Remembering who we are

Wes Franklin
Neosho Daily News

As Neosho grows, it’s nice to see the community pay respects to its past. 

Most of you reading this probably know, but the “victory bell” at the Bob Anderson Football Stadium at Neosho High School was recently renamed in honor of former Wildcats head football coach Phil Young. Young coached the  varsity team from 1973 to 1988, and led them to seven conference championships. I’ve never met Coach Young, but my impression is that he had quite a positive influence on students. 

Not only was the victory bell renamed, but it was also refurbished and relocated to a brand new place of honor in the stadium. It looks very nice. When the spot was being built, with what seems to have been volunteer labor, I couldn’t figure out what was going there. Then one Saturday awhile back I saw Neosho High School teacher Dan Williams toiling away at it and I asked him. I’m glad the school district did that, and a big thank you to all the volunteers who made it happen. 

I like to see these nods to local people of our community’s past. 

Bob Anderson Stadium itself is named for former longtime school superintendent Robert W. Anderson, who served the Neosho district from 1938 to 1965. 

There there’s the Roy B. Shaver Baseball Field, named for Dr. Shaver, who was assistant superintendent of the Neosho School District for 21 years, from 1968 to 1989, and then  superintendent for seven, though you might want to ask Dr. Shaver to confirm those dates.

Benton Elementary is named for our former Congressman Maecenus Eason Benton (1848-1924), father of world famous artist and Neosho native son Thomas Hart Benton. Some folks may assume Benton is named for the son, but when the original Benton school was first built on Park Street in 1898, the younger Benton was just a child and his father was in Congress. 

The Neosho Airport is named for aviator Hugh Robinson (1881-1963) who was born and raised in Neosho and went on to invent the tailhook, which is still used on military jets for landing on aircraft carriers. 

Many of Neosho’s streets are named for local people, and I’ve written quite a bit on that before. There there is Crowder College, with most the buildings and landmarks there also named for local people. Space precludes me from naming them all. 

We take these things for granted, but they are important. When we know a little about the local people behind the names it subconsciously reinforces a pride of place, something I feel is lacking in today’s youth especially. 

So I’m glad the Neosho community continues to make the effort to remember local people of our past. It is part of remembering who we are. 

- Wes Franklin writes a weekly column, That History Guy, for The Neosho Daily News.