Listen to the 50th Reunion Recording
Here's the audio track from the Saturday, October 23, 2010 program. It features memorable performances from eleven classmates, Vick Bost, Norman Church, Eddie Kesler, John Angell, Brock Smith, Kent Goodman, Wayne Page, Fred Pinkston, Brenda Styers Geist, Ott Pinkston, Bonnie Myers Benz, and Gary Edens, who was the emcee.
Click the names to go directly to their remarks
Vick Bost introduces the emcee, Gary Edens
Vick Bost. Stories of the Rocket Club of Boyden
Norman Church. Talks about how he ranked in his class
Eddie Kesler. A special thanks to all the girls of Boyden High School
John Angell. A few things he wished he had done in high school
Brock Smith. A tribute to his father, Eugene Smith, and other teachers at Boyden
Kent Goodman. Our class vice president with greetings from Hayden Simmerson
Wayne Page. Claims he was a slow learner
Fred Pinkston. An inspirational message from Father Fred
Brenda Styers Geist. A gripping personal story from 9/11 in the Pentagon
Ott Pinktson. A story of a fight in which his $250 hairpiece came off his head. If you need more visuals on this, Ott has given us permission to post this YouTube video of his routine
Bonnie Myers Benz. The always interesting Bonnie ends our program (crank up the volume as she wandered away from the microphone and worked the crowd during the middle of her remarks)
To listen to the complete reunion program, click here
To view these and more 50th reunion photos in higher resolution click here.
Published September 16, 2011
Friday Night Legend: Eddie Kesler
SALISBURY — There’s tough, and then there’s Eddie Kesler.
During a routine physical after his playing days, a doctor surprised Kesler with the question, “When did you break your collarbone? No, wait a minute, you broke it twice.”
“First I’ve heard about it, Doc,” Kesler said, and he wasn’t kidding.
Kesler ignored the pain of broken collarbones at UNC. Hurting was just part of the job description when you’re the lead blocker in a power running game.
The 10 broken noses he received during his career, he was aware of. It wasn’t hard to look in a mirror.
That arm he broke, he also knew about.
Kesler, a 1960 Boyden graduate and Rowan Hall of Famer, was one of the top athletes in local history. He held the career hoops scoring record for Boyden and Salisbury for 32 years before Bobby Jackson broke it. He was a superb baseball player, but football is what he was born for.
He came along at a golden time at Boyden, with Bill Ludwig coaching and George Knox, Bobby Crouch and Eddie Julian — all future college players joining him in the backfield. Kesler played tailback on offense in Ludwig’s single-wing and was essentially a cornerback on defense.
“Coach Ludwig was an icon,” Kesler said. “He was a control-type person, demanded respect — and deserved it. He knew football fundamentals, and he was able to teach them. He had the best eye I’ve ever known for seeing everything that was happening on a football field. He had vision second to none. If a play wasn’t working, he’d analyze it and analyze it until it worked.”
Boyden had won a 3A title for Ludwig in 1955. After dropping off to 6-3 in 1956, the Yellow Jackets began slowly in 1957, Kesler’s sophomore year, tying A.L. Brown and losing at Wilmington, which had Roman Gabriel firing passes, to slip to 1-1-1. Kesler picked off one of Gabriel’s passes.
“Knox was sick early that year and that hurt us,” Kesler said. “Gabriel didn’t dominate, but it was hot and muggy and we didn’t score when we needed to. But we did find out we could play with the Gabriels, and we started to come together.”
The Yellow Jackets didn’t have huge numbers for a 3A school, but they were loaded.
“We had talent, and Coach Ludwig was good at managing it,” Kesler said. “He kept everything in a team situation. We had no stars. Someone different stood out every Friday. Everybody had their night, and that worked well for us.”
Boyden slaughtered Charlotte Central right after the Wilmington setback and started to roll. The Jackets took seven straight to win the Western Conference.
They expected a rematch with Wilmington, but Fayetteville emerged as the Eastern champs and traveled to Salisbury to play for the title. Boyden flattened the visitors 21-0 in adverse weather conditions. Crouch, the lightning-fast wingback, broke two long scoring runs on reverses and rushed for 171 yards. Kesler plowed for 67.
“That game was all about the rain and the cold,” Kesler said. “Both teams had offenses that were kind of 3 yards and a cloud of dust, and that night, it was 3 yards and a cloud of mud. The difference was Crouch on those reverses. Knox took the snap, faked it to me, then gave it to Crouch coming around. On that field, once a defender took a step in the wrong direction, it was over.”
Kesler was All-State in 1958 and 1959 and All-America as a senior when he rushed for 912 yards and passed for 762. He set a school career total offense record of 4,199 yards that lasted until John Knox broke it last fall.
He captained the 1959 North Carolina Shrine Bowl team and played both ways.
He captained the West team in the 1960 East-West All-Star Game and was voted MVP. He played only defense the first half.
“Coach (Red) Wilson said there was a guy from Pisgah that Duke was there to scout, and he wanted him to play tailback the first half,” Kesler said. “Duke offered him a scholarship at halftime, so I played both ways in the second half.”
Kesler had pro baseball offers, but his father insisted that he get an education.
He decided on UNC, mostly because it was the state university, and became part of a deep talent pool that included future NFL stars Ken Willard, a running back, and Chris Hanburger, a center and linebacker.
Kesler was a major component in UNC’s magical 1963 season that culminated with a 35-0 rout of Air Force in the Gator Bowl. He scored a TD in that game.
The 215-pound Kesler and the 220-pound Willard both were essentially fullbacks, but coach Jim Hickey played them together, using as his model the lethal Green Bay Packers combination of Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor. Mostly, the gifted Willard, who also starred for UNC’s baseball team, piled up the yards. Kesler did the blocking.
Kesler was so good at what he did that ACC coaches voted him the The Jacobs Blocking Trophy, symbolic of the league’s best blocker. He was the first back ever to win the award.
Kesler played some on defense for UNC and picked off four passes. He also earned a place in school history in the final game of his career against Duke on Nov. 21, 1964.
“Duke’s defense was very spread out,” Kesler said. “Willard and I lined up as split backs and I carried as much as he did. On that day, we were both running backs.”
The Tar Heels rushed for 315 yards, including an astounding 172 by Kesler, who had 779 for his college career. Willard gained 107, marking the first time the Tar Heels had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. Kesler broke the single-game school rushing record that icon Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice had owned since 1946.
Kesler’s often-damaged nose led to health issues, but the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the 14th round and liked his future as a blocking fullback.
“But I’d finally gotten my nose fixed, and my doctors said I’d be stupid to play with it,” Kesler said. “I left after one game.”
Kesler’s life didn’t slow down much. There was a 6-0 tour as offensive coordinator for UNC’s freshman team, two years in Viet Nam as Lieutenant Kesler and a long career in the building business.
Kesler returned home last Friday, along with many of his 1957 teammates, and was honored at Ludwig Stadium as a champion.
Needless to say, he still looked tough.
Published October 31, 2010
Boyden Class of 1960
The Boyden High School Class of 1960 celebrated its 50th year anniversary with a reunion during the weekend of Oct. 22-23.
On Friday night, class members gathered at the Forest Glen clubhouse for barbecue and Cheerwine; on Saturday morning some members of the class played golf at the Crescent. On Saturday night, a dinner was held at the Country Club of Salisbury.
Tommy Yarbrough of Salisbury gave the blessing and Gary Edens of Paradise Valley, Ariz., was master of ceremonies. Others on the program were Vick Bost and Ott Pinkston, Salisbury; Norman Church, Ormand Beach, Fla.; Ed Kesler, Raleigh; John Angell, Winston-Salem; Brock Smith, Gastonia, Kent Goodman, Johnson City, Tenn.; Wayne Page and Fred Pinkston, Charlotte; Brenda Styers Geist, Southern Pines; and Bonnie Myers Benz, Pensacola, Fla.
Music was provided by Charles Rivers of Charlie’s Music Sounds.
Class members and guests attending from out of town were Michael Montgomery and Marian, McLeansville, Tenn.; Ron Poston and Elaine, Sunset Beach; Harold and Gloria Crook Newman, Madison; Alice Adcox Finch, Eleanor Jarrell Ray and Don, Linda Kelly Cline and Ned, Sally Riddle Marsh and Howdy, Greensboro; Nancy Alexander Mathis, Becky Earnhardt Efird and Woody, Wayne Page and Glenda, Fred Pinkston and Carolyn, Reid Tull and Barbara, Charlotte; John Angell and Judy, Winston-Salem; Karen Butler Saito and Roy,Don Kesler and Roberta, Matthews; Cynthia Rivers Shoaf and Tony, Lexington; Linda Sloop Nunalee and Thomas, Wilmington; Tom Rusher, Boone; Brock Smith, Gastonia; Bill Moser and Joy, Laurinburg; Linda Miller Price and Larry, Hillsborough; Ralph and Jerrie Chambers Dearborn, Liz Donnelly Ziglar and Dick, Ed Kesler, Brenda Williams McLean and Jerry, Raleigh; Sue Carter Walser, Statesville; Linda Thomas Shuler and Jim, Durham; Linn Waller and Jeanette, Peachland; Brenda Styers Geist and Gary, Southern Pines; Rusty Holshouser and Joan, Efland; Bob Mangum and Ann, Huntersville; Joan Gavron Price, Indan Land, SC; NancyLee Owen Martin, N. Charleston, SC; Ron Bassinger and Betty, Birmingham, Ala.; Norman Church, Ormand Beach, Fla.; Gary Edens and Suellen, Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Ron Evans and Connie, Crystal Springs, Miss.; Kay Fink Rabon and Tommy, Shreveport, La.; Kent Goodman and Gloria, Johnson City, Tenn.; Beverly Goodnight O’Hara and Hugh, Falls Church, Va.; Joel Hilliard and Pamela, Corpus Christi, Texas; Bonnie Myers Benz, Pensacola Fla.; John Newell and Bobbie, Kingsport, Tenn.
Attending from Rowan County were Rolland Bassinger and Diane, Gloria Bearden Schenk and Norman,Vick Bost and Bunni, Barbara Bowers Fox, Larry Bowyer and Karen, George Busby, Loretta Bulla Ennis, Ken Chambers and Brenda, Robert and Sally Gobble Chillcott, Frankie Cooper Kluttz and Paul, Alberta Crane Fernandez and Joe, Sam and Joan Day Nash,, Doug and Marsha Lamb Frick, Sylvia Godwin Fisher and James, Nash Isenhower and Valinda, Jim Kearns and Glenda, Tobey Lee, Linda Modlin Duke and John, Ott Pinkston and Julie, Jo Poole Ingram, John Sheehan and Connie,George Shuler and Sondra, Jane Shuping Corriher and Harry,Hayden Simmerson, Carol Stewart Nichols, Peachye Swicegood Kluttz, Tom Thurston and Anne, Lee Wallace and Mona, Carolyn Williams Hood and Perry, and Tommy Yarbrough and Peggy.
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