BUCKHANNON — A new plaza dedication pays tribute to the legacies of two well-known individuals who made significant contributions to town in which they worked and lived.
The Binky Poundstone Memorial River Walk Trail and the Hank Ellis baseball field at West Virginia Wesleyan College both bear the names of these two individuals but until this past weekend, there was nothing that told their story.
This weekend that changed with the dedication of the Poundstone-Ellis Legacies Plaza outside the Hank Ellis Field on Camden Avenue.
Mayor David McCauley said, “Our college baseball field was named after Hank Ellis way back in 1986, nearly 30 years before Hank’s passing. Our river trail was dubbed the Poundstone Memorial River Walk Trail 18 years ago immediately following Binky’s death. Despite the big signs bearing their names here for all those years, nowhere had we explained their greatness and what they dearly meant to our community. Today, we fix that. Those big signs will now have greater meaning right here in one of the most traversed spots in our city.
Two of the first folks I meant when arriving in Buckhanno an 36 years ago were Binky and Hank.
Mrs. Pounsstone was one of my great mentors who I came to love as a second mother. Coach Ellis was the guy I sat with at Lions Club meetings on Thursday evenings. When Hank came to find out I was from Wheeling, a place he once lived and coached, his eyes lit up and I came thereafter for years to hear all his stories about the sports legends of my Ohio Valley, especially Lou “the Toe” Groza.
“To Binky, I was McCauley, to Hank I was Mac. Bink became part of my family while Hank always asked about my family. They both were genuinely kind and caring souls. We could use more folks like both of them these days.”
“I think there are three major reasons why we are undertaking this exercise this morning.
First and foremost, it’s vital that we recognize those important players who came before us – our history matters. Second, both of these icons were important to our town and gown communities. They each recognized the importance of the bridge – the nexus between our town and our college.
“Third, as prominent as this corner has long been. Now, it’s special. It’s green. It feels good and soon it will be illuminated. Our city is communicated to city-wide beautification.”
WVWC athletic director and longtime head baseball coach Randy Tenney said, “I spent many many years with Coach Ellis. The most important man in my life was my father but coach Ellis was right along side.
“I did not know Binky Poundstone but I knew the children. Binky Poundstone was a name that was always associated with progress to me. I knew her as the mayor of Buckhannon. Someone that helped move Buckhannon forward and now I learned was a mentor to David.”
“If [Coach Ellis] were here today, he would be extremely proud of what’s going on but he was most proud of his lovely wife, his lovely daughters and his smart, intelligent son.”
Ellis’ son, Frank “Hank” Ellis, said, his father loved West Virginia Wesleyan College.
“We are really honored,” he said. “It was one of the greatest things when they dedicated the field 30 years ago. Dad thought that was the biggest honor to have something that was named after him. That was a big thrill for him.”
Hank drove his dad’s car to the dedication Saturday.
“He had that green car painted orange and black,” he said. “He said I am getting to the point where I don’t feel like getting in and out of the car, but if I drive by the field, they will know that I am around.
“We are very appreciative,” he said. “My dad bled orange and black so this is a proud moment for us.”
Hank also recalled Poundstone’s hospitality when he visited her house with his friends.
“It’s a great honor and I think it was very fitting that they are both being honored here together,” he said.
Cheri Green, Ellis’ daughter, said, “I know dad is looking down right now and my mom. We are so proud of Randy and the city and the friends and the people who have told me stories.
He loved Wesleyan. The last homecoming we were to, I brought him from the VA Hospital and my siblings were here. We had him in the car and it was freezing. People came around because they announced that he was there. After the game was over, he said, do you really want to leave because I know people are still going to want to see me. He loved the college. We appreciate this so much. I can’t say enough.”
Daughter Jeanne Zickefoose said, “I thank everyone for this beautiful honor for my dad and Mrs. Poundstone. Growing up in Buckhannon we had a simple little life.”
But Zickefoose said she remembered coming to the campus from Central Grade School and her dad getting her a Coke from the machine.
“He bled orange and black,” she said. “He loved Wesleyan and Randy he was so proud when you took over, he loved you like a son. We were on our way to Elkins on a Sunday. I asked him if he ever wanted to live anywhere else.
He said, there is no other place I would rather be in Buckhannon. He loved his school. He loved his players and he loved his family.”
Libby Poundstone Lee said, “This is a huge honor for our mother. She began her work in the city by accident and she grew into the position that she had.
She loved the City of Buckhannon and everywhere she went she told them about her City of Buckhannon.”