Several athletes, three boosters and three teams were inducted into the Dayton ISD Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, June 12, at a special ceremony at the Performing Arts Center at Dayton High School.
As emcee for the event, Larry Wadzeck, a former Dayton ISD trustee, introduced the inductees and shared their achievements that earned them a spot in the prestigious Hall of Fame.
“The people you see when you visit the museum that have their pictures on the wall, including the men and women we are inducting today, are not only great athletes, they are great people,” Wadzeck said. “That’s what we want at the museum. We want the museum to be a place where present and future athletes can go and see the men and women who excelled, not only at athletics but as people. They went out and took care of business and gave back to the community in all sorts of ways.”
Wadzeck said that being recognized in the hall of fame is a “valentine” to the athletes from the school district.
“This is basically a small way for this community to say thank you to you. A thank you not just for the many hours of excellence and athletic ability that you displayed, and for which we watched and cheered, but for the way you represented yourself and your family in the public, and represented this community as a whole,” he said. “We are proud of you. We are proud of your accomplishments.”
This year’s inductees are:
BOYD AND PATSIE ARNOLD
“The alpha and omega on our list are our outstanding Bronco supporters,” said Wadzeck.
Patsie Arnold was there to represent both herself and her late husband, Boyd.
In 1946, Boyd Arnold, then 15, moved to Dayton, Texas, and joined the Bronco football team. Patsie moved to Dayton when she was 9 months old. Her parents were avid Broncos fans. Wadzeck shared that Patsie’s mother became enraged about a newspaper article that ran in the Vindicator many years ago that she believed disparaged the Broncos after defeated the Liberty Panthers.
“It was a come to Jesus letter. Nothing was left unsaid. She took the editor to task in about a two-page letter. It’s probably one that a number of Bronco fans would have been happy to sign over the years,” Wadzeck said.
The love of the Broncos was passed down to Patsie, who Wadzeck said still bleeds purple. He joked that in the retelling of old games, athletes should take care not to exaggerate their claims.
“This lady knows every play. Keep it at least in bounds,” he said.
Will Bowers excelled at Dayton High School in two sports – football and powerlifting. In powerlifting, he was a two-time state qualifier. In his senior year, he placed second in state in his weight category.
In football, he was a four-year letterman, earning All-District honors.
“Coach Stewart told me that he was a big man who could run fast and to get out of his way,” Wadzeck said with a chuckle.
After high school, Bowers played for Stephen F. Austin University where he was a starter in the backfield. He now coaches and works with young people at Kaufman ISD.
“All of us in Dayton know you couldn’t have picked a better young man or a better example of talent and character to lead young people,” Wadzeck said.
Bowers is the second member of his family to be inducted into a sports hall of fame. According to Wadzeck, Bower’s wife, Melanie, was inducted into her high school sports hall of fame at Kaufman ISD a couple of years ago.
GLENNA CARMACK HARDING
A Bible verse from Isaiah 40:28-31 accompanied the inductee nomination form for Glenna Carmack Harding. The verse states, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”
“That’s a pretty apt description of Glenna – a young lady of faith and an outstanding Dayton Bronco athlete,” Wadzeck said.
Harding was a three-sport letterman at Dayton High School. She played varsity basketball for two years but it was in cross country and track where she excelled. She was a four-year letterman in both.
In cross country, she was a member of four state-qualifying teams, one of which also was inducted at the June 12 ceremony. In track, she ran the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races. She won multiple district and regional championships and qualified for state in the 1,600-meter dash and the 3,200-meter dash.
In 1997, Track and Field magazine named her to the All-State track team. After graduating as valedictorian from Dayton High School, she went on to Samford University in Alabama on a track scholarship. After being sidelined by injuries, she earned a bachelor of arts degree in English literature at the University of Houston.
Today, she and her husband, Aric, are parents to seven children. Glenna’s full-time job is homeschooling them.
In high school, Rondell Durio was called a one-man press-breaker in basketball. In football, he was known as Mr. Everything. In basketball, this press-breaker earned All-District honors during his sophomore, junior and senior years. He also was named Newcomer of the Year his sophomore year. Durio earned All-Region honors during his junior and senior years. As a senior, he was named to a number of All-State teams in Class 4A. He was also the captain of the Broncos basketball team.
In football, he was named All-District in his sophomore, junior and senior years. In his senior year, he earned first team honors on offense, defense and special teams. As a senior, Durio was team captain of the football team and was named to All-Region and All-Area teams.
He earned a scholarship to Northwestern State University in Louisiana where he started on three conference championship teams. After graduation, Durio moved back to Dayton where he works for Exxon and helps coach youth sports in the community.
“When I first talked to Mike about his selection to the Hall of Fame, he wanted to make sure that everyone in Dayton knew something – that he lives in Barbers Hill and that he cheers and roots for his children with all of his heart because he loves them. He is not cheering for Barbers Hill,” said Wadzeck, getting several laughs from the audience. “He said it’s for his kids, and his kids only, and that he’s a Bronco for life.”
Mabry was a four-sport letterman, earning 11 varsity letters. In powerlifting, he was a regional qualifier. In basketball, he was the team captain his senior year. In track and field, he was a member of the district championship team his senior year. While he was good at sports in general, it was football where he excelled. He was a three-year letterman, captain during his senior year, earned first team All-District in offense and defense his junior and senior year. He was an All-Area and All-Region during his junior year and All-State his senior year.
“After starting his college career at Stephen F. Austin University, he transferred to the University of Central Florida where he played football his junior and senior years there. He was a team captain his senior year and was an All-Conference defensive lineman. He was named Offensive Line MVP and was the first offensive lineman from the University to be drafted into the NFL. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens but also saw time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons. In 2005, he played football in NFL Europe. From 2006-2008, he was a member of the Philadelphia Soul football team,” said Wadzeck.
Back in the 1980s, when Wadzeck drove a school bus for Dayton ISD, one of his fellow drivers was Mrs. Agnes Payne.
“Besides being an excellent driver and a great gumbo cook, Agnes let us know all about her young grandson. We knew how many hits he got in baseball, how many points he scored in basketball and how many touchdowns he made in football. She always said, you just watch. He’s going to be something special,” Wadzeck said. “Mrs. Agnes was right. That young grandson, Brandon, was a three-year letterman in basketball for the Broncos, but he really excelled in football where he was also a three-year letterman.”
In football, he earned All-District honors on defense and All-Region honors, was named District MVP his senior year and was named to several state teams. After graduation, Brandon played football at Blinn Junior College before transferring to the University of New Mexico where he started on defense for the Lobos.
He also was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. For the last decade, Payne has dedicated his talents to coaching at the high school and college levels. He is a coach at a junior college in Arizona where he seeks to serve as a positive role model to young athletes.
The year 1998 was a magical football season for the Dayton Broncos. The team went 10-0 in Bi-District, beating Port Neches-Groves at Cardinal Stadium in Beaumont.
Wadzeck, who helped with radio sports reporting for the Broncos at the time, remembers being slightly bullied in the press box at the Bi-District game by the PNG crew. They reportedly told him that they had been looking at Dayton’s record and weren’t impressed by the teams they had beaten.
“They said, ‘You really haven’t played anyone this year,” Wadzeck recalls.
At the kickoff, PNG took possession of the ball and scored a touchdown.
“I don’t know if it was one of two plays later, but there was Dakarai Pearson. He was down the far sidelines, and 97 yards later, he was in the end zone. PNG was in our rearview mirror the rest of the game. We looked at each other and said, ‘When the Dak is in the house, we don’t have any problems.’ That’s the way it was that season. He was a man among men that year,” Wadzeck said.
As a junior, Pearson was All-District in both offense and defense. That junior season was a precursor to an outstanding senior year. He was one of four finalists for outstanding 4A football in the state. Pearson was All -District quarterback, district MVP and district offensive player of the year as he led the Broncos that year to a 12-1 record. The one loss was to Lamarque by missing a touchdown.
“It was a great record and great season for the Broncos. He was All-Area and All-State quarterback. He was a standout among many great players on that team,” Wadzeck said. Pearson played football for the University of Texas where he played in the defensive secondary for the Longhorns. He had nine career interceptions and was a punt returner. After graduation, he played for Washington Senators and Seattle Seahawks before injuries ended his professional athletic career.
Lehman Rahn’s brother, Leon, was inducted into the DISD Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. From sports to joining the military, the two brothers’ lives seemed to run parallel.
Lehman Rahn was All-District lineman for the Broncos in 1932 and 1933. He was a member of the first Dayton Broncos District Championship Team in football in 1931.
As Dayton had an off and on love affair with baseball at the time, there were no high school teams playing the sport. So, Lehman and Leon played for the city teams that were in existence at the time.
After graduating from Dayton High School, Lehman attended Lamar Junior College before transferring to Texas A&M. He graduated from college in 1941 and was drafted into the Army Air Corps where he served until the end of the war. He was called back to the Air Force in 1948 for the Korean War and decided to make the Air Force his career. In 1965, he retired from the military, having served in World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Lehman and his brother moved to California in the later years of their life, dying two years apart in the 1990s.
BETTY ROBERTS PERRY
Like Rahn, Betty Roberts Perry also had a brother, Gene Roberts, who was inducted into the DISD Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
In volleyball, Perry was a three-time All-District and All-Regional player. She helped lead the Broncos to a district championship her senior year and was named District MVP. In track and field, Perry ran on the 400- and 800-meter relay teams, winning multiple district championship. In track and field events, she excelled in long jump and triple jump, but it was a new event – the 330-yard hurdle – that earned her district and regional titles. She also earned a sixth-place finish at state during her junior year.
Perry graduated from Lamar University with a business degree and has worked in the oil and gas industry for the last 25 years.
CALVIN RAY STEVENS
“There is a saying around DHS – it’s a great day to be a Bronco. Even though our next inductee graduated in 1939, he would wholeheartedly endorse that saying every day. He was described as a friendly and dependable youth. You could always count on Ray. In his high school yearbook, he was called ‘that little guy,’ which might be misleading because Ray was an outstanding Bronco athlete,” said Wadzeck.
Stevens was a two-time letterman on the Bronco basketball team and a two-time letterman and two-time All-District center on the football team. He also was the captain of the 1938 Bronco football team.
“Within two years of graduation, war broke out. Ray, like thousands of other young men, chose to enlist in the Navy where he was assigned to the USS Boise. On the eve of Oct. 12, 1942, the Boise engaged with other US ships in the Battle of Cape Esperance. They were intercepting Japanese ships and trying to reinforce the Guadalcanal,” Wadzeck said.
During battle, Stevens and many of his mates were killed. The next morning, he was buried at sea. He was the first Dayton servicemen to lose his life during World War II.
“It’s an honor for me to induct a true American hero into the Hall of Fame. This is a young man who gave up all of his tomorrows so we can have all of our tomorrows,” said Wadzeck. His comments were followed by a standing ovation in Stevens’ honor.
“Anne was described by her coach as a young lady with an over-the-top bubbly personality. When you ask someone to tell you about Anne, they say she was good. She was more than all right. Anne was a super athlete where she was a two-time All-District basketball player for the Lady Broncos. It was in track where Anne had her greatest successes, specifically in two field events – the triple jump and the high jump. She earned multiple district championships in both events and also regional championships,” said Wadzeck. “She was a four-time state qualifier. She placed third in state in the high jump in Class 4A. She is an outstanding young lady.”
GENE TENNISON II
In Gene Tennison II’s senior high school yearbook, he is quoted as saying, “The words I live by are never give up and you will always be a true winner. I plan to succeed in whatever field I enter.” That statement defines not only Gene’s athletic career but his life, said Wadzeck.
At DHS, he lettered in basketball, track and field, and football. He was a multiple district champion and regional qualifier in shot put and discus. In football he was a mainstay on the Bronco line. During his senior year, he was named co-district MVP.
After graduation, he played on the collegiate level for Northwestern State University, where he was a three-year starter. In his sophomore year, he was named second-team All-Conference guard and he also excelled in track and field. He earned numerous awards, not only in sports but in academics.
In 2009, he was named one of the top 100 football players in Northwestern’s football program existence. He continued his education and athletic career in track and field at the University of Houston. In 2020, Gene was named a finalist to the N Club, which is Northwestern’s version of the Hall of fame.
LESTER RAY WISEGERBER
“When I called Lester Ray to tell him that he was being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame, it just happened to be on his 90th birthday. I did some figuring and that meant that he was born in 1931, the same year that the Dayton Broncos won their first district championship,” said Wadzeck.
Inducted as a Broncos supporter, Wisegerber also was a Dayton Broncos athlete – a starter running back for the Broncos in the 1940s. He continued his support for the Dayton Broncos as a member of the Dayton ISD school board in the 1970s. Lester Ray was always there lending his support, putting in many years with the athletic booster club.
In the 1990s, he was part of a group, including Wadzeck, Alan D. Conner, John Simmons, Bob Edwards, Bubba Toler and Frosty Pruitt, that started talking about creating a sports hall of fame and museum. It was put on the back burner for several years until Dayton ISD got involved.
“Lester Ray served on this board for the first two years of its existence, and we still call on him for information about past Broncos or past Bronco games,” Wadzeck said.