiak was reelected to his 8th term in the legislature representing District 13 (Burlington, Milam, Robertson, Washington and Waller counties). He was reelected in 1992, 1994 and 1996. In 1992, District 13 was redrawn to include Austin, Brazos, Burleson, Lee, Milam and Washington Counties.
During these terms he served on the Higher Education Committee, the Agriculture and Livestock Committee, the Committee to Study Texas State Technical College, the Appropraitions Committee, the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee and the Joint Interim Committee on State Investment Policy. He served as Chairman of the Funding Formulas for Higher Education Committee, the Deferred Maintenance Committee, the Sub-Committee for regulatory Agencies and the Oversight of Major Information Systems Interim Committee. Kubiak was Vice-Chairman for the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee.
Kubiak was running for reelection in 1998 when he died unexpectedly at his home in Rockdale, Texas.
Throughout his 22 years in public office, Kubiak was the recipient of many awards and a member of many private and non-profit organizations in addition to being active in his hometown community of Rockdale, Texas.
Dan Kubiak was the father of three children and is buried at the Texas State Cemetery.
Dan is also the author of Ten Tall Texans, (1967, Naylor)- the biography of ten founding fathers of the Republic of Texas, and
Monument to a Black Man, (1972, Naylor)- the biography of William Goyens, confidant and aide of Sam Houston, land owner in early day Texas and Indian treaty negotiator.
In the Legislature, Kubiak contributed his expertise in education and
budget issues. He was named one of the "Ten Best Legislators" in
1973 by Texas Monthly magazine, which called him "the best educated
education chairman in modern time." The Texas County Agents
Association selected him "Man of the Year" in Agriculture in 1981.
The Texas Classroom Teachers Association named him Legislator of the
Year" in 1983. The Texas Public Employee Association and State
Employees named him "Legislator of the Year" in 1993, and the Texas 4-
H Alumni awarded him the same honor in 1994.
For more information, see Dan Kubiak Memorial Page
L.B. Kubiak, Class of 1964 Inducted into RHS Distinguished Alumni in October 2019
Dr. L.B. Kubiak, served two terms as State Representative from Rockdale. Like his brother Dan, L.B. was born in Reagan, Texas and graduated from Rockdale High School in 1964. He was one of the leaders of the first Rockdale football team to play in the state finals in Football.
L.B. graduated from Texas A&M University as a Veternarian, and later followed in his brother's footsteps as State Representative from Rockdale for two terms (1982-1990).
The honorable L.B. Kubiak currently lives in Rockdale and is active in the Rockdale community.
Another Rockdale Kubiak is Elected Representative
Elizabeth Jean Kubiak Cundieff
Jean Kubiak, sister of Dan and L.B Kubiak aslo left deep footprints in the sands of Rockdale history.
Born in Reagan, Texas, Jean grew up picking cotton in the fields with her brothers. Jean put Rockdale on the girl's basketball map by leading the girls basketball team all the way to state finals in the early 1960's(their coach was Ernie Laurence who had previously coached her brother, Dan Kubiak in Marlin). Jean went on to earn her PHD in Education and a successful and dedicated teaching career in Farson, Wyoming that spanned several decades.
Jean is shown here with the 1959 Girls Basketball Team.
Elizabeth Jean Kubiak Cundieff
Jean Kubiak Cundieff Memorial Page.
Kenneth D. Cockrell,
a graduate of Rockdale High School in 1968; received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from University of Texas in 1972, and a master of science degree in aeronautical systems from the University of West Florida in 1974, and earned the Armed Forces Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Kenneth Cockrell, 1968 Graduate of Rockdale High School Becomes Famous Astronaut
Kennith received the Alcoa Foundation Scholarship upon graduating from high school,received his commission through the Naval Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate Program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in December 1972. He was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1974 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Following type training in the A-7 aircraft, he flew the Corsair II from 1975 to 1978 aboard the USS Midway in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1978 he reported to the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland.
After graduation in 1979, he remained at the Naval Air Test Center conducting a variety of flight tests on the A-4, A-7, F-4, and F/A-18 aircraft through mid-1982. He then reported to Naval Station, San Diego, for duty as a staff officer for the Commander of the USS Ranger and subsequently the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Groups. Cockrell was then assigned as a pilot in an operational F/A-18 squadron and made two cruises on the USS Constellation in 1985 and 1987. He resigned his commission in 1987 and accepted a position at the Aircraft Operations Division of the Johnson Space Center. Cockrell retired from the Naval Reserve in June 1999. He has logged over 7,500 flying hours and 650 carrier landings.
NASA EXPERIENCE: From November 1987 to July 1990, Cockrell worked as an aerospace engineer and research pilot at Ellington Field, Houston. He was an instructor pilot and functional check pilot in NASA T-38 aircraft. He conducted air sampling and other high altitude research while piloting the WB-57 and was an aircraft commander in the Gulfstream I administrative transport aircraft.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Cockrell became an astronaut in July 1991. His technical assignments to date include: duties in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch, working on landing, rollout, tires and brakes issues; CAPCOM in Mission Control for ascent and entry; Astronaut Office representative for Flight Data File, the numerous books of procedures carried aboard Shuttle flights. He served as Assistant to the Chief of the Astronaut Office for Shuttle operations and hardware, and has served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch.
A veteran of three space flights, he has logged over 906 hours in space. He served as a mission specialist on STS-56 (April 8-17, 1993), was the pilot on STS-69 (September 7-18, 1995), and was the mission commander on STS-80 (November 19 to December 7, 1996). He presently serves as Chief of the Astronaut Office.
SPACEFLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-56, carrying ATLAS-2 was a nine-day mission during which the crew of Discovery conducted atmospheric and solar studies in order to better understand the effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate and environment. STS-56 launched April 8, 1993, and landed April 17, 1993. Mission duration was 9 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, 21 seconds.
The primary objective of STS-69 (September 7-18, 1995) was the successful deployment and retrieval of a SPARTAN satellite and the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). The WSF is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of using a free-flying platform to grow semiconductors, high temperature superconductors and other materials using the ultra-high vacuum created behind the spacecraft. Mission duration was 10 days, 20 hours, 28 minutes.
During STS-80 (November 19 to December 7, 1996) the crew deployed and retrieved the Wake Shield Facility (WSF) and the Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer (ORFEUS) satellites. The ORFEUS instruments, mounted on the reusable Shuttle Pallet Satellite, studied the origin and makeup of stars. Mission duration was a record breaking 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes.
Coach Duane Vincent, Rockdale Basketball Coach and Math Teacher, 1960-1973.
Duane Vincent was born on February 3, 1930 in Gordon, Wisconsin to Emory Arnold and Laverne (Wilkinson) Vincent.
Duane grew up in Ketchikan Alaska (salmon capital of the world) midway between Anchorage Alaska and Seattle. Duane attended Ketchikan High School where he was a star player on the basketball team and graduated in May of 1947.
Duane loved fishing and spent every spare minute fishing in an area noted
for its strong runs of trophy-size fish, including king (chinook), silver (coho), red (sockeye), pink (humpy), chum (dog) salmon, giant halibut, red snapper, ling cod and rock cod. The area was also known for it's numerous wilderness lakes and streams providing incredible fishing for steelhead, Dolly Varden, grayling, rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Huge runs of salmon migrate into the protected waters of the Inside Passage near Ketchikan, Alaska. It was for this reason that Ketchikan Creek was selected by Tlingit natives for their summer fish camp, and why the town was established in 1900 by commercial fishing interests.
From 1952 to 1954, Duane served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War taking his basic training at Ft. Richardson in Alaska
where Duane was named by the Armed Forces to be a member of the Honorary All Alaska All Star First Team.
Duane returned to San Marcos, Texas where he played on the SWTSC Bobcats basketball team and eventually obtained a master's degree in education from Southwest Texas State College in San Marcos in 1958. In 1975, he returned to get his Mid-Management certification.
Duane was an outstanding basketball player for the Southwest Texas State College (SWTSC) Bobcats and was a recognized alumnus of SWTSC for academic excellence and his performance in basketball.
Duane Vincent came to RHS in 1960 as a math teacher and basketball coach. In 1966, Duane's basketball team made it to the State playoffs in Austin.
Duane continued his winning ways as a basketball coach and was named Austin American Centex Coach of the Year '78-79.
Duane and Polly Perry were married on May 13, 1989.
Duane was an educator and coach in Rockdale ISD, Hutto ISD, San Saba ISD and Wrangell, and AK ISD.
Duane continued to be an avid fisherman for salmon in Alaska (where he made one final fishing trip just weeks his death).
Duane enjoyed sports of every kind and was a very talented bridge player as many an oponent can testify. Duane loved his family and friends and his SWTSC Bobcats and will long be remembered by all.
J.W. "Bill" Cooke
J.W. Bill" Cooke, editor and publisher of The Rockdale Reporter since 1981, is the third generation of his family to be involved with the Rockdale Reporter. His grandfather, John Esten Cooke, bought the paper in 1911. Bill's father, W.H. Cooke,
joined the newspaper staff in 1930 and became publisher in 1936.
Bill Cooke graduated from the journalism department of North Texas State University in 1959 (where he received the Outstanding Senior Journalism Award).
Bill joined the Reporter as news editor in January 1959 after serving six months active duty in the National Guard. He was re-called into active duty with the 49th Armored Division during the Berlin Crisis where he served in the Public Information Office on the post newspaper at Fort Polk, La.
Bill and Peggy Adams Cooke were married in December, 1957 and the parents of four children: Kathy Cooke Phillips, Kyle W. Cooke, Ken Esten Cooke and Kevin Adams Cooke. Peggy Cooke was a newspaper heavy-weight in her own rights having served as president of the South Texas Press Association.
Bill Cooke returned to the Reporter in October of 1962 and became editor and co-publisher of the Reporter in 1970. He became editor/publisher in 1981, purchasing his father's interest in the paper. A fourth generation, Ken Esten Cooke, joined the newspaper staff in 1995 and is involved with news coverage and web site and other tech responsibilities. Daughter Kathy Cooke Phillips also is employed in the advertising department.
Bill Cooke served as treasurer of the Texas Press Association and is a past director of the South Texas Press Association. He is past-president of the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, served as a director of the Industrial Foundation, is newsletter editor for the local Rotary Club, is a past hospital board member and has been involved in many other civic duties in Rockdale. He is an active member of St. John's United Methodist Church and has served in various capacities for the church.
Through all four generations, the Rockdale Reporter has been a consistent winner in Texas Press Association and South Texas Press Association newspaper contests, winning "Best All Around" Awards at STPA for eight years.
John Harvey Cherry
John Harvey Cherry, another graduate of Rockdale High School, achieved prominence in the field of education
John Harvey Cherry was born January 25, 1891, on a farm near Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. He was the only child of George Collie and Carrie Pruett Cherry. His mother died when he was eighteen months old. John was reared by his paternal grandparents, and he attended elementary school in Milam County. He graduated from high school in Rockdale. After he graduated, he lived with his maternal grandparents while he attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College. John took subjects needed for the State Teachers Certificate. He married Alice Buffington on December 25, 1910.
In 1921 and after the birth of a son, John Harold, in 1920, John Cherry entered Texas A&M College and gained a certificate as a classer of cotton. He was the top student of 300 and 1 of only 20 to receive a special certificate. John was president of his freshman class and of the Schoolmasters Club.
John Cherry taught school for ten years in Milam County and seven years in Gonzales County. He received his BS degree from Southwest Texas Teachers College in 1934 and came to Matagorda County as a teacher in the Collegeport schools. On April 10, 1936, Cherry became principal of the Jefferson Davis Elementary School in Bay City and in July, 1944, superintendent of Bay City ISD, a position he held until his retirement in 1960. In 1951, John H. Cherry received his MEd from the University of Houston. During his tenure of teaching and as superintendent, Cherry saw the Bay City schools grow from three schools to seven campuses. He served the Region III Educational Center as a director for many years. In 1962 the John H. Cherry School was named in his honor.
Cherry was a member of the Bay City Chamber of Commerce and a charter member of the Bay City Lions Club. He was one of the originators of the Rice Festival, served as president of the Lions Club, and was honored with a life membership. He served as a director of the Crippled Children's Camp in Kerrville, Texas. He was a member of Gamma Mu, Phi Delta Kappa, and Who's Who in American Education. In 1952 he received a life membership in the PTA. He was an avid golfer throughout the years, and he played regularly each week through his 91st years.
John H. Cherry's life reflects that of a learned and scholarly man, who studied long and hard in many different colleges which gained him a high level of education which he used as a tool to give others a better knowledge of the things around them.
John Harvey Cherry died January 25, 1983, on his 92nd birthday. He was buried beside his wife, Alice Buffington Cherry, in Roselawn Memorial Park, Van Vleck.
H. D. Maxwell
H. D. (Farmer)Maxwell became a member of the Rockdale Public Schools in 1933, in that year he founded the Vocational Agriculture and F. F. A. Departments. He served as agriculture teacher and F. F. A. advisor for twenty-one years.
He was principal of the high school for four years; was for twelve years Milam County School Superintendent. He was a forty-eight year member of the Texas State Teachers' Association and was past president of the Texas County School Superintendents' Association. He also held in 1973 the offfice of president of the Retired Teachers' Association of Milam County.
He served as scoutmaster for eighteen years and received the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor given to an adult scout leader.
Mr. Maxwell served as president of the Young Men's Business League, then later was president of the Chamber of Commerce in Rockdale. He helped found the South Milam County operation of the Taylor Soil Conservation District and organized a post-World War 11 Gl Vocational School in Rockdale.
Maxwell was twice president of the Lions club, was county chairman of the March of Dimes and was named president of the South Milam County unit of the American Cancer Society in 1972.
As a forty year member of the First Christian Church in Rockdale, Mr. Maxwell served as deacon, elder, Sunday school teacher and was past president of the Christian Men's Fellowship (CMF) and the state Christian Men's Fellowship (Disciples) of Texas. He was active in the Rockdale Christian Association (RCA), an organization of local lay leaders and clergymen. He was, at the time of his death, serving as president of that organization.
Dennis Brooks Sr.
Dennis Brooks Sr., Aycock High School, Class of 1960, was inducted into Rockdale High School's "Distinguished Alumni" Program in October 2019. Dr. Brooks is the founder and President of the Institute for Teaching God's Word Seminary, headwuartered in Rockdale with satellite campuses in Houston, League City, Oceanside, Texas San Francisco and San Diego, California Seattle, Washington, Paris, France, Aachen, Germany, Brussels, Belgium and the island of Dominica. Dr. Brooks aso founded the New Jerusalem Interdominational Church and the American Academy of Crisis Counseling in Rockdale. He is also the founder of Sho' Nuff Soul Food Diner in Rockdale and the author of two books.
Adolph McVoy, another famous Rockdale citizen, served with distinction in World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the ETO Ribbon with 5 Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, one Oak Leaf Cluster and a Combat Infantryman�s Badge.
For longer than most of us can remember, Adolph McVoy Jr. and his dad, Alfred Adolph McVoy Sr, have operated McVoys Feed and Grocery Store in Rockdale and many of the high school students earned their gas money working for Adolph.
Adolph's father was Alfred Adolph McVoy, born
July 25, 1893 in Gardner Community, Texas to parents John William MCVOY (born July 23, 1863 in Port Gibson, Claiborne Co. Miss.) and
Mother: Lucy Safronia MOORE McVoy, born November 26, 1867 in Coryell County, Texas. Alfred Adolph died on November 24, 1978
and is buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetary in Rockdale.
We all heard Adolph McVoys
war stories and on many an occasion, he would break out the old discolored newspaper clippings telling of his heroic adventures in World War II.
Pfc. Adolph McVoy, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. A. A. McVoy, Rockdale, husband of Hilda Gest, graduate of Rockdale HS. Entered Army in 1943, trained at Ft. Bragg, N. C. Served in England, Wales, France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia.
Pfc. McVoy was awarded the Bronze Star, the ETO Ribbon with 5 Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal, two Presidential Unit Citations, one Oak Leaf Cluster and a Combat Infantryman�s Badge. Adolph was discharged in 1945 and returned to Rockdale where he lives today.
The following is a reprint of an article that appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram on June 6, 2003 in memory of the famous battle on Omaha Red Beach in Normandy, France that took place on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
�If we are going to die, let�s not die on this damn beach.� Adolph McVoy remembers this stirring battle cry of a colonel shortly after the 1st Division made its landing at Omaha Red Beach in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. �It was dark,� said McVoy, speaking with explicitness, as if the epic Allied invasion into Nazi-occupied Europe were yesterday. �I had good luck. I didn�t go in the first run. I went in on the second wave. There wasn�t too many of the first wave that made it in. �We got in on the beach and got behind a little hill or wall, and they were shooting pretty good,� McVoy recalled.
This old colonel came by and said, �Let�s get out from behind this damn bunker, if we are going to die, let�s not die on this damn beach.� Pfc. Alfred Adolph �Tex� McVoy remembers bullets �flying pretty heavy� and he was scared.
He recalled wading with full pack and rifle through waist deep water in the rough shore waters of the English Channel.
McVoy was assigned to the 16th Infantry, 2nd Battalion of the 1st Division, which adopted the motto �No job is too little or too big.� This time the job was big.
About 10 days after D-Day, McVoy was awakened from battlefield slumber by an airplane dogfight overhead. McVoy stepped out of the tent for a look, and upon returning found that a 5--calibre slug had struck where he had been lying. �Right there where my chest would have been and we dug down and there was a 50-caliber slug,� he said. �The Good Lord got me up for some reason or other. I had a lucky break.� McVoy kept the slug as a souvenir.
McVoy was born Feb. 25, 1919, in Tanglewood in Lee County. McVoy married Hilda Gest on June 11, 1943, and joined the Army July 13, 1943, training at Fort Bragg, N.C.
After basic training, Adolph spent Christmas in Washington, D.C. and celebrated New Year�s in New York City. He still remembers the thrill of seeing Times Square on New Year�s Eve. McVoy and 15,000 other soldiers traveled overseas aboard the Ile de France, docking in Glasgow, Scotland.
McVoy was trained at Cardiff, Wales, and was assigned to the 16th Infantry, 1st Division. Mrs. Hilda McVoy said she wrote to her husband nearly every day from Rockdale, and the family sent numerous packages of candies and other treats to their war hero. She saved all the letters he wrote home.
Reprinted from an article that appeared in the June 6, 2003 Temple Daily Telegram written by Jeanne Williams.
Tommie Joe Clark
Sgt. Tommie Joe Clark
was the first Rockdale soldier to die in Vietnam action. Tommie Joe Clark, born November 6, 1945, was killed in Binh Long in South Vietnam on December 16, 1968. He is honored on Panel 36W, Row 29 of
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Tommie was the son of Howard Vernon "Dick" Clark and Elois Gunter Clark.
Howe King (Petie) Clark, Jr.
Staff Sgt. Howe King (Petie) Clark, Jr. was killed in action in Vietnam May 23, 1969, the second Rockdale soldier to die in Vietnam. As services were conducted at the church and cemetery, business houses in Rockdale closed in memoriam. U.S. flags were mounted on the streets in tribute to Sgt. Clark's service for his country. This was in response to a proclamation issued by Mayor Harold Luckey asking that a special show of respect be given.
The 23-year-old soldier, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. K. (Pete) Clark of 123 Scarbrough, died in hostile action in Vietnam, Army officials said.
Clark had been in the Army for 22 months and in Vietnam since August. He was with Company C, 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 1st Infantry Division.
Army officials described Sgt. Clark as an "excellent soldier who had advanced rapidly in rank during his 22 months service." He was a graduate of the Non-Commissioned Officers School at Fort Benning, Ga.
His death occurred in the northern combat area of South Vietnam. His unit had spend much of its duty in that area, near Loc Ninh, and one of his recent letters to his parents noted that his unit was only about four miles from the Cambodian border.
"His letters mentioned the fast-moving pace his unit maintained but he did not complain," his father said. Among many photographs Sgt. Clark sent home were scenes of village evacuations and burnings and a Viet Cong arms cache.
Sgt. Clark was born June 13, 1946 at Cameron and graduated from Rockdale High School in May of 1964. While a student, he worked for six years part-time at McVoy Grocery & Feed Co. Following graduation from high school he attended Blinn College at Brenham for two years and also Stephen F. Austin College.
Clark was baptized at Peach Lutheran Church on Jan. 14, 1951 and was confirmed at that church Sept. 4, 1960.
Clark was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. K. (Pete) Clark; grandparents, Mrs. J. M. Clark and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Doss; a sister, Frances Ann Clark, all of Rockdale; and a brother, Ken Lee Clark, surviving with the U.S. Air Force in Thailand. The brother, who had been in Thailand only 10 days was flown here by the Air Force for the funeral.
Pallbearers were Robert Urban, Clark Cobb, Johnny Paresel, Carl Moody, Bob Melcher and Caroll Grimm, all close friends of Sgt. Clark.
Doctor John Terrance Richards
Another famous Rockdale citizen, Dr.
John Terrance Richards, has touched the lives of most of the people of Rockdale over the past 50 years. Doctor Richards was born on March 7, 1911 at Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. He appeared on the census of January 15, 1920 at Oak Hill Road, Rockdale, Milam County, Texas and on the census of April 25,1930 at Justice Precinct 4, Rockdale, Milam County, Texas. John Richards married Elizabeth Jeanne Foster on December 26,1937. Rockdale's hospital was founded in June 1949 by Dr. John T. Richards and Dr. John J. Hopper under the name of the Richards-Hopper Clinic and Hospital. Dr. Hopper was a surgeon and medical school classmate of Dr. Richards. Dr. Richards, a native of Rockdale, returned to practice in his home city in 1945. He attended St. Mary's University in San Antonio, then graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with his M.D. in 1939. He served in the U. S. Army's Medical Corp from 1940 to 1945 and has been in active practice in Rockdale since that time.
When Dr. Richards first returned to Rockdale to practice, many babies were still being delivered in the homes. He spent much of his time on rural house calls or en route to the nearest hospital in Cameron, Texas. Rockdale had no industry and few citizens who could support a community hospital. Dr. Richards and Dr. Hopper borrowed the necessary money to convert a large frame building located at the corner of Main and San Amlres Streets into a clinic and hospital. Dr. Hopper left the hospital in November, 1949, to take up practice in another city and the venture became the Richards Clinic & Hospital. Later, another frame building was acquired and additional patients' rooms added. A large stone-fronted reception area was added joining the two buildings. In 1964, a modern brick clinic was built. This allowed additional space in the existing buildings for patients' rooms. Dr. Richards, Dr. Philip M. Young and Dr. L. E. Selden operated the private clinic under the name of the Rockdale Medical Association for many years.
In 1970, local citizens formed a hospital board of trustees with Emory C. Camp as president and built a community hospital named the Richards Memorial Hospital in honor of Dr. Richards.
Other Famous Richards Family Members
The Richards family has lived in the Rockdale area for over 5 generations. One of the early Richards ancesters was William Brock Richards, also known as M. C. B. "William" Richards. He was born on April 15, 1838 at Culpeper County, Virginia and appeared on the census of July 2, 1860 at Western District, Milam County, Texas. He married Arkansas Arabella Archer, daughter of Isaac P. Archer and T. Edens, on 15 May 1873 at Milam County, Texas. William Brock Richards died on April 30, 1886 at Milam County, Texas, USA, at the age 48.
Doctor James Richards, Civil War Soldier from Rockdale
Another Richards ancester became a physician and served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. This was J. T. B. "Jim" Richards, born on April 25, 1842 at Culpeper County, Virginia. He enlisted for military service on September 23, 1861 at Houston, Harris County, Texas in the 8th Texas Cavalry - Company "A" or Terry's Regiment. Jim Richards served as Private and Corporal.before ending his military service in 1865 at CSA Company "A" Texas Calvary. He appeared on the census of 7 Jan 1870 at Millerton, Milam County, Texas. He was listed as a physician on 7 Jan 1870 at Millerton, Milam County, Texas. He and William Thomas Jefferson Richards appeared on the census of 1880 at District 103, Milam County, Texas. As of 1880, Jim Richards was also known as Dr. James Richards and he married Kate Jones on March 19, 1884. Dr. James Richards died on March 9, 1932 at the Confederate Home in Austin at the age 89.
Early-day Horse and Buggy Doctor of Rockdale
Dr. T.S. Barkley started his medical practice in Rockdale in 1912
Dr. T.S. Barkley, who practiced medicine in Rockdale and the Milam County area for over 50 years beginning in 1912, was born in Rice (Navarro County) in 1885.
He received his medical degree at Southwestern University in Georgetown and served his internship at St. Paul's Sanitarium in Dallas. In 1912, he moved to Rockdale and setup a horse and buggy practice. He served as a medical officer with the Army medical corps in World War I. He also served as a surgeon for both the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific Railroads and a member of the St. Edwards Hospital in Cameron. Dr. Barkley was a lifetime member of the Board of St. John's Methodist Church in Rockdale and a 32nd degree Mason.
Dr. T.S. Barkley started his medical practice in Rockdale in 1912, served in World War I, a board member of St. John's Methodist Church in Rockdale, and a 32-nd degree Mason. Dr. Barkley died at the age of 79 in February of 1965.
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