For The Wetzel Chronicle
Seven former Blue Eagle student-athletes from four decades will be honored at the 29th annual Magnolia Athletic Boosters Life Achievement Awards Banquet.
The public event will be Saturday, Aug. 2, at Magnolia High School. A social hour starts at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets will be available at Witschey's in New Martinsville or from Banquet Chairman Brent Gamble at 304-455-3234.
The honorees, listed by graduation year and hometown, follow: David Mullett (1956) of Lake Charles, La.; James Burgbacher (1961) of Tucson, Ariz.; Debby Book Stewart (1970) of Raleigh, N.C.; Keith Thornton (1971) of Gainesville, Fla.; Thomas Jones (1972) of Morgantown, W.Va.; Larry Lemon (1974) of New Martinsville; and Kent Pilant (1991) of New Martinsville.
Here are capsule summaries of the honorees:
Mullett: He was a four-year football player, and three-year varsity letterman. The Blue Eagles went 7-3 in his senior season. He also competed in basketball two seasons and was a member of the Letterman's Club. He worked his entire career from 1957-2001 with PPG Industries starting at the Natrium facility as a research technician.
He resigned to attend West Virginia University, where he earned a mechanical engineering degree in 1965 before returning to PPG. In 1972, he started work in the new PPG Pittsburgh Corporate Supply Group and serviced Natrium and Lake Charles, La., where he finished his career from 1998-2001 as procurement manager.
Burgbacher: He was a four-year basketball player and a member of the school's first state championship squad, the 1961 Class-AA boys basketball team. He also competed two years in track and one year in baseball and was a two-year member of the National Honor Society.
After earning a B.A. degree from WVU, he graduated in 1969 with a Doctor of Medicine Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.
From 1973-94, he was in private psychiatry practice in Johnstown, Pa., and a staff member at Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital. From 1994-2007, he was in private practice in Danville, Va., and a staff member at Danville Regional Medical Center. Since 2007, he has resided in Tucson, Ariz., and served until 2012 as Medical Director of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care Systems.
Stewart: She was a four-year Blue Eagle cheerleader before enrolling at WVU, where she also served four years as a Mountaineer cheerleader and captain in 1973-74.
She graduated in marketing in 1974. Active in various fund raising events, she also has served as a cheerleading competition judge in West Virginia, Ohio, and New Jersey. She has worked in real estate, retail sales, and teaching while active in PTA and sports booster organizations. She is married to Ted Stewart, a past award honoree.
Thornton: He left his mark on his school, Ohio Valley, and state track in his two years at MHS after relocating from Corpus Christi, Texas. The current school record-holder in the pole vault, he became the first 14-foot vaulter in OV and West Virginia history and broke records in both state Class-AA meets with marks of 13-5 1/2 and 13-8 for the title.
He also won two OVAC titles and the prestigious Bellaire Relays crown. He also competed in football as a senior. He competed two years in track at WVU, where he graduated in mechanical engineering in 1976. He retired in February after 26 years with PCS Phosphate working in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, overseas in Jordan, and the last year as Vice President of Operations in Illinois.
Jones: He was a four-year Blue Eagle football and track athlete and was football team co-captain as a senior when he received the Gerald Hammel Award.
At Bethany College, he was a two-year football letterman and received a Mining Engineering Degree Cum Laude from WVU in 1978.
He has worked in the mining industry for 36 years and, since 2004, has been manager of engineering and environmental affairs for Arch Coal. Earlier, he worked for Chesapeake Energy, Zeni Drilling, and Amax Coal.
Lemon: He was a three-year Blue Eagle baseball player and also competed one year in basketball. A 1978 graduate in political science from the former West Liberty State College, where he was a dean's list student.
After serving eight years as an administrative assistant at West Virginia Northern Community College in New Martinsville, he worked 24 years as the 25-county northern area coordinator for U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller with a regional office in Fairmont.
A member of the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, he's active in several community organizations and was appointed to the Wetzel County Commission in January 2013.
Pilant: A four-year track and football competitor, he led the Blue Eagles to their first of 10 state Class-AA track titles in 1991 when he was state meet's top all-class scorer with 31 points.
He won three events including both hurdles - the 400 meters in record time, and the 200-meter sprint.
He continued his track efforts at Glenville State College, where he set school records in five events, including two relays and was named WVIAC Track Athlete of the Year and held NAIA All-America honors in 1995.
He was inducted earlier this year into the Glenville Athletic Hall of Fame.
He graduated in 1997 in health and accounting. He was on the Blue Eagle track coaching staff which won four state crowns from 1997-2006 and is currently employed by Mark West Energy.