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Schreiner University honors the father of Trinity resident

KERRVILLE---The late Albert B. “Monk” Keith, golf coach at Schreiner University from 1966 to 1984, was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Honor on April 23. He is the father of Don Keith of Trinity.

After professional careers in baseball and golf, Keith moved from Houston to Kerrville to help develop what is now Riverhill Country Club. Playing golf with Schreiner President Andy Edington led to Keith’s coaching the Schreiner men’s golf team part time in 1966. He became a fulltime coach in 1970 and served through 1984.

Keith led the golf team to several junior college conference titles, upper-tier finishes in regional tournaments, and one third-place finish nationally. He was voted national junior college golf coach of the year in 1977.

Keith also coached the first women’s golf teams at Schreiner during the 1970s.

Golf was his second professional sport. Keith played baseball in the 1930s for several minor league and semi-pro teams, sharing the diamond with legends such as Dizzy Dean, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. He earned the nickname “Monk” when he climbed a backstop in pursuit of a foul ball.

His aggressive play led to a broken glove hand, and he eventually turned from baseball to golf. Keith became manager of the Hughes Tool Company’s country club and golf course, and served as president of the Texas Professional Golfers’ Association.

Remembered by former students as both a trusted counselor and patient coach, Keith and his wife, Helen, were dorm parents for girls living in L. A. Schreiner Hall after the school started on-campus residence facilities for females.

“Monk was not just our coach,” says one of his former players, Oscar Elizondo, ’84. “He was also like a father figure for those of us that needed direction, discipline and good family values. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it was usually profound.”

Keith died in Kerrville in 1995 at age 84.

Local veteran celebrates 92nd birthday, reflects

World War II veteran Bob Colston recently celebrated his 92nd birthday with a work luncheon and family picnic. Colston is a well-known man in Trinity with an active lifestyle, and many friends.

Bob Colston was born May 14, 1924, to a small town in Mississippi. He was the first of eight children.

Early in life, Colston developed a love for sports, particularly baseball and later golf, that he carried with him through life. He began working early, taking on a job in a cotton mill at the age of 13. It would also be only three years later that he married another young woman named Jean, who was to be his wife of 70 years (until her passing in 2011).

As the second World War began and raged on, Colston and his coworkers were some of the few males exempt from the draft, as their mill was designated as a “war plant,” producing vital textiles for the war effort overseas. Colston, however, volunteered to the military anyway in 1944, and after boot camp was deployed to Italy.

According to Colston, the most harrowing part of his war experience, was not the deployment, but the journey from Virginia to Italy. At the time, German U-Boats were virtually unopposed in those waters, and hunted for targets freely. The journey was a dangerous, 13 day creep across the Atlantic Ocean, down to the shore of Africa, and up into Italy.

Five months into Colston’s deployment the war ended. Colston was then tasked with remaining there for several months more, a time which he remembers fondly, as a deeply enriching experience. 

Colston returned home 15 months later, but as it would happen, with the war behind them, the cotton mill did not remain open for much longer. It closed in 1947, and so in 1949, Colston took a train to Houston, Texas, where he and his wife briefly lived with his brother-in-law before gaining his footing and developing a small, but successful masonry company that employed as many as 20 individuals.

Colston left the masonry business in 1967, but followed up by taking interest in the insurance business. He studied and obtained an insurance license, picking up work for several years as an insurance agent at Ward Bros & Associates Insurance Agency.

In 1982, Colston’s daughter Barbara and her husband Jack moved to Trinity, Texas. Soon thereafter, Colston began commuting back and forth between Houston and Trinity, where he continued his work in insurance. In 1984, Colston finally made the move and has lived in Trinity ever since.

“I’d lived most of my life in Houston,” Colston said. “Wish I’d lived on those years here, really… I’ve had a really wonderful life here in Trinity. Far as I know, I don’t have an enemy anywhere.”

Today, Colston lives in West Wood Shores with his son (Kevin) and daughter-in-law (Rachel). He continues an athletic lifestyle, sells insurance at Rollo’s Insurance Agency, and is highly active in his church and the local community. He has been an elder in both Bammel Road Church of Christ and the Lake Houston Church, along with serving on numerous community boards. Locally, he has long been regarded as a valuable and respected asset to the community.

“I had a wonderful, wonderful life,” Colston said. “I’ve been so fortunate.”

Legendary gospel group featuring Groveton native to perform

By Chris Edwards

One of the most heralded groups in gospel music history is performing in Groveton next month and for one of its members the concert will be for a hometown crowd.

Melissa Kemper (formerly Mericle), a native of Groveton, recently rejoined the group as its soprano singer. Kemper performed with the Chuck Wagon Gang from 2001 until 2006, when she left to be with her children during their formative years. 

Last year she began singing with the group again and is now on the road with them full-time.  A graduate of Groveton High School (class of ‘94) she still calls Groveton home. When not on the road with the legendary group, she and her husband Jamie reside in town.

“I am very happy that God has brought me back into the group after all these years,” Kemper wrote on the official Chuck Wagon Gang website. “I am truly blessed.”

Kemper is part of a legacy that goes back 80 years when the group was formed by D.P. (Dad) Carter, his son Jim (Ernest) and daughters Rose (Lola) and Anna (Effie) in Lubbock. The group performed its country gospel standards on radio shows and soon acquired a sponsorship with also Bewley Flour. The Gang soon signed with Columbia Records and stayed with the international label for 39 years. 

At one point the group was Columbia’s biggest selling act and sold over 39 million records. Over the years of record making and tours, the group has performed at many esteemed venues including Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry and the Hollywood Bowl. The Chuck Wagon Gang has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and its recordings catalogued in the Smithsonian Institution’s library of classic American recordings. 

Currently the Chuck Wagon Gang is led by Shaye Smith, who is the granddaughter of Anna (Effie) Carter of the original quartet and Howard Gordon, who served as the group’s guitarist for many years. Smith sings alto, while Stan Hill sings tenor; Jeremy Stephens provides bass vocals and plays guitar and Kemper’s beautiful soprano vocals round out the quartet. Before Kemper rejoined the group, they released a new album, Meeting in Heaven, a collection composed entirely of songs penned by legendary country singer/songwriter/guitarist Marty Stuart. The group was also the subject of a recent PBS documentary that chronicled its long and storied history.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 15 at First Baptist Church in Groveton. The group will have merchandise available and will be on hand afterward for autographs.

Area man, father of three, brings MMA to Trinity

By Jordan Likens

Tim Lashley, Trinity County resident and father of three, is the owner of TCOB Fitness and MMA, a local gym that offers fitness and mixed martial arts (MMA) classes to children and adults. TCOB Fitness and MMA recently relocated to a facility on East Main Street that is three times larger than its original location. 

In addition to a new location, Lashley expects to make more changes to the gym and what it has to offer to the public.

“We’re probably going to be starting an 11 a.m. class really soon and adding a bunch of new things. The best is yet to come. There’s a lot to come for this gym,” Lashley said.

Before finding success with his gym and in his own MMA fighting career, Lashley pursued many other career paths. Not only has Lashley worked as a correctional officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 12 years, but has also worked in chemical plants and as a scaffold builder. 

Lashley was introduced to the world of MMA when two men saw potential in his strength and fighting skills.

“I started doing MMA about five years ago. I trained with Collin Cantrell and Chris Buffalo Rose at Death Row Mixed Martial Arts. They kicked my butt,” Lashley said.

Upon beginning his MMA training, Lashley began to discover what a difference his new love for fitness made.

“I believe MMA helps with your confidence level. I believe it creates a difference in your attitude. I weighed 240 pounds when I started and I have cut 165 pounds since. It teaches you proper nutrition. It teaches you what to put into your body and what not to put into your body,” Lashley said.

As his love for MMA grew, so did Lashley’s desire to start his own gym. When he opened TCOB Fitness and MMA, his intentions for the gym exceeded a simple business venture.

“We’re dedicated to Trinity, Texas. There’s so much negativity, so we wanted to bring positivity to the community,” he said.

With this goal in mind, Lashley chose to focus this positivity on the youth of Trinity.

“Our goal is to get kids off the streets and into the gym to teach them respect, discipline, and to show them a family atmosphere, so they don’t turn to drugs and violence,” Lashley said.

Lashley has seen the benefits of MMA for many of his students, including one student whose father passed away.

“He came to the gym the day of his father’s funeral crying and hugged me and told me that if his father was still alive this is where he would want him to be,” Lashley said.

TCOB Fitness and MMA appeals to more than just the youth of Trinity, however. The gym has a wide array of classes to offer for adults.

“We have a women’s fitness class and personal training,” Lashley said.

TCOB Fitness and MMA is open Monday through Friday and offers children’s classes at 5 p.m., adult classes at 6 p.m., and female group fitness classes throughout the day. TCOB Fitness and MMA can be found on Facebook. For more information about classes offered, contact 936-435-4734.

Lashley would like to thank his sponsors Mark Tatom, J&J Foundation Repair, and RNP Enterprises for their contributions to TCOB Fitness and MMA.

Trinity man writes and publishes seven books

By Jordan Likens 

John Konior, a Trinity County resident, was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. Konior eventually graduated from the City College of New York and married his first wife shortly after in 1960. A year later, Konior joined the Air Force. During the four years Konior was in the Air Force, he and his wife had a child. After returning from the service, Konior went to work at the Chase Manhattan Bank.

“I worked for them for 16 years, became a Vice President, and it was during that time I took an interest in writing,” Konior said.

After discovering that he loved to write, Konior was presented an opportunity that allowed him to write about one of his biggest passions:  fishing. “I have a passion for fishing--it’s my sport. I started to write articles for a fishing magazine off Long Island. I was a freelance writer for them. It was called the Long Island Fisherman,” Konior said.
 
Konior retired from the Chase Manhattan Bank after 16 years of employment and decided to move to Florida. During this time, Konior’s writing career came to a halt.
 
In 1988, Konior found himself in Denver, where he met his second wife and began writing a fishing newsletter. The newsletter was short-lived, however, due to he and his wife moving across the country.
 
After living in several states, Konior and his wife moved to Trinity in 1993.“
 
My wife and I both really enjoy fishing and traveling a little bit. Trinity gave us an opportunity to relax though,” Konior said.
 
Not too long after settling down in Trinity, Konior’s wife began encouraging him to write again. This motivation convinced Konior to begin writing his first novel, “The Secret of Big Pine Key”, in Jan. 2003.“
 
It took the better part of three years to get published, and that was self-publishing,” Konior said.As an independent author, Konior published six books through Amazon and CreateSpace. CreateSpace is an outlet that authors can utilize to create, publish, and distribute their work on Amazon.
 
“CreateSpace allows authors to create books essentially for free,” Konior said.
 
Through his experience with independent publishing, Konior has learned many things about the publication process, one of which is how tedious the editing process can be.
 
“No matter what kind of perfect paper you’ve submitted, you’re going to find lots of errors. You’ll edit it a hundred times over,” Konior said.One of Konior’s many publications is “How’s it by You?”, a novel that tells the story of two mismatched fishing buddies. One thing that makes “How’s it by You?” a good read is that it is based on a true story.
 
“Although all of my books are fiction, there is a great amount of non-fiction involved in many of the stories. ‘How’s it by You?’ was written for my friend who is dearly departed. [He] was one of the most interesting and funniest people I’ve known,” Konior said.
 
Konior’s latest novel, “Mystery of Somber Bay Island”, was written as a collaboration piece with another author after Konior began experiencing issues writing a conclusion for the novel. He contributed to this novel under the pseudonym of Victor J. Knight.
 
“I met this gal on an authors website and she was a very accomplished author. I asked if she would not mind taking a look at it. I had some reservations about how the book ended, but she picked up from the same point I had issues with and we then collaborated to finish it,” Konior said.
 
After writing seven novels, Konior is not ready to give up his writing career yet. Not only does he intend to write another novel, but he predicts he might even shift genres.
 
“Christian writing appeals to me. It’s so rich in terms of material,” Konior said.Konior has remained active in the community of Trinity, as he is the president of the Westward Shores Anglers for Conservation club.
 
“We are concerned about conservation efforts, aside from just fishing,” Konior said. Konior has donated a copy of each of his novels to the local library of Trinity and also donates his novels for fundraising purposes.
 
To stay up to date with Konior’s work or to inquire on fundraising opportunities, he can be found on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn more about Konior and his publications at http://joneau2.wix.com/joneau2-book-page.
 

Trinity Co. native, WWII hero dies at 92

By Chris Edwards

Trinity County native Jap C. Lott died at his home in Pearland at the age of 92 last Thursday.

Lott was born April 21, 1923 in Groveton to Howard and Ila Lott. He graduated Groveton High School in 1940, and was a lifetime member (L-041) of the Groveton Alumni Association.

A highly decorated combat veteran, Lott loved his country and served in the Army Air Corps. He reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He enlisted in the service in 1942 and was a fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Among the missions he flew, he took part in tactical reconnaissance and bombing missions as part of the 82nd Tacical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 71st Tactical Recon Group, 5th Airforce.

After returning home and graduating from South Texas College of Law in 1951, Lott launched a career in Houston as a highly respected attorney for over 50 years.

He was married to his wife Louise, whom he is survived by, for 71 years. They spent most of their lives involved with their daughters’ activities, and traveled all over the country in their motor homes, often meeting up with friends they made on their many travels. He loved being outdoors, whether on the bay in Bacliff where they had their bay house, or raising cattle and gardening at the farm in Yoakum. He was an avid fisherman and hunter, gin-rummy player and reader. His favorite thing to do in later years after losing his eyesight was to listen to national news stations on TV to keep his mind active and keep up with politics. He was a wonderful storyteller, had a sharp mind until the end, and constantly amazed people with his ability to remember details and dates of events that had occurred throughout his life.

Lott was a member of many organizations and clubs through his life, including the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association, the Texas Trial Lawyers’ Association, 50+ year member of Eastern Star Lodge #284 of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Life Member of The Royal Order of Jesters and Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.