The former students he helped mold honored a local Army veteran recently.
The Kemper Military School and College Alumni Association inducted Henry Gatewood Jr. of Parsons into its Hall of Fame during a banquet and ceremony on Oct. 7 in Boonville, Missouri, home of the former school.
Following retirement after 25 years of military service in 1985, First Sgt. Gatewood eventually went to work at Kemper as a TAC (training, advising, counseling) officer in 1990. Gatewood was one of the officers who helped guide middle school, high school and junior college students.
“To some of them, I was a grandpa because of the age I was, or a father or uncle or brother,” Gatewood said.
Gatewood and retired First Sgt. Charles Slone worked mostly with high school students, but also some junior college students. Besides training the students in military courtesy, the two made sure they had their homework done, among other things. If the students had completed their homework for the week, the TAC officers would reward them with an allowance. If not, they let them call their parents to let them know, Gatewood said.
Gatewood said he was honored the alumni chose him for the hall, but at first he didn’t want to attend the ceremony because a class reunion was the same weekend. His wife, Martha, insisted that he go because it was his former students who chose him for the honor. Their son, Howard Sheley of Colorado Springs, and Sheley’s wife surprised him by attending the ceremony. Sheley also is a retired Army soldier.
Gatewood said Kemper was the oldest military school in the nation when it closed in 2002. The school was founded in 1844 and eventually became known as the “West Point of the West.”