Distinguished Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame inductees recognized at Homecoming 2014

Posted by Centre News in Alumni, News 29 Oct 2014

Distinguished Alumni 2014This year’s Homecoming celebration at Centre College was as memorable as ever, marked by the Colonels’ win over Rhodes College to maintain their undefeated football season and the return of nearly 1,000 alumni to commemorate their alma mater. Another highlight of the weekend was Saturday morning’s alumni recognition ceremony, during which the College honored five distinguished alumni and inducted two athletes and two teams into the Athletic Hall of Fame.
John Ortega

Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Shawn Lyons ’81 says that he always finds the ceremony very gratifying, and that this year was no exception.

“It’s so inspiring to see what these Centre alumni—the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and the Hall of Fame inductees—have accomplished and how grateful they are to the College for its role in their success,” says Lyons.

This year’s Distinguished Young Alumna Award went to Terena Elizabeth Bell ’99, founder and CEO of the groundbreaking translation company In Every Language. The business, which she recently moved from Louisville, Ky., to Washington, D.C., boasts a global network of more than 1,200 translators who provide services in over 180 languages. Bell was recognized as one of Business First’s Forty Under 40 in 2007 and she has won numerous other accolades for her entrepreneurial success. She has also written on issues of translation and business for several national publications and her creative writing has appeared in a variety of literary magazines.

Gary WrightKent Masterson Brown ’71 was named a Distinguished Alumnus for his work as an attorney, historian, author, documentary filmmaker, magazine editor, educator and preservationist. He owns the Law Offices of Kent Masterson Brown in Lexington, Ky., and has had an accomplished law career specializing in public policy. He has written six award-winning books on the history of the Civil War, with a seventh forthcoming in 2015, and has produced several historical documentary films on the Civil War, Henry Clay, Daniel Boone and bourbon. He was also appointed as the first chairman of the Perryville Battlefield Commission, where he led efforts to expand the size of the protected lands more than fifteen-fold.

James Roberston “Robb” Nash ’83 was also awarded the honor of Distinguished Alumnus for his dedication to serving the homeless in Nashville, Tenn. He received his master’s degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University and became certified as an acute care nurse practitioner. Nash has worked as a healthcare provider for the Campus for Human Development, Nashville’s largest charitable organization for the homeless; Vanderbilt’s Comprehensive Care Center, a clinic that treats patients with HIV/AIDS; as well as a number of other free clinics around the city. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. and has taught classes on poverty at Vanderbilt’s Divinity School and is heavily involved in implementing community-based solutions for fighting poverty.

women's basketballFor only the second time in the College’s history, an alumni couple was jointly honored as Distinguished Alumni. Ruth Conner Coy ’68 and James Tandy Coy III ’68 were recognized for their lifelong service to Centre and to the people of Central Kentucky, as well as for their commitment to historic preservation in Natchez, Miss. James Coy attended medical school at the University of Kentucky and worked as a highly respected orthopedic surgeon in Richmond, Ky. Ruth Coy earned her master’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky and taught in the Fayette County Schools and at the Model Laboratory in Richmond. As alumni, the Coys have served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Parents Committee and the Colonel Club. Most recently, the couple has been devoted to researching and preserving their historic home in Natchez, known as Bontura, as well as Ruth’s ancestral home, Green Leaves, both of which have been stops on the Natchez Pilgrimage spring and fall tours. They have also worked tirelessly for other civic and preservation organizations in Natchez.

In addition to honoring these remarkable alumni, the College recognized this year’s Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. Brad Fields ’98, director of athletics, led the Hall of Fame ceremony, which he “counts as a privilege.”

“As is the case each year, our newest Hall of Fame inductees are a phenomenal collection of people,” says Fields. “They represent all that is right with intercollegiate athletics at Centre College and remind me of the powerfully good impact this special place has on young people.”men's basketball

Just over 100 individuals have been inducted into Centre’s Athletic Hall of Fame since its inception in 1992 and joining them is John Ortega ’04, a three-sport athlete who became the first Colonel since 1952 to start in football, basketball and baseball. He received the Joe McDaniel Excellence Award and the Homer Rice Award in football and was named an all-SCAC team member multiple times in football and baseball as well as an all-SCAC tournament team member in basketball. Ortega currently lives in Lexington, Ky.

Gary Wright ’64 of St. Pete Beach, Fla., was also inducted for his athletic career at Centre as a four-year starter and letterman in both baseball and basketball. He was a member of Centre’s first NCAA tournament team in basketball, and served as baseball co-captain for two seasons. Thanks to his gifts to the athletic program, the baseball field now has a new playing surface, lights, fences and dugouts, and Wright has been a lead donor for the indoor practice facility currently under construction.

Finally, the 1988-89 women’s and men’s basketball teams were inducted for reaching the NCAA Division III Final Four in the same season. Centre was the first Division III school ever to achieve this distinction. Both teams also set records that still stand today, including most games played, best field goal percentages and most assists.

The ceremony also featured the presentation of the class reunion gifts from alumni celebrating their 25th and 50th reunions. The class of 1989 presented a check for $100,646 to the College, with $25,944 of that total designated for an endowed class scholarship fund. The class of 1964 gave $824,307, of which $592,363 will go toward an endowed scholarship fund for their class, the largest total ever received for that purpose.

by Caitlan Cole

Header photo: Distinguished Alumni, left to right: James Tandy Coy III ’68, Ruth Conner Coy ’68, Terena Elizabeth Bell ’99, James Robertson Nash ’81 and Kent Masterson Brown ’71.

Inset photos, top to bottom: John Ortega ’04; Brad Fields ’98 (left) and Hal Smith ’64 (right), accepting on behalf of Gary Wright ’64; members of the 1988-89 women’s basketball team; and members of the 1988-89 men’s basketball team.

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