The Boone County Historical Society’s Endowment Trust Board has chosen its 2018 inductees to the Boone County Hall of Fame.
The 2018 living recipient is famed MU basketball coach, Norm Stewart. Stewart was a two-time team captain, all-Big Seven selection, and an All-American in basketball when a student at Mizzou. After six seasons as a successful head coach at the State College of Iowa (now University of Northern Iowa), Stewart was named head coach of the Mizzou Tigers in 1967.
During his 32-year career at Mizzou he won 8 Big Eight Conference regular-season championships, 6 Big Eight Conference post-season tournament titles, made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, including two “elite eights” and 5 NIT post-season tournament appearances. He was the 1982 UPI National Coach of The Year and 1994 Associated Press Coach of the Year. His teams won 634 games at Missouri—far and away the most in school history, and more than MU had won in its entire 60-year basketball history prior to Stewart’s arrival. His lifetime record of 728-374 is the 29th best mark in NCAA history and he coached 9 All-American players.
Stewart is also a member of the council of Coaches vs. Cancer, a program he founded following his own battle with cancer. Fighting cancer on behalf of others is a passion for Norm and Virginia. In 2013, the couple partnered with Boone Hospital Center and through the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center, they hope to help improve cancer care in mid-Missouri and encourage local residents to be screened.
Norm and Virginia have made Columbia their home since 1967. In 2017 a statue of “Stormin’ Norman” was erected in front of Mizzou Arena.
The 2018 organization or business inductee is Boone Electric Cooperative. Founded in 1936, it was the first electric cooperative in Missouri. It was originally formed to bring electrification to hundreds of farms and homes located outside of the city of Columbia, and within Boone County when other utilities would not build costly miles of infrastructure to serve rural areas. The mission of Boone Electric Cooperative is to provide reliable electric energy and other services at the lowest possible cost through sound business practices.
The Cooperative is owned by its members and today serves more than 30,000 homes, farms and businesses throughout Boone County. It is governed by a nine-person board of directors elected by the membership. Profits earned from providing services to members are returned to those members to the extent they are not required for expansion and replacement of assets for the Cooperative. Formed by BEC’s board in 1997, the Boone Electric Community Trust has awarded grants totaling more than $2.6 million to deserving charitable organizations in Boone County and its service territory.
The 2018 posthumous recognition goes to a husband and wife – the late Dr. Eliot and Mrs. Muriel Battle. Eliot Battle, (1924 – 2013) and his wife Muriel (1930 – 2003), were both educators and civil rights leaders. Eliot was the subject of an award-winning 2012 University of Missouri Extension documentary, and he played a leading role in desegregating schools, housing and restaurants in Columbia. He was known to be both calm and stubborn – a combination that allowed him to move Columbia forward on the road to integration. Both Eliot and Muriel Battle were teachers and administrators in the Columbia Public School System.
The couple moved to Columbia in 1956 to take jobs at Douglass School, which served the African American student population before integration. Mrs. Battle was the first African American teacher at West Junior High School, teaching eighth grade, and later became principal. She was the first female assistant superintendent for secondary education in Columbia and she spent a total of 40 years working in the Columbia school district. She was involved in numerous national, state and local boards, including the President’s Task Force for Drug Free Schools and the Stephens College Board of Trustees. She received the Outstanding University of Missouri Alumni Award from the MU College of Education. Columbia’s Battle High School is named for her.
Dr. Battle was an assistant principal and guidance counselor at Douglass School and was the first black faculty member at Hickman High School in 1960, after the school merged with Douglass. There he played a pivotal role, serving as an advocate for desegregation, mediator of conflicts, and mentor during the crucial early years of Hickman’s transformation into an integrated school. Columbia’s Battle Elementary School is named for Eliot Battle.
The Battles raised four children in Columbia and as a family they had a significant role in desegregating Columbia housing. They believed that men and women, black and white, rich and poor, young and old should all live in harmony.
The 2018 Enshrinement Ceremony is a dinner banquet and will be held on Thursday, November 8 at the University of Missouri’s Reynolds Alumni Center. Tickets will become available in early autumn. Last year’s inductees were the late E.W. Stephens, The University of Missouri – Columbia, and Darwin & Axie Hindman. The host of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, Mark Walberg, will return in 2018 as the event’s emcee.
(Some of the information in this media release is sourced from and attributed to Mizzou Magazine, The Columbia Missourian, The Columbia Daily Tribune and Wikipedia)