Cochise College inducted six new members into Hall of Fame

The induction ceremony took place in the Student Union center on the Douglas campus.

This is the third year Cochise College has held its Hall of Fame ceremony that honors former students, faculty/staff and community leaders who have made a major contribution to the mission and goals of Cochise College, or who have contributed in a significant way to the lives of others after being a part of the Cochise College community.

Launched as the college celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the Hall of Fame celebrates an array of contributions by people representing different facets of the college community.

With the latest enshrines, there are now 28 members, including accomplished alumni, prominent community stakeholders, and former employees now in the Cochise College Hall of Fame.

“The Cochise College Hall of Fame is a joyful celebration of our supporters, student success, and college impact on the community,” said Dr. J.D. Rottweiler, Cochise College president. “The individuals we honor this year made a tremendous impact on students, the institution and, ultimately, on the workforce. … When we began this event three years ago as part of the college’s 50th anniversary we said we wanted to induct the legends of the college and today we will do that by inducting six individuals. … Each and everyone of these inductees impacted the college in their own special way.”

Dr. Rottweiler added each of the inductees, their stories, their legends have helped make Cochise College what it is today.

“Cochise College has reached significant, national recognition but it’s been based upon the foundation that each of you built,” he said. “Today we salute you; we celebrate you and in the keeping of Thanksgiving, we may even roast you a little bit.”

Inductees were nominated through letters of recommendation that explained their connections and contributions to the college through personal time, effort and interest.

The 2017 inductees are Frank Adams, Richard Atkinson, Ruth Britton, the late Cordelia Cowan, Don Kimble (‘70), and Harold “Robbie” Robison.

When he joined Cochise College in 1978, Adams was already well known in Douglas as the high school agriculture teacher. Under his leadership, the college agriculture program gained statewide recognition for annually hosting the Future Farmers of America state competition. It was Adams’ idea to organize the Grand Canyon Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, allowing more Arizona and New Mexico colleges to compete. He and his wife Barbara (‘73) earned a reputation for hosting colleagues, students and even their families at their home outside of Douglas. Adams now resides in Texas.

Atkinson, a native of Bisbee, also transitioned from a local high school to coach baseball and teach physical education. An NCAA College World Series shutout pitcher, he later played professional baseball and was the first Cochise College coach to have a championship ball team. After retiring, he got serious about golfing, trying the professional circuit briefly and later designing the back nine of Turquoise Valley Golf Course. Atkinson’s philosophy of placing a high priority on academic success remains the core of the college athletics department, now under the leadership of one of his former players.

Ruth Britton of Sierra Vista designed and initiated the concept of collaborative classes/learning communities, which paired two seemingly unrelated subjects and led to new heights in student learning and engagement. She founded the Social Concerns Club, which integrated service learning into honors-level coursework and led many colleagues to add service into their curriculum. In addition to awards and recognitions earned at the college, Britton received the Arizona Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism, having served or held leadership positions in numerous local organizations.

Long-time Arizona and New Mexico rancher Cordelia “Cordy” Cowan, who passed away in 2011, helped promote the concept of a new college in Cochise County in part because she knew it would make higher education accessible to her three daughters. Later, Cowan spent 30 years on the board of directors of the Cochise College Foundation, soliciting and donating funds to help students and also taking a leadership role in the development of rodeo facilities and an archaeological resource center. Cowan was well-known in the community through her participation in the Douglas Cowbelles, McNeal Ladies’ Aid, square dance and social activities, as well as through showing prize-winning Brahman cattle. She was also the first woman inducted into the Hidalgo County, NM, Hall of Fame. Cowans daughter, Ruth Cowan Giles, accepted the Hall of Fame induction on behalf of her mother.

Long-time professional rodeo cowboy Don Kimble (‘70) attended Cochise College as one of the first recipients of the Kenneth Gunter Memorial Scholarship. He was part of the rodeo team that hosted the first national intercollegiate rodeo at Cochise College. After graduation, he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agriculture education while also competing in college and professional rodeo. He won the team roping event in the West Coast Region of the NIRA all four years of college/university and qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1979 and 1980. He taught and coached at Cochise for 11 years and has served on the board of the Apache School, his alma mater, for 27 years.

Maj. Harold “Robbie” Robison retired from the U.S. Army in 1972 and started work at Cochise College. He became a counselor in 1974. Trained in transactional analysis, he lived the theoretical concept of giving “warm fuzzies” instead of “cold pricklies,” and his bear hugs are legendary. With students, he reinforced the concept that “there is no try – there is only ‘do or don’t do.’” Veterans had a special connection to Robbie, and there are many who credit their college success to Robison’s support and assistance. In addition, he taught Personality and Adjustment, a popular class that students often re-took, bringing family members with them. Robison retired from the college in 2004.

Nominations for the 2018 class are currently being accepted through June 30. In July and August the new inductees will be notified with the induction ceremony scheduled for sometime next Fall.

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By Bruce Whetten/Douglas Dispatch

Cochise College Public Information Officer Amanda Helt contributed to this story with information on the enshrines.