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Tom Emberton, Edmonton, KY to receive top WKU honor

Favorite son of Metcalfe County, Tom Emberton will be joined by Bill "Doc E" Edwards and Dr. Chester C. Travelstead as the the 2016 inductees into Western Kentucky University's Hall of Distinguished Alumni
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From Western Kentucky University Alumni Association

A beloved WKU athletic trainer and mentor, a retired Chief Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and a nationally recognized educator will join WKU's Hall of Distinguished Alumni this fall.

Bill "Doc E" Edwards, the Hon. Tom Emberton Sr. and Dr. Chester C. Travelstead will be inducted during WKU's 2016 Homecoming celebration. The 25th class of noted alumni will be recognized during a luncheon at 11amCT, Friday, October 21 at Sloan Convention Center, 1021 Wilkinson Trace, Bowling Green, KY 42103.

Bill "Doc E" Edwards ('74, '76)

A veteran of Ohio Valley and Sun Belt conferences, and now Conference USA, Bill "Doc E" Edwards, was named Head Athletic Trainer at WKU in 1983, after six years of service as an Assistant Athletic Trainer. He was named an Associate Athletic Director-Director of Athletic Training and Sports Medicine in 2009. Countless student-athletes and student athletic trainers who have worked with him during his almost 40 years at WKU count him among their most significant influences during their time on the Hill.

Under Edwards' leadership, the program has grown from a staff of three to 12 Certified Athletic Trainers who provide health care for all 16 WKU sports teams. In addition to the athletic training staff, Edwards coordinates a large group of sports medicine specialists (team physicians and physical therapists) to ensure appropriate, timely and state-of-the-art health care for WKU student-athletes. Many of these professionals were attracted to WKU not only by the outstanding athletic programs, but by the exemplary reputation of Edwards and his staff. In addition to his daily athletic training duties, Edwards has served as a faculty member since 1977 and teaches in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport at WKU.

When he arrived on the Hill in 1970, Edwards began working with athletes as a Student Trainer. A Physical Education major and Health Education minor, as well as a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity serving as President in 1973-1974, he received his B.S. in 1974. He went on to receive his M.A. in Secondary Education and Health Education from WKU in 1976. He is certified as an Athletic Trainer with the National Athletic Trainers Association, a designation he has held since 1975. He is also a Licensed Athletic Trainer through the State of Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.

In 2011, Edwards was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Trainers Society (KATS) Hall of Fame. He served as Treasurer of the KATS Board of Directors for many years. He is a member of the Alumni W-Club Board of Directors and has served as Treasurer since 1996. His many career accolades include serving as a member of the Hilltopper Hall of History Committee and being named Volunteer of the Year for the Alumni W-Club.

He is married to the former Jennie Willoughby, and they have two daughters, Faith and Rachel. Between them, the family has six WKU degrees. Including Faith's husband, Corey Johnson, and Rachel's fiance, Will Conley, that degree number totals eight.

Hon. Tom Emberton Sr. ('58)

The Hon. Tom Emberton Sr. is a retired Chief Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Following a four-year tour of duty with the United States Air Force, Emberton enrolled at WKU. While at WKU, Emberton became active in a number of University activities. He was named Business Manager of the College Heights Herald, and was elected President of his sophomore and junior classes. He was also elected President of his fraternity, The Thirteeners, which through a change in University policy later became Delta Tau Delta.

Following his studies at WKU, Emberton was accepted to the University of Louisville School of Law in 1959. He continued his willingness to serve in leadership roles throughout law school, serving as President of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity and President of the Student Bar Association.

Upon admission to the Kentucky Bar in 1962, Emberton began the practice of law in Metcalfe County and was elected County Attorney in 1964, serving until 1967 when he was recruited by newly elected Gov. Louie B. Nunn to serve as Nunn's Executive Assistant. In 1971 Emberton was nominated as the Republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky, losing in the general election to then Lt. Gov. Wendell Ford.

In 1987 Emberton was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals by Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. He was re-elected twice and in 2002 was elected by his fellow judges to the office of Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, a position he held until his retirement. Following his retirement, he continued to serve as Senior Judge for a number of years.

He is also a former member of the WKU Board of Regents, a Past-President of the WKU Alumni Association, and recently retired from the College Heights Foundation Board of Directors after 22 years of service. Emberton is a recipient of the William H. Natcher Award for Distinguished Service in Government from the Barren River Area Development District, as well as the Jim. C. Coleman Community Service Award from the Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce. In 2007 the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet named the Thomas D. Emberton Bridge in Metcalfe County in his honor.

He is married to the former Julia Lee Crutchfield, who has three degrees from WKU, and the couple lives in Edmonton, Ky. They have two children, Laura and Tom Jr., both of whom have degrees from WKU and have followed in their father's footsteps with service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Dr. Chester C. Travelstead ('33)

Dr. Chester C. Travelstead was a nationally recognized educator.

After his graduation from Bowling Green High School and the Kentucky Military Institute, Travelstead enrolled at what was then Western Kentucky State Teachers College. While at WKU, Travelstead served as a yell leader for the Topper Squad and was a member of the band. He graduated in 1933 with a major in French and minors in English and Music, and he later earned his M.A. in Music from Northwestern University and his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Kentucky. He met his wife, Marita ('34), at WKU, and they had two sons, Chester and Jimmie. His mother taught Music Education at WKU for 44 years.

Following several years as a professional jazz musician in New York and then several in public school administration, Travelstead was commissioned into the United States Navy in 1943 and was a communications officer on an attack transport in the Pacific.

He began his higher education career in 1951 at the University of Georgia, before becoming Dean of the School of Education at the University of South Carolina in 1953. After the 1954 Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision, Travelstead delivered an on-campus speech titled "Today's Decision's for Tomorrow's Schools" to South Carolina teachers attending a summer conference on teacher education. In it, he cited integration as one of the challenges facing public schools, and he stated, "We as educators of the South must begin to prepare for integration." This talk led to Travelstead's dismissal by the University's Board of Trustees.

In 1956 he became Dean of the University of New Mexico's College of Education. At the time of his hire, UNM President Tom Popejoy said Travelstead's support of integration and dismissal at South Carolina was more of a recommendation than an indictment. Travelstead completed his career as UNM's first Provost and retired as Provost Emeritus in 1977. During his career, he served on several national higher education accreditation boards.

In 2003, the flagship building of UNM's seven-building College of Education complex was named for Travelstead. In 2005 a seminar room at the University of South Carolina was named for him, and the Travelstead Courage in Education Award was created. Following Travelstead's retirement, he remained active in civic and cultural areas, serving in such diverse capacities as Chair of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and a member of the governor-appointed, statewide Judicial Standards Board. He continued in leadership roles in New Mexico until his death in 2006.

For more information, contact the WKU Alumni Association at 270-745-4395 or visit

This story was posted on 2016-06-21 04:48:04
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Tom Emberton, Edmonton, KY among WKU alumi honorees

2016-06-21 - Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY - Photo from Western Kentucky University Alumni Association.

Members of the 25th class of WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni will be inducted October 21. The 2016 inductees are from left Bill "Doc E" Edwards, the Hon. Tom Emberton Sr. and Dr. Chester C. Travelstead.

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