On Saturday, September 29, 2018, Boys Home of Virginia hosted its 21st annual Hall of Fame Banquet in the Ben Parrott Dining Hall, located on the campus of Boys Home in Covington, Virginia. This honor is given to those who have either made a difference in their communities because of Boys Home or who have made a difference at Boys Home. Following a dinner attended by students, members of the staff, and invited guests, three individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame. The inductees were Wayland F. Grubbs, Thomas “T.J.” Jones, Jr. and Bernard “Bud” Syme. Boys Home Executive Director Donnie E. Wheatley served as master of ceremonies.
Wayland F. Grubbs was the first inductee. The presentation was made by daughter Anita Harris who spoke about her father as her hero. Wayland was a resident of Boys Home from 1957 to 1960 where he was active as a basketball player and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 66. He returned to his home community of Lynchburg prior to high school graduation. He married at eighteen and his wife, Linda, was present to see her husband accept the award. When Mr. Grubbs spoke, he talked about the importance of faith and family and how both have impacted his life, especially when he got married and he and his wife created a home together. Mr. Grubbs addressed the current Boys Home students and urged them to not be discouraged during times of difficulty. He offered them a message of hope as he described his efforts to get an education and how he pursued various certifications in the trades field. Mr. Grubbs became a certified contractor, received a license to preach and serves as an ordained deacon at Living Word Baptist Church in Forest, Virginia. Mr. Grubbs ended his acceptance of the award by encouraging the students at Boys Home, urging them to not become discouraged, but to persevere and pursue their dreams.
Thomas “T. J.” Jones, Jr. was the second inductee. T. J. was a resident of Boys Home from 1983-1991. He played varsity basketball, football, and was on the track team at Covington High School where he graduated in 1991. He also played on the Boys Home varsity basketball team. Pastor Scott Reece, senior pastor at Goshen Baptist Church (VA) talked about his relationship with T. J. and how he considers him a brother at heart. He used each letter in the word “brother” to paint a picture of T. J.’s characteristics as a husband, father, and friend. Pastor Claudette Wilcher of Bell’s Valley Worship Center spoke about how T. J.’s experience at Boys Home has led the congregation of Bell’s Valley to choose Boys Home as a mission of their church, benefitting not only the students at Boys Home, but blessing the congregation of Bell’s Valley as well. Then, Mr. Wheatley read a stirring letter from Mr. Mike Vogel, vice president of operations of Van Wyk, Inc. T. J. drives a transport truck for Van Wyk and Mr. Vogel wrote of T. J.’s dedication to his job, his strong work ethic, and his value to Van Wyk, Inc. as an employee. In honor of T. J.’s induction into the Hall of Fame, Van Wyk, Inc. made a donation to Boys Home which will include a bronze plaque in honor of T.J. Boys Home Support Services Director Bobby Trice introduced T. J. When T. J. addressed the crowd, he talked about Boys Home as a place that provided security for him as a boy, giving him a clean bed to sleep in and three meals a day. He reminisced about playing football for Covington High School and being impacted by the leadership of Boys Home, including being tutored by Mary Wheatley, who taught him not just how to read better, but how to understand what he read and how that has positively impacted his life. T. J. accepted his award with his wife, Tammy, and was also accompanied by daughters Maddy and Hannah.
The final inductee was Bernard “Bud” Syme, a longtime friend and supporter of Boys Home. Ever since Bud heard about Boys Home via a presentation made at his church years ago, he has been a tireless advocate for the organization. He has been a board member, treasurer, and fundraiser on behalf of Boys Home, beginning his service in 2005 and continuing to the present. Mr. Wheatley presented Bud with his award. Bud’s wife, Boolie, and Blair, his daughter, shared the experience with him. Bud graduated from Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Randolph Macon College. He served his country in the United States Army and the National Guard from 1968 to 1976. He was self-employed in the retail tire business from 1983 until 1989 and is currently the owner and manager of Telcom Consulting Group. Bud has been active in both Christ and Grace Episcopal Church in Petersburg and Galilee Church in Virginia Beach. He served on the city of Petersburg’s planning commission and has been active in the Porsche Club of America and the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. He has been a member of the Country Club of Petersburg and Princess Anne Country Club. When he spoke, Bud contended that the Boys Home story convinces others to become involved in the mission, and he has found that telling the Boys Home story is easy. Bud has invested generously in Boys Home with his time and resources and had encouraged many others to do so. Bud has proven to be a steadfast friend and ambassador to this mission over the last thirteen years and his impact will continue as he works to educate and influence others as to the purpose and value of Boys Home of Virginia.
Mr. Wheatley shared some closing remarks prior to dismissal. It was a special evening filled with inductees, families and friends, and students of Boys Home. Thanks to each of these individuals who have lived in such a way to have been inspirational to others and who have made a difference at Boys Home. We are grateful for your investment in the mission of Boys Home of Virginia.