Remarks for Dedication of Gray-Minor Baseball Stadium and Paulette Hall
27 March 2007
Ladies and gentlemen. We are here this afternoon to express our deep appreciation to three very special alumni, and to their families, for their generosity that has made it possible for us to construct, what is without a doubt, one of the finest college baseball complexes in the country. Today, we formally dedicate Gray-Minor Stadium and Paulette Hall with this ceremony and activities to follow at Patchin Field and the baseball contest with Virginia Commonwealth University.
Baseball is the oldest intercollegiate athletic game played at VMI; it's a sport that dates back to the 1860s here at the Institute. Games were initially played on the VMI Parade Ground, with home plate not far from where Stonewall Jackson's statue now stands. In the early 1920s, the location of home games shifted to VMI Alumni Memorial Field, where our team played for the next forty years. In the early 1960s, games were moved to Patchin Field, named after VMI's legendary trainer and physical education instructor, Herb Patchin. That baseball field was then located to the left of the current field location, as viewed from the hillside stands. It was an area in the 1960s known affectionately by cadets as the "Nile Valley" and the field as "the Patch". In those days, a few wooden bleachers were set among the trees and rocks for spectators. The scoreboard, which was constructed with some 2 x 4s, was located down the left field foul line, and scores were manually posted each half inning. The baseball field used today came into existence in the late 1980s, and the legendary Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, came to VMI to inaugurate the new field in the Spring of 1988 in a game with the University of Virginia. A plaque commemorating that event is now displayed along side the plaque naming Patchin Field in the gathering area near the press box of the stadium.
Gray-Minor Stadium and Paulette Hall...this superb athletic complex...has numerous components, and I encourage you (today) to explore their many features. The new stadium, with higher fencing, fully encompasses Patchin field: with box-seats and stands seating 1400 spectators; state of the art lighting for night games; a press box with the latest technology for broadcast, filming, music and print media; concessions; restrooms and storage; new dugouts and an "all weather" batting cage. Impressive tunneling facilitates movement to the soccer-lacrosse field. At season's end, we will install a massive, high technology scoreboard which will serve our winning teams, and fan enjoyment, so well for years to come.
Paulette Hall: with its training rooms; locker rooms for baseball, lacrosse, and men and women's soccer teams; visiting teams, and changing rooms for officials --- all expanded and modernized (to include the latest in audio-visual capability) will provide year round support for our athletes.
At this timeI want to recognize our architect - construction teams and ask each to stand as I call your name.
- from SFCS - architects from Roanoke, VA:
1. Mr. Timm Jaimeson - Vice President
2. Mr. Jack Weatherby - Project Manager
- from Branch and Associates - general contractors from Roanoke, VA:
1. Mr. Tony Brown - Vice President for Operations
2. Ms. Heather Bowman - Project Manager
3. Mr. Jerry DeVault - Superintendent
- And, KBS, from Richmond constructed Paulette Hall and is represented
by its President, Mr. Paulette.
- General Bob Green; LTC Dale Brown, VMI Director of Construction; and, Mr. Turner Perrow, Project Manager and VMI Class of '96 led the VMI charge, supervision and interface. (Let's thank all of them for their splendid work over the past two years.)
Gray-Minor Stadium and Paulette Hall now complete the first phase of the North Post construction plan and build "momentum" towards our Phase II and III projects, which extend from the bridge (near Paulette Hall), eastward towards Jordan's Point and North to the Maury River. They set the example as standards of excellence enhancing competition, winning teams, and recruiting, not to mention the enjoyment of observing a VMI athletic event set in a beautiful environment. At the end of the day, these facilities, "collectively", form a leadership valley where leaders for "tomorrow" are grown to serve our society, state, and nation.
The three men who made our new facilities possible really require no introduction, as they are well known to all of us here and to most VMI alumni. This latest example of their support and generosity is but one of many over the years, both in funds and in important service and time to the Institute. Few can match their record.
Nevertheless, before we move on to the "unveiling" of copies of the plaques, which represent the actual bronze plaques that have been installed in Gray-Minor Stadium and Paulette Hall, I would like to say a few words about these three extraordinary alumni: Elmon Taylor Gray '46, George Gilmer Minor, III '63, and William Aubrey Paulette '69, known to many of their Brother Rats as "Old Zuni," "Walrus," and "Bunny"and that is the last I will say about that.
Senator Gray had his VMI career interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy during World War II; he returned after the war and graduated in 1948. As a cadet, he was a liberal arts major and an athlete as a member of the baseball and swimming teams. Like Gil Minor, Elmon was a catcher on the baseball team, and it was said that he literally could jump ten feet in any direction to scoop up the baseball. He was also considered "a true friend and a swell guy" by his Brother Rats, and they predicted great things for this "old lumber man from way back." And great things he did accomplish, most noteworthy serving in the Virginia Senate for twenty years where he served on virtually every key committee and was Chairman of the Education and Health Committee. And today, when I walk the halls of our legislature, I find he is still revered, respected, and very well liked. Everyone asks me about Senator Grayor tells me a vignette about him. Senator Gray built up a reservoir of "good will" for VMI, which we draw on today.
His sustained dedication to the welfare of the Institute is best recognized by his service as President of the VMI Alumni Association, President of the VMI Board of Visitors, and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Keydet Club. He was the recipient of the VMI Foundation's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, and the recipient of the Board of Visitors' prestigious New Market Medal. Over the years, when VMI has been in need, this scholar-athlete, citizen legislator, and businessman stood in the "first" rank.
Mr. Minor was a history major and an outstanding student-athlete as a cadet. He was a starter on the great VMI football teams during the Coach McKenna era. As a First Classman, he co-captained the 1962 Southern Conference Championship football team and the 1963 baseball team. As a catcher, he was selected All Southern Conference. In addition, Gil served on numerous committees, including the Ring Figure Committee, the Political Science Society, the Pioneer Investment Club, the Canterbury Club, the Richmond Club, and as vice-president of the Monogram Club. All this activity must have had a very positive effect on him because it is recorded in the 1963 Bomb that, "he never served confinement or walked tours." His Brother Rats said of him, that he was "a big fellow with a bigger character," which is borne out by his record as a cadet and certainly by his subsequent life and career.
Mr. Minor's career has been a distinguished one. Following graduation from VMI, he graduated from the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and went on to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Owens and Minor, Inc., a Richmond-based distributor of medical and surgical supplieswhere he "transformed" a family business into the successful and respected public giant it is today. Like Senator Gray before him, Gil currently serves as President of the VMI Board of Visitors. He has also served as President of the VMI Foundation and as a member of the Keydet Club's Board of Governors. VMI has truly been blessed by his devotion.
The third gentleman in our distinguished triumvirate is Mr. Bill Paulette. Bill was a civil engineering major at VMI where he played on both the football and baseball teams and was a member of the Monogram Club. He was also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which explains why his Brother Rats said of him: "With a slide rule and sports page in hand, [Bill] can conquer the world." In seeing this potential, they accurately predicted the future of this superb businessman and citizen.
Mr. Paulette is the founder and president of KBS, Inc., in Richmond, one of the largest general contracting firms in the State of Virginia. It is a company that he founded in 1975. He has also been involved with the formation of Hermitage Steel in Ashland, Mid-Eastern Builders in Chesapeake, and Systems East in Hampton, Virginia. He is a founder and board member of the Bank of Richmond and has served as chairman of a number of civic organizations. At VMI, Mr. Paulette served on the Board of Governors of the VMI Keydet Club for eight long years before being appointed to the VMI Board of Visitors in 2002, on which he currently serves. Bill is very sports competitiveand a rabid fan. He loves young people. I have always found Bill Paulette's advice soundand what a joy to be in his company.
These three men deserve our sincere and heartfelt thanks. But, we also owe thanks to their families for their support, and especially to their wives: Pamela Gray, Charlotte Minor, and Carolyn Paulette. The time that these men have given to their alma mater is a gift not only from them, but certainly from their families, and for that I express the Institute's deepest appreciation.