Martins Ferry Hall of Honor to add journalists

THE LACK of any typing ability and a college education didn’t stop Calvin Pokas from having a 40-year newspaper career, which resulted in numerous honors including one to be received April 6 in Martins Ferry.

Pokas, who died in 2000, and his wife, Betty, are in the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor’s Class of 2014 to be inducted in a ceremony Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m. in the Martins Ferry High School cafetorium. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Purpose of the HofH is to honor individuals whose actions or accomplishments have affected, aided, or brought fame to Martins Ferry. Those eligible for this honor must have been born, lived or worked in Martins Ferry. The Citizens Bank is the HofH sponsor.

The two journalism honorees went from the days of typewriters to the computer age.

Pokas used to refer to his hiring at The Times Leader without knowing how to type as the “assistant publisher’s mistake,” but his index fingers did the job while he wrote news as well as sports.

Of his four decades in journalism, 29 years were as sports editor, but his first honor was for news writing, and he received a Community Service Award from United Press International. Pokas, who was city editor for Martins Ferry for several years, also was courthouse and political reporter.

He was inducted into the OVAC Hall of Fame posthumously, and the Cal Pokas OVAC Cross Country Championship was named in his memory.

Pokas was a pioneer in writing about girls’ sports and activities such as cross country and others not receiving much attention from the other media years ago.

Named “Sports Writer of the Year” by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association in 1976, he also was selected for that group’s Hall of Fame and for the UPI Sports Editors Association Hall of Fame. An honoree at the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference’s Banquet of Champions in 1995, he also received a service award from the Eastern District Athletic Administrators Association and a district award from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Selected for the Mr. Mat Award from the OVAC and Ohio Valley Wrestling Association, Pokas also was named to Bellaire High School’s Wall of Fame in 1998. Included among the other groups from which he received awards are the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches; District 12, Basketball Coaches Association; The Meadows; Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame; Ohio Valley Golf Coaches Association and Ohio Valley Football Coaches Association. The OVAC directory was dedicated in his honor in 1995.

He was honorary referee at the Domino’s Pizza-Pepsi Track Classic because of contributions to Ohio Valley youth and his work in sports writing.

After his retirement, he wrote “Eye on the Bucks,” and this column was continued by his wife.

Betty, who currently is area editor of The Times Leader, was editor of two pictorial books, “Eastern Ohio’s Pictorial Past” and “Belmont County, 1801-2001.”

A magna cum laude graduate of Kent State University, she was selected for college honoraries in journalism, history and press photography and also earned various awards at KSU. In later years, she received honors from the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches and the Ohio Valley Golf Coaches Association.

In addition to her work on The Times Leader, she edited the “Model Cities Review” for the city of Martins Ferry and was chairman of the first Betty Zane Frontier Days which later became Betty Zane Days. She also served on the Martins Ferry Board of Health.

A Barnesville High School graduate, she was selected for the Barnesville Area Education Foundation Hall of Fame in 1999. She cut the ribbon to open the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival five years ago.

Both writers were involved in community activities, and included among their memberships is the First United Methodist Church, Martins Ferry.

Calvin, a past president of the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association and past commissioner of the Ohio Valley Baseball League for 23 years, served on the Martins Ferry Civil Service Commission for 30 years. A member of a Salvation Army advisory board, he served as Belmont County chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Association.

Their children are John, an optometrist, St. Clairsville; Judy Mayles, supervisor of the CAT Scan Department, Wheeling Hospital; and James, a Martins Ferry resident who teaches at West Virginia Northern Community College, and their four grandchildren are Jacob Mayles, Olivia, Alexandra and Nicholas Pokas.

In addition to the two journalists, other inductees will be Peter A. Reddy, a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1928; Jack Canfield, originator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series and motivational speaker; May Louise Hinton Wykle, Ph.D., a Mount Pleasant High School graduate who was the first African-American graduate of the Ruth Brant School of Nursing and first African-American dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University; the late Dr. C.B. Messerly, an early Martins Ferry physician who helped to found Martins Ferry Hospital; and Dr. R.A. Raimonde, whose general practice in the city was opened in 1952 and and who later was president of the hospital’s medical staff and on its board of directors as well as president of the Belmont County Medical Society.