(Trinidad, CO) More than 200 supporters braved the winter weather Saturday night to attend the TSJC Educational Foundation Fun and Friendraiser and Hall of Fame event at Trinidad State Junior College. The event featured Lonnie Shelton, car collector and owner of Babe Ruth’s last car, as the program speaker. Also during the event, Reuben Gutierrez, Kathryn Rubin and Jim Toupal were inducted to the TSJC Educational Foundation Hall of Fame.
“I commend this college for reaching out into the community and serving an area that’s allowing people to get an education and get an education in a smart way,” Shelton said in his speech. He then told a motivational story about the life of George Herman Ruth II.
Ruth had seven brothers and sisters, but six of his siblings died in early childhood. Shelton said Ruth had no direction as a child and had a police record by age seven. His parents then turned him over to an orphanage. It was at the orphanage that Ruth’s talent for baseball was discovered. At 19 years old, he was the youngest baseball player to ever sign a professional baseball contract, and that is how he earned the nickname “The Babe.”
“All of the things about Babe Ruth that are positive, it came from here folks,” Lonnie said as he gestured to his heart.
Gutierrez was posthumously inducted to the Hall of Fame. He was commended for 37 years as a hard-working conscientious educator who served TSJC in financial aid administration, housing, admissions, student government and activities. As the Vice President for Student Services and the Vice President for Instruction at TSJC, Gutierrez always worked for the students. The award was presented to the family of Gutierrez.
Rubin, long-time business owner of Rubin’s Clothiers in Raton, N.M., was described as energetic, happy, friendly, cheerful, gracious and generous. Rubin has been an exceptional champion of TSJC for more than 40 years, serving on the TSJC Educational Foundation over 20 years and encouraging students to make the most of life.
“Because of my association with the college, the satisfaction and enrichment one receives from the students, faculty, board as well as the support personnel is sincerely rewarding enough for me,” Rubin said when accepting the award. “It is my hope to enroll many more students here and witness their progress at the school and beyond,” she said.
Toupal was recognized as the winningest coach of all time at TSJC. He was described as a man who took wonderful care of his family and the many student-athletes who compromise his extended family. During his time at TSJC, he coached football, baseball, volleyball, golf and basketball and served as Athletic Director.
Toupal told stories about his career at TSJC and reminisced about his family’s support. “This court also saw our children and our friends’ children grow up,” Toupal said, “The times with these kids were special.”
Toupal was then presented with a cut out from the gym floor that was dedicated to him in 2008. A new gym floor for the Scott Gymnasium at Trinidad State Junior College is in the planning stages and will be complete by mid-summer. Pete DeLuca, TSJC Educational Foundation board member, gave a brief history of the gym floor.
“It’s been here for 40 years,” DeLuca said, “This is the last event that will be held on this particular floor.” DeLuca and Dan Nuschy, also a TSJC Educational Foundation board member, presented a framed section of the old floor reading “Jim Toupal Court” to Toupal.
Nearly $27,000 was raised at the Fun and Friendraiser event to benefit the TSJC Educational Foundation in its mission to promote the growth and development of Trinidad State Junior College.
Foundation Director Toni DeAngelis said of the event, “It is such an honor and privilege for me to be a part of all of this, and tonight is just one of those wonderful examples.”
Foundation President Laura DeBella commented, “I believe the amazing turnout speaks of how important this function is in the community.”
The TSJC Educational Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1968 to raise and manage private gifts for TSJC.