RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College will honor four exceptional individuals during this year’s Homecoming/Bevo Francis Weekend.
Homecoming/Bevo Francis Weekend will be held during the Nov. 9-11 weekend, and all alumni and area residents are encouraged to attend the different events and activities.
One highlight of the weekend will be the awards presented to four individuals for their outstanding accomplishments at Rio Grande. Those honored will include Clyde Evans, Debra Lynn, Diane Lewis and Steve Gilmore.
Evans, a former state representative, has had a long and productive career serving at Rio Grande in many capacities. During the Homecoming Weekend, he will be inducted into the Rio Grande Athletic Hall of Fame in recognition of his work as the Athletic Director.
A college baseball and basketball player as a student at Union College in Kentucky, and an all-state athlete in high school, Evans has always loved sports and understands the valuable lessons that students can learn while being a part of teams.
“I love being in the gym,” Evans said. As the Rio Grande Athletic Director, Evans oversaw the entire athletic department and worked closely with all of the coaches. He enjoyed meeting the students and helping them during his time on campus, and he made a big impact on the athletic program.
Evans also helped Rio Grande in countless other ways during his career, as he has served as a teacher and administrator, and held four different vice president positions. Currently, he serves on the Executive Committee for Rio Grande’s Board of Trustees. This dedicated public servant has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including being presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Rio Grande.
Another inductee into the Hall of Fame will be Diane Lewis, who also had an enormous impact on the athletic department.
Lewis coached several Rio Grande teams during her nine years on campus. In addition, she helped form some of the women’s sports teams and helped others grow.
“Before I got there, there was no volleyball program and no women’s track program,” Lewis said.
When she began working at Rio Grande in 1972, the university did not yet offer any scholarships for female athletes, and the women’s athletic program was run separately from the men’s program. Lewis helped the campus become compliant with the Title IX legislation that deals with equality in college athletics, and helped the athletic program in countless ways.
“I feel like I accomplished a lot in the time I was at Rio Grande,” Lewis said. “The programs that are there now are built on the foundation that we laid,” Lewis said. “We brought the program from obscurity to a force to be dealt with in the small college ranks.”
The Gallipolis resident is proud of the numerous victories won by her teams, and she enjoyed coaching at Rio Grande. She is now very pleased to be entering the Hall of Fame.
“It is a great honor for me to be recognized for the time I was there,” Lewis said.
Another Hall of Fame inductee will be Debra Lynn. A member of the cross country and track teams, Lynn was a two-time All-American, four-time All-American Scholar Athlete and the recipient of the Newt Oliver Outstanding Athlete of the Year Award in 1999.
“Debra Lynn is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life. She was all about the team. She would do whatever she could, not only to make herself a better runner but to make the team better,” said Coach Bob Willey.
Willey added that Lynn worked very hard to improve as a runner during her time on campus, and explained that her hard work led her to qualifying for national meets.
“She was well-liked by her teammates, and they all respected her,” he added.
Steve Gilmore, who is currently the superintendent of the Ashland Independent Schools in Ashland, Kentucky, will be honored as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year during the Homecoming Weekend.
A 1965 Rio Grande graduate, Gilmore played basketball for four years at Rio Grande and also played on the baseball and tennis teams during his time on campus. After graduating with a degree in secondary education, majoring in social science and minoring in English, Gilmore has spent his entire educational career in the Ashland Schools.
He has served as a teacher, high school basketball coach, principal, special education director, federal programs director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent for the school district.
He also served as a City of Ashland Commissioner for four terms and the Mayor of Ashland for 5 ½ years, leaving that position to take over as superintendent.
Rio Grande had a huge influence on his career, and Gilmore is proud to receive this award from the university.
“The honor of being selected as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year is a wonderful and rewarding recognition that I feel quite humbled by…. it is so significant to be honored by the school that meant so much to me as a student and as a professional educator in the years that followed,” Gilmore said. “The experiences at Rio both in the classroom with dedicated, committed instructors and representing the college on athletic teams helped to mold and shape my life for the years ahead.”
Gilmore credits Rio Grande with providing him with the varied experiences, quality education and overall college environment that were vitally important during a very important time in his life.
“My growth, development and successes are directly related to the many positive aspects that Rio afforded me as an athlete, as a student and as a person,” Gilmore said.
For more information on Rio Grande’s Homecoming Weekend or the alumni awards, call Alumni Affairs Director Annette Brown Ward at 1-800-282-7201.