Pride, Poise, Perfection. Words that have resonated in the halls and campus of St. Bonaventure High School for many years and with good reason. This small school located in the heart of Ventura has built a reputation arch by arch, earned its glory yard by yard, and developed a sound tradition, year by year. The school proliferated in spite of all naysayers.
In the athletic years of 1967-1972 some terrific dedicated athletes and coaches passed through thee locker room of sports at SBHS leaving their accomplishments firmly entrenched in the history and lore of the school. You have heard the hallowed named of Ben Herrera, Jerry Stone, Tony Luna, Mark Stephenson, Larry Montag. The pennants that hang in the gym signify the early football and baseball championships that these names wrought.
Accomplishments no other school in Ventura had achieved in that time. Their initial pride, poise and perfection is still a source of inspiration for the current athletes at St. Bonaventure and will continue on for many more years.
However there is one individual that is sadly overlooked in the history of St. Bonaventure, sports and otherwise. This person never gained a yard. Never made a tackle. Never got a base hit. Never ran a sprint. Never made a layup. He also never missed a practice. Never missed a game. He always arrived early for practice and always stayed late.
Officially Robert, lovingly nicknamed “Duck” was our recorder of statistics. But he was so much more. Physically unable to play sports due to a heart condition at birth Robert inspired all of us to be better than we actually were. His unbridled enthusiasm for our accomplishments was an awesome and important part of our championship teams. If all of us had his spirit, we never would have lost any game at any sport. Recently a bit of Robert’s past was brought to light by his brother Carl. At a 1968 CIF play-off game at Harvard, after Luna’s “Miracle Run,” Robert’s excitement got the better of him. He passed out and had to be taken via ambulance to a local hospital. Additionally during a 1968 football team 40 year reunion it was agreed by many that if we weren’t naïve 17 year old kids we would have disdained protocol and voted “Duck” MVP of the football championship team.
Most importantly, when Robert passed away years ago, his Green and Gold pride ran so deep he was laid to rest wearing his St. Bonaventure High School letterman’s jacket.
St. Bonaventure spirit? I dare you to find a better role model for school spirit. Robert “Duck” Melhorn, without a doubt, is the epitome of what a Hall of Fame member should be. Pride, Poise, Perfection. Robert held all three to the highest standard.
The above is reprinted from the nomination letter sent in by Hall of Fame Member Tom Van Gundy. One of the many letters sent in on behalf of Robert “Duck” Melhorn.
INDUCTED IN 2009
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