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Burton, Lee, Palmore, Weddle

South Boston News
The latest class of the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame was inducted Saturday night after the annual banquet at Halifax County Middle School. From left, Greg Weddle; Michaeleen Palmore, Fred Palmore’s widow; Keith Lee and Jeff Burton, pictured with Carlyle Wimbish Jr., president of the local Hall. (Randy Holmes photo) / April 15, 2019

Jeff Burton, Greg Weddle, Keith Lee and the late Fred Palmore joined the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame Saturday night.

The 31st banquet also saw two Comet athletes win scholarships. Lauryn Chappell took home the Matze family scholarship and Colt LaRue won the Hall of Fame endowment scholarship. Chappell is headed to Roanoke College to play softball and LaRue is slated for baseball duty at Averett.

BURTON JOINS FAMILY MEMBERS: Burton recently went into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Burton joins his father, John, and his brother Ward as members of the Sports Hall.

Burton was presented by his dad, and his daughter Paige, showing heartfelt pride in his father’s accomplishments and character.

In his remarks, Burton said it’s an honor to be in the latest Hall class.

Burton asked his dad and daughter to be presenters, and noted their influences. The elder Burton instilled a warrior spirit in his son.

“Nothing’s for free. You can’t succeed if you don’t go to work,” said Burton, who also said he has tried to instill that drive in his son and daughter.

(Harrison Burton (18) is an emerging driver in NASCAR, while Paige (23) is a competitive equestrian.)

Burton also lavished praise on his mother, Meredith Bowman, for her character and support.

Burton said successful athletes have to develop split personalities.

“You put the racing helmet on, you can’t be the guy that you are when you’re outside the race car,” said Burton. “If you are, you can’t win.”

Burton also said Kim’s parents - Roger Browne and his wife, Joan, are a major part of his life. And he recalled the tight bond developed between the Burton brothers.

Burton won 21 races in Monster Energy Cup and recalled he had to outwork his competitors.

Burton also said he’s grateful for the unwavering support of his wife and children.

He also said he learned valuable lessons from this community.

“The experiences I had in this community prepared me,” said Burton, who said the coaches here, taught him how to handle failure.

Burton won almost 50 national touring races in NASCAR, and eventually became known as ‘The Mayor’ for his work as an advocate for the sport of racing, including improved driver safety. Burton later moved into television and has been a success for NBC Sports.

Burton also pointed to the value of South Boston Speedway, describing the short track as a treasure that deserves the support of the community.

LEE ALSO FOLLOWS HIS FATHER: Lee became a baseball standout at Virginia after a stellar career at Halifax County High School, including playing for the 1984 state tournament champions.

He gave a gracious speech, noting the leadership of his father, Frank, an earlier Hall inductee, and his mother, Mattie Lee. Lee also noted the inspiration of his sister, Kelly.

His father taught him about sports and life lessons, and his mother remains a forceful inspiration and the matriarch of the family.

Lee also pointed to his teammates and earlier coaches, including superb encouragement from Comets like Chris Cole and Jim Priest. Scooter Dunn also had a major role in his life, and there were others, including Hall of Famer Will Hill.

Lee pointed to his youth coaches who had such an influence on him, followed by his coaches at the middle school and, later, Halifax County High School. Lee played for Palmore as a football standout, and, of course, this superb athlete was a major factor in the 1984 state title baseball run.

Lee also pointed to the influence of Frosty Owens, who led the Comets to the state crown. Owens stressed the fundamentals and tremendous conditioning for the run to the top of the ladder in 1984 on the state baseball scene.

Lee became a major success at the University of Virginia, but later ran into adversity with his struggles with multiple sclerosis.

He has battled back from those challenges. And Lee issued a challenge to keep family and community ties alive, as part of the successful framework in anyone’s life.

“Keep moving, keep living, and, most importantly, keep loving,” said Lee.

PALMORE REMEMBERED: Michaeleen Palmore was extremely gracious in accepting this prestigious honor for her late husband.

Palmore coached football for 49 years.

Palmore made a major effort to teach his young charges lessons on integrity and doing everything the right way.

Palmore had a successful career as a football player, as he was named MVP for Ferrum football in 1963 and a Junior College all-American in 1984.

The Palmore family turned out in force in support of the coach. Ms. Palmore cited an email from a former student, now living in Florida, who recalled the emphasis on integrity, acceptance of honest criticism and doing sports the right way.

Ms. Palmore urged everyone to follow her late husband’s legacy in service to young people.

WEDDLE WAS VERSATILE ATHLETE: The VMI Hall of Famer was a football and baseball standout here. He later established a major presence in baseball at VMI.

Weddle has a tremendous legacy as a hitter here, and eventually moved on to a record-setting career in Lexington.

Weddle still holds single season records at VMI for batting average, slugging percentage and RBI produced. He is second at VMI in career slugging percentage, third in career home runs, seventh in career RBIs, and eighth in career batting average. Weddle eventually was selected first team all-Southern Conference in 1985 and 1986 and also made the Virginia sportswriters all-state team in 1986.

Weddle devoted much of his acceptance speech to praise of his late father Don and brother, Kelly, for their inspiration and courage. He also lavished praise and affection for his mother.

And Weddle has justifiable pride for his children, now moving on to adulthood with a variety of positive accomplishment.

Weddle also draws inspiration from the courageous example set by his wife, Karen, for her battle with breast cancer.

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