R.A. Long set to welcome new Hall of Fame class

By Rick McCorkle / The Daily News | Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 8:15 pm

Thirteen individuals and two state championship squads are the newest inductees into the R.A. Long High School Hall of Fame.

The seventh annual ceremony will be held 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Dana Brown Mainstage Theater at the high school, and is free to the public. In addition, the new archive room at the school will be opened.

Honorees are Bill Hecker, Wallace Holden, Willard Lamb, Kurt Matter, Roberta Mawae, Dick Peters, Mike Polis, Greg Price, Larry Rhodes, Tom Spellmeyer and Steve Vogel in the individual category; Robert Ericksen and Clinton Sayler for Lifetime Achievement; and the 1939 state champion swim team and the 1952 champion football team.

This year’s inductees were selected by a committee of former and current administrators and community members.

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees:

William (Bill) Hecker (Class of 1969): During his prep years, Hecker was considered one of the best football players to graduate from R.A. Long. He was named team MVP and earned the Star Award as a junior and senior, and was a two-time all-conference running back.

Hecker was part of RAL’s famed 1967 “Red Mob” football team which was inducted into the RAL Hall of Fame in 2009. During the season, the Lumberjacks thumped Kelso 31-0 on Thanksgiving Day. Hecker set the tone for the game when he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Hecker rushed for 1,200 yards and led the conference in scoring as a senior. He received the Inspirational Trophy from The Daily News, the Rotary Certificate of Fellowship, and the Johnny Hammer award as the best all-around athlete in his graduating class.

Hecker went on to play football at the University of Puget Sound, where he was moved from halfback to receiver. He graduated from UPS in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education and sociology, and later enrolled at Stanford University where he earned a Master’s degree in education, business, psychology and sociology in 1977.

Hecker taught social studies and coached football. He also owned and operated a weatherizing and insulation company, and worked in sales with Compaq Computers. He was a dedicated youth baseball coach for many years in the Seattle area, and was an active church youth group and Young Life leader.

Hecker died on Dec. 29, 2010.

Wallace (Wally) Holden (Class of 1937): A member of R.A. Long’s first swim team in 1932, Holden participated in his first meet in 1933. A self-taught swimmer, Holden won numerous meets culminating with a state championship in the 100-yard freestyle in record time of 58.8 seconds, a mark which still stands.

After graduation, Holden swam at the University of Washington before he joined the U.S. Navy at the start of World War II.

Holden began participating in Master’s level swimming in 1978, and after a few years set his first national records in the short course and long course 100 butterfly. He has since set age-group records in nearly every swim stroke during Master’s competition.

In 2004 at age 85, he earned the distinguished USMS Pool All-Star Award for the most top times (17) in his age group. Holden currently holds eight national or world records, and has held the national record in the men’s 80- 84-year-old short course 100 butterfly since 1999.

Willard (Wink) Lamb (Class of 1941): A four-year letterman in swimming, Lamb won the 220-yard freestyle in 1938 and 1940, and was a member of the 1939 state championship team.

After high school, Lamb attended the University of Washington and swam on numerous conference-record relay teams. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, and served as a paratrooper in the 11th airborne, 511th regiment in the South Pacific until 1946.

After stints as a longshoreman and in construction, Lamb worked for Linnton Plywood in North Portland for 51 years before retiring in 2002 at age 80.

Lamb returned to swimming in 2005, and has competed nationally in the 80- 84-year-old and 85-89 age groups. He holds 30 national record certificates, 10 world record certificates, and is the 85-90 freestyle world record holder in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meter swims.

Kurt Matter (Class of 1969): Matter lettered in football, basketball and track. He earned all-league honors in football and basketball, and was a member of the 1967 “Red Mob” football team.

Matter later attended the University of Washington, where he earned three varsity letters in football and started every game following the third week of his sophomore season. An All-Pac-8 selection as a junior and senior, he was named to the All-Coast team as a senior, and was selected to play in the 1973 Hula Bowl.

Matter was picked by the Los Angeles Rams in the 15th round of the 1973 NFL Draft. He later played for the Portland Storm and Portland Thunder of the World Football League during the 1974 and ‘75 seasons.

From 1975-93, Matter was owner/operator of Rickey Creek Orchard in Kettle Falls, Wash. He also served on the Kettle Falls School Board from 1984-96, and as the Kettle Falls School District Superintendent from 1997-99. Matter was named Educator of the Year by the Northeast Washington Superintendents Association in 1999.

Roberta Mawae (Class of 1987): A three-year letter winner in track and volleyball, Mawae won state championships in both sports during her Lumberjill career.

Mawae won the shot put at the state track championships, and set school records in the shot put (42-11 3/4) and javelin (146-9).

In volleyball, she was the Greater St. Helens Conference Most Valuable Player as a junior and senior, was a member of the 1984 and ‘85 state championship teams, and was named to the Team Northwest traveling team which played in China.

Mawae lettered four years in volleyball at the University of Portland, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She has worked in the social service for the last 20 years, and has also coached volleyball at Mark Morris, Beaverton and Kauai (Hawaii) high schools, and at Monticello Middle School.

Richard (Dick) Peters (Class of 1950): A three-year letterman in wrestling, Peters also wrestled one year with the Tacoma YMCA while attending Lower Columbia Junior College.

Peters transferred to the University of Washington, where he was a three-time intramural champion at 123 and 130 pounds. He also competed for the Husky Club team in 1954 where he placed second in the Pacific Northwest AAU Championships.

In 1955, Peters helped organize collegiate sanctioning for varsity wrestling at UW, the first time the school had the sport since 1941. He wrestled as team captain in 1955 and ‘56, and was runner-up in the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Wrestling Championships. Peters also competed in the 1956 Pacific Northwest Olympic Trials, and graduated from UW the same year with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Forestry.

While serving the U.S. Army for two years, Peters coached and wrestled for the 558th Missile Battalion in Europe, and won the All-Armed Forces Europe Championship in 1957.

Peters organized the Southwest Washington Wrestling Officials Association in 1959, and merged with the Lower Columbia Officials Association in 1961. He served 20 years as a high school and intercollegiate wrestling referee, and officiated at three state high school championship tournaments in Washington and Oregon.

He worked for 19 years for Weyerhaeuser as Wood Products General Manager at five locations.

After 33 years in the forest products industry, Peters retired in 1991. He continues as owner/operator of a family tree farm in the Longview area.

Mike Polis (Class of 1968): The quarterback of the 1967 “Red Mob” football team, Polis was a three-year letterman in football, basketball and baseball.

Polis was the starting point guard in basketball as a junior and senior, earning all-conference honors.

After graduation, Polis earned two letters apiece in basketball and baseball at Lower Columbia College. He led the basketball team to a runner-up finish in the conference tournament as a sophomore, and was placed on the all-tournament team. Polis also led the baseball team to a second-place finish in the conference tournament as a freshman and state championship as a sophomore.

Polis was a two-year letterman in baseball and basketball at Central Washington State College, and was named to the all-Pacific Northwest Tournament team as a senior. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Central, and a Masters degree in Education from the University of Portland.

After coaching baseball and basketball at Omak High in central Washington, Polis returned to Longview to teach at R.A. Long and coach men’s basketball at Lower Columbia College from 1980-89. He also served as baseball and basketball coach at RAL, and was twice selected to coach Longview teams in the Babe Ruth World Series.

Polis played fastpitch softball for 25 years with teams based in Longview, Portland, Yakima and Seattle, and competed in seven International Softball Congress world tournaments.

Greg Price (Class of 1974): A three-year letterman in football, basketball and track, Price was one of the better three-sport athletes to come out of RAL.

In football, Price was an all-City and all-Southwest Washington Conference pick, and earned the team’s Johnny Hammer award as a senior. In basketball, Price led the Lumberjacks to the 1973 district tournament title while landing a spot on the all-Southwest Washington Conference team. In track, he qualified for the district meet three times in the hurdles, high jump and relay.

Price attended Pacific Lutheran University and played three sports. He lettered four years in football and was named all-conference as a senior, and was a three-year letterman in track. Price was co-champion in the high jump at the Northwest Conference meet.

Price graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education, and was named the Lower Columbia Sportsman of the Year in 1978. He has worked for Novartis Pharmaceutical and Dendreon Pharmaceutical companies.

Larry Rhodes (Class of 1951): A three-year football letterman, Rhodes was named co-Captain as a senior while earning all-Southwest Washington Conference and all-state honors.

Rhodes attended the University of Washington, where he lettered three years in football. He received the Flaherty Inspirational award as a senior, and graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Rhodes went to work for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in retreading and sales, and held positions in Long Beach and Oakland, California, Reno and Albuquerque. He later worked for an independent tire company, and opened his own tire company in 1964.

Rhodes owned his company for 40 years before selling it to an employee. He remains on staff as an employee, and implemented an exchange program with local high schools for work experience in tire service and auto mechanics.

Tom Spellmeyer (Class of 1968): A three-year letterman in football and track, Spellmeyer was a member of the 1967 “Red Mob” football team.

Spellmeyer was an all-Southwest Washington Conference safety in football, was district champion in the 120 and 180 hurdles in track, and placed third in the 120 hurdles at the state championships. His time in the 120 hurdles (14.6 seconds) is a school record which still stands.

Spellmeyer studied at Whitworth University, where he lettered in football and track.

An employee of the Longview School District, Spellmeyer has worked as a paraeducator in special education for 12 years. He’s also served as an assistant football and baseball coach at RAL, has coached football at Monticello Middle School, and as an activity supervisor at RAL basketball games.

Steven Vogel (Class of 1968): A three-year letterman in football and basketball, Vogel also earned two letters in tennis and one in track. In football, he was a member of the 1967 “Red Mob,” received all-Southwest Washington Conference honors, and earned the team’s Johnny Hammer award as a senior.

He earned numerous team awards in basketball, and was a member of the record-setting 1600 relay team in track.

Vogel enrolled at Grays Harbor College, where he played football and basketball, and led the Chokers to the state community college football championship. He later transferred to Boise State College (now University) where he was a two-year starter on the defensive line, and earned third-team All-American honors as a senior.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1973, and earned a master’s in education administration in 1987 from the University of Idaho. Vogel served as a graduate assistant in football at Boise State during the 1972 and ‘73 seasons, and taught the next two years at Sunset High in Beaverton. From 1974-2005, he taught at Capital High in Boise and coached baseball, football and track.

Vogel works at Titan Property Management.

Robert Ericksen (Class of 1963): During his three years at RAL, Ericksen served as student body president, vice president, class president, and lettered in basketball and baseball.

He excelled in the classroom as a National Merit finalist, and later earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Pacific Lutheran University. Ericksen continued his education with a master’s degree from State University of New York-Stony Brook, and a doctorate from the London School of Economics at the University of London.

Ericksen wrote his first book “Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch,” which influenced a new direction in German church history. The book has since been translated into German, Dutch and Japanese, and was the subject of a documentary film by the same name in 2005.

He has taught at Willamette University, Cedar Crest College (Pennsylvania) and Olympic College in Bremerton, and has served visiting professorships at Stanford University and the University of Puget Sound. Ericksen has served as professor of history at Pacific Lutheran University since 1999, and sits as the Kurt Mayer Chair of Holocaust Studies at PLU.

Dr. Clinton (Clint) B. Sayler (Class of 1950): A fascination with medicine since childhood led Sayler to a career in research and treatment.

A 1954 graduate of the University of Washington in pre-medicine, Sayler enrolled at the Stanford School of Medicine where he graduated in 1958. He completed his residency at the Public Health Service Hospital at Johns Hopkins University, and earned a master’s degree in public health there.

Sayler served as a lieutenant-commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, and later served as chief of radiology at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Seattle. Later, he practiced radiology as a partner in Radiology Consultants focusing his work at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland.

He retired in 1995, but continued to volunteer at a cancer hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Sayler was also a guest and lecturer of the Chinese Ministry of Health. He was a member of the Oregon Medical Association, Radiological Society of the Pacific Northwest and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Sayler was an acknowledged expert in the field of mammography. He authored or co-authored many studies in that field, and was responsible in 1973 for developing the mechanics of marking breast lesions. He was also instrumental in the establishment of one of the first breast cancer centers in the Portland area.

Dr. Sayler died from heart disease on July 21, 2009.

1939 swim team: The ‘39 team capped an undefeated season with a state championship, a feat unmatched by any other RAL swim squad.

The team practiced and competed at the YMCA’s old 20-yard pool because the high school pool wasn’t completed until 1940. The Mermen, as they were called, defeated Stadium and Lincoln high schools of Tacoma, and Aberdeen, Everett, Vancouver and Port Angeles high schools. The team won four events and set two records at the state meet.

Team members were Guy Anderson, Cy Bowers, Harvey Culbertson, Walt Dibble, Bill Gaudette, Mel Johnson, Millard Lamb, Willard (Wink) Lamb, Louie LeMuiex, Kozuo Ono, Ray Wakefield and Jack Wilson. Sulo (Si) Saari was the coach, and John Erickson was the faculty advisor.

1952 football team: The 1952 team, coached by Buck Hammer and Russell “Tiz” Miller, compiled a 9-1 record, falling only to Aberdeen.

The team set three records and tied another during the campaign. Two records were set against Vancouver when the Jacks scored 57 points and won the game by 50 points.

RAL also scored a conference-record 215 points in six games (35.8 points per game average), topping the old record of 158 set by Vancouver in 1941. The Jacks also tied the combined score mark of 64 points in the Vancouver game.

Eight players were named to the all-conference teams. First-team honors went to Gary Earnest, Gene Grumbois, Howard Hartshorn and Chuck Marsh. Dick Day, John Masterson, Dale Smith and Dallas Vestal were named to the second team, and LeRoy Nelson received honorable mention kudos.

Other team members were Bob Anderson, Don Armstrong, Bob Austreng, Bill Baker, Chuck Barrett, Vernon Bergquist, Rene Bertheau, Bill Campbell, Ken Chisholm, Terry Christian, Bob Clark, Bob Davis, Sonny Estes, Roy Hagel, Jim Handy, John Hastings, Wally Hazen, Frank Hickman, Bill Kendrick, Wayne Lee, Jack Luther, Dick Mackey, Jim Martinovich, Ron Monroe, Lyle Peterson, Jim Reichstein, Dick Robinson, Roy Shill, Harry Shuler, Chuck Slater, Stan Sparks, Curtis Strong, Jerry Tinker, Pat Trotter, Larry Wall, Ken White and Bob Willis.

Team managers were Darold Crawford, Arnold Goldberg, Tom Peterson and Tom Riffe.