Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
March 13, 2013
DALLAS -- Gordon Kunke was a teacher and basketball coach at Dallas High School nearly 60 years ago when the district opened its new high school -- and its brand new gymnasium, the envy of all the Dragons' opponents at the time.
On Monday night, the Dallas School Board approved a recommendation to name the facility after Kunke, who coached not only the first team to play on the court, but the first Dragon basketball squad to win a state title.
"I'm embarrassed by this to tell you the truth because I thought all the years I was working here I was just doing a job," Kunke said Monday night after the board approved the recommendation, which had overwhelming community support.
Kunke began his 35-year career in Dallas in 1949, when he interviewed for and was offered a position as a teacher and coach in Dallas. Five years later, the new school opened.
Kunke, 90, can remember the first game played in the new gym against rival Molalla. There wasn't an empty seat in the house, he said.
It wasn't long before the new gym added its first state championship banner. Kunke's 1958 Dragon team won the school's first state title in basketball. His 11-year head coaching career featured five conference championships, in addition to the state title run.
"We had a lot of good talent at the time in basketball and other sports, so it was a pleasure to coach here," Kunke said.
After his coaching days, Kunke served as the high school principal from 1960-1963. In 1963, he was named assistant superintendent. He was promoted again in 1970 to superintendent, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.
Isaak Tichenor, a player on the 2012-13 Dragon varsity basketball team and member of the gym naming committee, said tying Kunke's name to the gym will assure the former coach, teacher and superintendent will remain a role model for future generations.
"It will be a great reminder to us all of why we play the game," he said.
A ceremony officially dedicating the gym to Kunke is scheduled for April 5.
"I appreciate the consideration that has been given and I'm just proud to be part of the Dallas School District in the past and present," Kunke said.