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September 22, 2017

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MRH Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

Homecoming 2017 is the setting for the inductions of four new members to the MRH Hall of Fame.

John Howard Sanders was known to everyone simply as “Howdy.”  Mr. Sanders graduated in 1941 and served our country in the Marines during World War II.  After graduating from Miami of Ohio, he returned to his alma mater in 1954 as a teacher, coach, and athletic director. He stayed for more than 30 years, retiring in 1987.  Howdy loved the district, and loved the profession of teaching.  Students looked up to him for guidance.  He encouraged many of them, especially his athletes, to attend college.  Many former students will testify that Howdy Sanders was not merely a teacher and coach, but a father figure and confidant.  In retirement, he stayed in touch with other alumni at monthly breakfast gatherings and regular class reunions.  Mr. Sanders passed away on February 5 of this year, and is survived by his wife Shirley and two children, Cindy and Jeff. The first Howdy Sanders $1,000 scholarship was awarded this past May.

A member of the class of ‘65, Dr. Da-I Ping is one of the most respected and successful sports agents and trainers in the United States.  He was born in China at a time when communists were forcing entire families to flee for their lives.  His family ended up in Bangkok, then later in Taiwan, where they lived in extreme poverty.  At age 9, he survived a harrowing ship ride to the U.S. and was placed with an American exchange student with whom he had crossed paths back in Thailand.  “Jack,” as Dr. Ping was known back then, entered the 4th grade at West Richmond Elementary School, unable to read or speak English.  To support his foster mother, he sold newspapers at the corner of Big Bend and Dale.  Jack Ping willed himself to become a superior athlete on the football field, the wrestling ring, the track, and the ball diamond.  Immediately after graduating, Jack joined the Marines, where he again played football.  That led to a full scholarship to USC and ultimately, a prosperous career representing NFL players in contract negotiations.  Today, Dr. Ping has built an empire which includes teaching martial arts, overseeing scholarship funds, raising money for cancer and heart disease research, all from his headquarters in Saline, Michigan.

The landmark court case which William Douthit has championed for nearly a quarter-century changed the face of education all across the St. Louis region.  Mr. Douthit graduated with the MRH class of 1971 and eventually earned degrees in law and political science.  Little did he know, he would go on to represent the group of black parents and students who filed the now-famous St. Louis Schools Desegregation case just one year after his graduation.  His involvement in that lawsuit has allowed him to work with the community in opening dialogue that furthers the best interests of educational equity and social justice, while fostering new opportunities for student success. Mr. Douthit has held high-ranking posts with the Missouri Department of Education, the Normandy schools transition task force, the University of Missouri St. Louis, the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable, the U.S. Department of Education, the NAACP, the St. Louis County Children’s Fund, and countless other agencies.

John Hardy, much better known as Jay, is now marking 40 years at Jay B. Smith Funeral Home.  It is the quintessential family business, operating out of an 1890’s-era mansion which has been expanded and modernized over the years to preserve its beauty and charm.  Jay, a 1973 MRH graduate, has been a tireless supporter of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.  Examples of his generosity include donations of writing materials to the High School, financial support of the annual Trivia Night for the ECC and Elementary school, regularly advertising in yearbooks, book donations to the ECC, sponsorship of sports teams, and so much more.  He is a member of the Mid-County Chamber of Commerce and sits on two boards of directors for associations of funeral directors.  

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.