Three inductees, plus one posthumous induction, were honored as new members of the Commerce Independent School District’s Hall of Honor at a special luncheon held Friday in Commerce.
The Hall of Honor, since being created in 2010, now has 40 total members, ranging from former educators and administrators to alumni who have had successful, influential and noteworthy careers after graduating from Commerce ISD.
This year’s inductees were Carolyn Brown Burt, Kristin Barker Hames, Medley Wilson and Wade Wilson, who was inducted posthumously.
Carolyn Burt is a 1955 graduate of Commerce High School. Following her time at CHS, where she was editor of the Tiger Tips newspaper, Student Council Secretary and more, she spent decades teaching and coaching at East Texas State University (now-Texas A&M University-Commerce). She started the women’s volleyball program at the university, and coached the women’s track and field team. She was inducted into the A&M-Commerce Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000.
Accepting her award, Burt recalled her time growing up in Fairlie, north of Commerce, and attending the old Fairlie school up until high school, where she would the begin taking the bus to Commerce.
“My four years at Commerce High School were remarkable to me,” Burt said. “I learned something new every day.”
Before teaching at ETSU, Burt spent two years at CHS as an English and physical education teacher, saying that she has vivid memories of teaching high school.
“We would have problems with students chewing gum in the gymnasium, which was not allowed,” Burt said. “I remember that nothing worked better than a good, swift whack on the posterior. The students didn’t chew gum after that.”
Hames is a 1996 graduate of Commerce High School and is the youngest-ever inductee into the Hall of Honor. At CHS, Hames was a drum major, cheerleader, softball player and thespian. She received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a master’s from Southern Methodist University, both in music education.
She is currently the Director of Bands at Hill Country Middle School in Austin and has directed several successful bands receiving superior ratings at contests, as well as being named “Outstanding Young Bandmaster” by Phi Beta Mu in 2008.
Hames said that teaching was far from the first thing she wanted to do growing up, coming from a family of educators. She says that when interviewing for her first job, she was asked what she thought was the most important profession.
“At first I was going to say something like a doctor, but then at that moment it hit me: ‘Who trains the doctors?’” Hames said. “I understood the importance of a teacher, and from that point on I knew that it was what I had to do.”
She said that she “found the place where [she] belonged” after joining band at Commerce Middle School, and that the people of CISD made her who she is today.
“I was always encouraged to branch out and do as much as I could,” Hames said. “I mean, I was allowed to take batting practice with the baseball team since band and softball were at the same time. I think that helped me make the All-District team since I was hitting faster pitches.”
“CISD influenced me in ways that I could not imagine,” Hames continued.
Medley Wilson is a 1976 graduate of CHS. While there, he played on the Tiger boys basketball team. After receiving a degree in auto mechanics from Henderson County Junior College. he was a Commerce firefighter for two years before starting a career at L3 in Greenville, where he still works today.
Medley Wilson would mentor youth, opening up the old Norris school gym, as well as his own home, regularly to play basketball with area children. He is also a former CISD Trustee, serving from 2006 to 2012.
Medley Wilson kept his comments brief, saying that it was an honor to see so many people who shaped his life in attendance.
“I have had kids that used to play basketball when I would open the gym come to me and say how influential that was, that I helped them stay out of trouble,” Wilson said. “I had no idea that what I did would have such an impact.”
Wade Wilson was a star quarterback for the CHS Tigers in the 1970s, leading his team to a district championship his senior season in 1977. He went on to play at East Texas State, leading the Lions to the National Semifinals in 1980. He was drafted by the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings in 1981, and played for several teams up until 1998.
Wade was voted into the Pro Bowl in 1988, and was a part of the Dallas Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XXX as the backup quarterback. After retiring from football, Wade had a 17-year career as a coach with the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys.
Wade Wilson passed away on Feb. 1, 2019. Accepting the award on his behalf was his father, former CHS coach, Principal and fellow Hall of Honor inductee, Charlie Wilson.
Charlie said that Wade “wouldn’t have wanted to say much at the podium, but I know he would be appreciative of the honor.”
Charlie shared a number of humorous stories and anecdotes about Wade’s life and love of the game of football.
“Somebody once said that he must have been born with a football in his hands and that he didn’t put it down until he retired,” Wilson said. “I’d have to say that’s about right.”
Charlie added that Wade would often use his time to give back, and that he never went back on his word.
“I know that if he had never thrown a football in his life,” a tearful Wilson said. “I would still be proud of the man he became.”
The inductees were recognized at the CHS Homecoming Pep rally later Friday afternoon, as well as during festivities before Commerce’s football game against Kemp Friday night.