One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”.
The post below is the story for June 28, 2015. My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Yesterday was the official start of Lumbee Homecoming in Pembroke, NC. This week long festival began in 1968. Homecoming for the Lumbee Tribe is a tradition that was created 47 years ago to celebrate this American Indian group of people rich history and culture.
Homecoming is especially important in that it brings together members of families, many from great distances, for a weeklong celebration of the Lumbee culture. Festivities include a parade, a pow wow, pageants, bike rides, different athletic competitions, and other cultural events.
One of the first events of Lumbee Homecoming is the 7th Annual bike ride. This event is a 20 mile ride and had nearly 50 participants on Saturday morning. The ride each year celebrates someone in the community and this year’s recipient was UNCP retiring chancellor Kyle Carter. I was on my way to campus to take care of some weekend office matters and I got to watch the participants pass on by. It made me reflect on the growing importance of fitness and health to each year’s Lumbee Homecoming.
As I thought about that a number of factors entered my mind on the reasons that this festival continues each year to emphasize events or components that stress the importance of fitness and health. As I went thru a list of reason I came up with education and the most important. The Lumbee people have always placed a high value on education. That value is the reason that UNC Pembroke is standing today. That value gave hope, direction, and inspiration to group of people that they could improve their lives through education.
I realize that the bike race was also a product of the NC highway 711 having a bicycle lane built on it. I also realize that the founder of the Tri-Warrior a fitness group in Pembroke had an influence but all of those reasons get tied back to value education which will get you to value fitness. There are many families that are actively engaged in participating in Lumbee Homecoming.
I have always had close ties to one of those families and it was no shock to me that during yesterday’s bike race I saw two senior members of that family participating in the bike race despite having ages in the 70’s and 80’s. The family is the Oxendine’s and the two riders were Ray and Louis Oxendine. I have written previously about Chancellor Joe Oxendine on February 21, 2015.
I got to really get to know this family in 1989 when Joe Oxendine became the Chancellor at UNC Pembroke while I was serving as basketball coach. While he was chancellor I remained as basketball coach at Pembroke until 1992 when I left to become the basketball coach at Winthrop in Rock Hill SC. I was indebted to Chancellor Joe Oxendine for his belief in me as a leader when he offered me the opportunity to become the university’s athletic director in 1998.
Over time I got to know his family and ever encounter with the family the value of education came shining thru. In getting to know the family I began to appreciate the leadership of Joe’s brother Ray. When I became the athletic director I regularly would participate in the Lumbee Homecoming 5K and the Oxendine family especially Ray would have his family out in full force. Ray’s daughter was married to a marine officer and that entire family would run in the race. His grandchildren were all fit as a fiddle and you could see that fitness was important to the family.
Ray Oxendine and his twin sister were the youngest of eight children born to Tom and Georgia Oxendine. One of those siblings was his oldest brother Tom Oxendine who was in the inaugural hall of fame class at UNCP. Tom was the first American Indian pilot in the US Navy.
Ray grew up among a large, extended family in a small farming community just outside of the Town of Pembroke. When he decided to attend Catawba College and play athletics, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Joe Oxendine, class of 1952. Ray spent his career in education as a teacher, a football, baseball, wrestling and track coach, an assistant principal and a principal at various high schools across North Carolina. These schools included Mount Airy Senior High, Greensboro’s Grimsley High, Hallsboro High, Acme-Delco High, East Montgomery High, West Montgomery High, Purnell Swett High, South Robeson High, Scotland High and East Laurinburg Academy.
His awards and honors are numerous. He was inducted in to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2002 and is a member of the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame and the N.C. American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame. He was named Principal of the Year in 1992-1993 by the N.C. High School Association of Administrators, and was Principal of the Year for the Montgomery County Schools in 1985. In 2005, he was one of four individuals selected by Catawba’s Alumni Association Board of Directors to receive a Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Of all the awards Ray has garnered he would not trade any of them for his family.
The Friend-RAY OXENDINE
he Friend of the Friend-THE OXENDINE FAMILY
Valuing Education, Fitness, and Friendship
The Oxendine family just did not value education they also valued the importance of fitness and athletics. I could give you a hundred examples of the family’s rich athletic history but just say it includes multiple athletic Hall of Fames, a stint being a professional athlete, and a brother Louis who is 80 years young who still rides his bicycle ever morning down highway 711 just outside of Pembroke. Joe Oxendine lives today in Pinehurst and still kayaks every day the weather cooperates.
The Family will be out in full force for Lumbee Homecoming and they always have a big family cookout on the last day of Lumbee Homecoming. If you every get to meet this family you will know that you are around special people who value education, fitness, and friendship.
I am glad my path got crossed with the Oxendine family.