Between Friday night basketball games last week, the first four members of the Aurora Houn' Dawg Alumni and Outreach Center Hall of Fame -- Ken Ackley, Fred Baum, Eugene "Poss" Jackson and the late Ed Cook.
The purpose of the Hall of Fame/Legacy Award induction ceremony is to honor past graduates, coaches, educators, support staff, community leaders and Houn’ Dawg patrons who have made a lasting impact on the school and community.
The Charter Class was chosen on the basis of that criteria by members of the Alumni Center Advisory Board and the Aurora High School Leadership Class. Also taken into consideration were donations of time, resources and other forms of support as the Houn’ Dawg Alumni Center project was launched at the old armory site at 409 West Locust in the spring of 2016.
Future plans include a membership drive and a nomination process for additional Hall of Fame honorees. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list or join the Houn’ Dawg Alumni & Outreach Center Facebook page for additional information.
Ken Ackley is a legend in the Aurora community and beyond. Ackley was married to his wife, Pat, for over 58 years, had four children: Tina, Suretta, Chris and Jill. After a family tragedy, the Ackleys took in their nieces and nephews: Teri, Kimberly, Jimalea and Mike. Ackley says service and family are important. To his credit, he also has 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and “one on the way.”
In his teenage years, he worked for a local dairy to help his widowed mother put food on the table. Ackley would later serve his country in the United States Army. His strong work ethic has forged the way for numerous occupations based in construction, farming and entrepreneurship. Retirement came and Ackley just worked harder.
Ackley is the creator of the Veteran’s Memorial located at the entrance to Maple Park Cemetery in Aurora. He has hosted several ceremonies there to honor our veterans, police, firefighters and emergency response workers. He earned an honorary high school diploma in 2012.
Active with the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Aurora Lions Club and historical societies in Lawrence County and Aurora, Ackley works hard to protect, preserve and curate items of historical significance that help tell our stories.
Throughout his life, Ackley has spent his time giving back to his community. Service is an important aspect of Ken Ackley’s legacy. He believes in giving back “any way you can” and encourages others to follow suit. His life is one of hard work and service for the Aurora Community and beyond. We remain grateful for his character, grit and sacrifice. (Written by Breeana Hopper)
As a longtime teacher, coach and mentor, Fred Baum has impacted the lives of thousands. Baum is a die-hard lover of all things Aurora. He grew up tough on a 165-acre farm with a family of 10 and is a 1954 graduate of Aurora High School.
While in high school, he played trumpet in band and also played football, after convincing his parents he could keep up with both his chores and athletics. The 1954 team included the familiar names of Charles Spangler and Don King.
After graduation, he attended college at what was then Southwest Missouri State College. After college, Baum went on to teach Industrial Arts at Koshkonong, Pacific, Fordland and finally Aurora. He taught Industrial Arts and coached at Aurora for 22 years. He also stepped up to serve as senior class sponsor.
Fred Baum is a man who has always made a difference in the lives of his students, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He made sure each one was loved and included while they were in his presence. Renee, Dale, Michelle and Dani are testament to that, along with seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Baum has also worked as a model for Bass Pro and filmed outdoor television shows. He is known for raising his famous Baum’s Beagles and has been featured in numerous publications. He has been married to his wife Connie for over 38 years. One legacy he started was the Woodbutchers’ Follies Talent Show. The talent show has returned to the spotlight at AHS and will have its third showing this spring. (Written by AllyBrighton Grosenbacher)
Ed Cook was a coach, teacher, janitor, administrator and more. Cook was a hard working man. People knew what kind of man he was going to be from that day in 1926 when he was born on the kitchen table -- weighing in at 14 pounds.
Ed Cook played basketball at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He later joined the United States Navy at 17 and served in World War II. Cook came back and went to college at Southwest Missouri State, where he played basketball. Following graduation, he launched his career with coaching and teaching.
At Aurora, he was instrumental in forging the Special Education program to make sure all students, regardless of ability or disability, would receive a solid education during his stint as special education director. He wore a variety of hats in Aurora Schools and spent hundreds of hours teaching and coaching. He also worked in administration and could be found cleaning the armory at night and on weekends.
Wherever there was a need or a budget shortfall, Coach Cook stepped up to fill the gap time and time again as athletic director, transportation director and high school and junior high principal. He also planted several trees by the tennis courts at White Park that remain standing today as a tribute to his foresight.
His legacy also includes several years of basketball competition through the Ed Cook Basketball Tournament and the annual presentation of the Ed Cook Memorial Scholarship each spring. Ed Cook was a loyal Houn’ Dawg fan and always supported the teams, students, staff and community. Known for his sense of humor, he loved his nicknames of Curly Cook and Eddie Hog. He is on the Missouri State University Hall of Fame and has already been honored with Hall of Fame distinctions at Reeds Spring. The gymnasium at the old armory in Aurora bears his name as a tribute to a man who always made a difference.
Ed was married to his wife, Carolyn, for 43 years. They have three children: Chris, Curt and Sis Ann; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He died in 1989, but remains a colorful part of Aurora’s story. (Written by Jessica Bussard)
Eugene "Poss" Jackson
When it came to occupations in Aurora, Missouri, from 1962 to 1986 involving a whistle, a record player and a clipboard, Eugene “Poss” Jackson most likely had a part in it. Because of him, hundreds of people still know the lyrics to the “Chicken Fat” song and cringe as they recall the stamina it took to exercise your way through the recording. He coached basketball, track, golf and football and was part of the 1969 state championship entourage that put Aurora on the map. The players remain legendary -- and so does the coaching staff.
Jackson was born in Webb City on August 2, 1924, and was raised there until graduating high school in 1942. After graduation, Poss moved to San Francisco, California, where he joined the United States Navy in 1945. At the end of World War II, he returned to Missouri and went to Southwest Missouri State College, where he graduated in 1950. Poss then went on to coach and teach at Pierce City for nine years, West Plains for two years, and then Aurora for 24 years until his retirement in 1986.
Throughout his life, Jackson has earned numerous achievements and awards. Poss has earned honors for his time coaching and teaching in Pierce City and West Plains. He also received awards from the Missouri State Teachers Association and has been able to do the coin toss at the traditional Bell Bowl games between Aurora and Mt. Vernon.
He and his wife, Freda, were married for 65 years before her death in 2016. They had three children: Diana, Annette and Doug. He also enjoys his four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and makes his home in Mt. Vernon at the Missouri Veterans Home. His goal at Aurora was to help turn young boys into men of character, grit and determination. (Written by Luke Shoemaker)