Four chosen for BHS Hall of Fame
The Belton Educational Foundation will honor four new members of the Belton High School Hall of Fame on Aug. 5 at the All Class Reunion and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The inductees are Louis Wilckens, the late Eric Eugene Hankins, Karen Fletcher and Kevin Murphy. Wilckens taught science at the high school for many years, and the others graduated in 1945, 1979 and 1992 respectively.
Established in 1998, the Hall of Fame honors those who have distinguished themselves over a lifetime in their professional careers, for service and contributions to their communities, or in other ways that reflect positively on the education they received at Belton High School.
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After being nominated by community members, family or peers, inductees are selected by a committee of current Hall of Fame members, school district staffers and community members.
The reunion/induction event begins at noon at Belton High School. Tickets can be purchased for $15 at beltonfoundation.org or for $20 at the door. All alumni are welcome. Doors open at 10:30 a.m., and the induction ceremony will follow lunch.
This year’s inductees:
▪ Louis Wilckens began his Belton career in 1961, teaching junior high science on the third floor of what is now the district administration building. During the early 1970s, he moved to the high school where he taught biology, advanced biology, physiology, physics and chemistry.
He started a Science Olympiad team and participated in contests throughout the Kansas City area, usually placing in the top three schools. He would also take his advanced classes to the elementary schools where they would work with younger students on science experiments.
Wilckens also officiated at athletic events and taught Sunday school to high school students in his church.
After retiring in 2000, Wilckens volunteered as a YouthFriend in various Belton schools and was named Volunteer of the Year for 2002-2003.
▪ Eric Eugene Hankins graduated early from Belton High in April 1945 so he could join the Navy during World War II.
He later studied engineering at the University of Kansas and was hired by Westinghouse in 1950 as a jet engine blade grinder. He was quickly promoted to engineering technician, where he designed fuel nozzles for the Saturn V rocket.
In 1957, Westinghouse offered Hankins a job in Pennsylviania working on the Polaris ICBM, but he chose the Kansas City area instead, where he worked for Benson, Boeing and other defense contractors before returning to the family farming business.
When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, Hankins received a congratulatory phone call from NASA for his contribution to the project. In 1971, he and his wife moved to Henry County, Mo., where they operated a fescue seed buying station for Pennington Seed Inc., until his retirement.
Hankins died in 1998.
▪ As a student at Belton High School, Karen Fletcher was part of the marching band, concert band, track, soccer and National Honor Society.
Soon after graduating in 1979, she worked in accounts payable at several local businesses before moving up the ranks at King Louis International where she stayed for 23 years. When the company closed in 2006, Fletcher went back to school and graduated from Longview Community College in 2007 with an associate’s of applied science and business management degree.
In 2008, she and her husband, Jeff, purchased Kansas Business Forms & Supplies Inc. from her uncle and moved the company from Wichita to Main Street in Belton where it continues as Fletcher’s Forms. She is president and chief financial officer.
Fletcher also has been an officer for the Belton Historical Society and served on the Belton Zoning Board of Adjustments and on board of the Belton Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, she was elected to the Belton school board.
▪ Kevin Murphy was best known at Belton High for his achievements in baseball, having been named Varsity Pitcher of the Year in 1992, the year he graduated.
He turned down a full academic scholarship to the University of Missouri to walk on at Pittsburg State University and continue his baseball career. In his senior year, the school made its first trip to the NCAA Division II World Series Regional and Murphy became the school’s winningest pitcher up to that time. He graduated with an accounting degree and a 4.0 GPA.
After college, Murphy coached Belton children in Little League baseball, flag football and basketball and was named Coach of the Year by the Belton Parks and Recreation Department.
After being a corporate CFO locally, he started his own financial consulting firm in 2008.