Park ded­i­cated to for­mer Boys Club leader

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OBITUARIES - MICHAEL SHINE

EL DO­RADO — The ded­i­ca­tion of Ce­cil Kel­lum Park on Satur­day af­ter­noon cel­e­brated the life of Ce­cil Kel­lum and the con­tri­bu­tions he made to the com­mu­nity while work­ing at the El Do­rado Boys Club, cur­rently the Boys and Girls Club of El Do­rado, for 20 years.

Kel­lum started as the pro­gram di­rec­tor for the club in 1952 and moved to the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor po­si­tion 17 years later.

Dur­ing his time with the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Kel­lum started the ath­letic pro­gram with a wrestling mat and a pool ta­ble in 1952. A year later, he helped lead the con­struc­tion of a new fa­cil­ity and a ball field. He went on to es­tab­lish Lit­tle League base­ball, bas­ket­ball and foot­ball pro­grams.

“Bas­ket­ball was harder,” Kel­lum said. “I vis­ited the school and told them about the bas­ket­ball pro­gram-teams from each school, dif­fer­ent age brack­ets. It was sur­pris­ing I had a lot of par­tic­i­pants. My pro­gram ex­celled.”

Kel­lum was in­ducted into the El Do­rado Boys Club Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Union County Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Along with the ded­i­ca­tion to Kel­lum, the park is get­ting a num­ber of up­grades and im­prove­ments. The new en­trance of brick pil­lars, the name of the park stretched be­tween them, and a plaque speak­ing to Kel­lum’s legacy are al­ready in place.

Phase II of the project, which will be com­pleted be­fore the ball sea­son in March — weather al­low­ing — in­cludes dirt work, safety shields over the fences, re­pairs to the gates and dugouts, up­grades to the bat­ting cage, in­stalling four bleach­ers, and sev­eral land­scap­ing projects. Ad­di­tion­ally, due to safety con­cerns, fund­ing from the project will also go to handrails at the sides, mid­dle and back of the B League stands.

The fund­ing for the project came from the El Do­rado Boys Club Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion. A com­mit­tee formed to im­ple­ment the im­prove­ments to the park has raised $76,000 for the project.

As part of the ded­i­ca­tion, many of the peo­ple Kel­lum worked with when they were grow­ing up re­turned to the area to cel­e­brate him.

“It’s an in­spi­ra­tion,” Kel­lum said. “A lot of the boys from over the years should have been here, but were not here. A lot of Boys Clubs mem­bers should have been here, but weren’t here, some for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. But I’m glad that the ones who were here to­day were here to show their sup­port.”

One of those who did come back was Al Miller, who coached NFL teams for 23 years be­fore end­ing his ca­reer with the Oak­land Raiders. Miller said Kel­lum is a leg­end.

“You don’t get these type of peo­ple to come out on this day [in the rain] for some­body that’s not spe­cial,” Miller said.

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