Celebrating a new standard for longevity in the Killeen Independent School District, a community honored James Al “Doc” Wilson on Tuesday for 55 years of service.
The school district’s board of trustees handed out awards for employees with 30, 35, 40 and 50 years of service.
Superintendent John Craft said Wilson “broke the mold,” requiring district leaders to consider an appropriate gift for 5½ decades of service.
After Wilson received congratulations from Craft and board members, the superintendent unveiled the gift — a large, framed portrait composed of three photos of Wilson representing different eras of his career as athletic trainer at Killeen High School.
The longtime coach and educator told the large crowd at the Killeen ISD Career Center that he “didn’t deserve all this.”
Back in 1961, the Killeen school district was growing quickly and with a second junior high school opening, athletic director Leo Buckley turned to Wilson, who had just graduated from Howard Payne University.
The coach at Howard Payne vouched
for Buckley’s integrity, Wilson recalled, so he took the job in Killeen. “I stuck with it,” the trainer said Tuesday in a customary understatement.
Wilson came on board as football coach at Rancier Junior High School, then located at 10th Street and Rancier Avenue in a building the school district now uses as an administrative annex.
He also taught business, driver’s education and health and was the first athletic trainer for the district’s only high school at the time.
At his hiring, Wilson was the only athletic trainer within a 100-mile radius of Killeen. The high school was located in north Killeen in what would eventually be Fairway Middle School, and the Roos played their games at the field on Rancier Avenue.
He remains the only head trainer in KHS history.
In an interesting coincidence, Wilson pointed out it was a Buckley — the namesake of the district’s stadium — who hired him and it is another Buckley who is his current supervisor.
Killeen High School Principal Susan Buckley said Wilson is a “true gentleman” who loves KHS and continues to be a great example to students. He also works hard.
“He still sets goals for improvement for himself,” Buckley said of Wilson. “His knowledge is unbelievable and he takes care of the kids.”
As a trainer, he arrives at school at 6 in the morning during certain seasons of the year and often, like on Tuesday, is on duty for varsity athletic events into the evening.
His son, Andy Wilson, athletic trainer at Harker Heights High School, said his dad stays at it for a simple reason.
“The kids keep him going,” said the younger Wilson following the service award presentations. “They appreciate him and they care for him. I think they get that he has been there that long and that he cares for them.”
For the record, Buckley confirmed that Wilson is on for year No. 56.
Service award recipients include the following:
50 years: Joe McKelvain
40 years: Billie Bundrant, Earlene Franklin, Rose Jacobs, Emily Lynn and Joan Onate
35 years: Rosie Barnes, Sylvia Campbell, Sharon Harris, Terri Haygood, Barbara McCullough, Vivian Norman, Dorothy Pardekooper, Yolanda Ruiz, Stanley Weirich and Roberta Wilgus
30 years: Elizabeth Avery, Kay Barrows, Claudia Beauchamp, Carmelia Bruce, Linda Caines, Mark Carranza, Tammy Coleman, Joyce Davidson, Carolyn Duncan, Kirk Esterby, Gail Fox, Tracy Guy, Deborah Hargreaves, Margatha Harris, Suzanne Harris, Dorothea Jackson, Deborah Johnson, Pamela Knapp, Lana Knopp, Paul Knopp, Andrewlene Long, Sherry Miller, Rebecca Montjoy, Wayne Moore, Michael Owens, Penny Parker, Milagros Robinson, David Sampson, Pedro San Nicolas, James Smith, Sylvia Taylor, Theodosia Varnado, Susanne White, Ethel Whitmore, Retia Wright and Timothy Young.