The story of Rollie Rinker is a true American success story. He originated from a very humble beginning and made a commitment at an early age to be successful in life. Success did occur and Perryton is all the better for it. Through his career as a top-shelf educator and administrator, he spread his wisdom to generations of school kids and made several schools better.
Through his 17 years of teaching and coaching, he also obtained his master’s of education degree from West Texas State University in 1977. Then came a very special phone call from George Zoller, who was the Perryton ISD Superintendent. Rinker appreciates the opportunity that Mr. Zoller gave him to be an administrator.
Tell us a history of your life? “Let me tell you the story about a young boy I know. When he was 10 years old, he decided that he was going to be a teacher. Now some folks will tell you they were poor when growing up but never knew it. Well, this young man knew he was poor. He lived in an unpainted house with no electricity and no running water.
“He helped his mother on laundry days when she heated water outside in a big black wash pot in the backyard. He walked everywhere he went because he never had a car.”
He went on to say that this boy’s father never went to school and couldn’t read or write. But he taught some very important lessons about life to his 11 children. At an early age, the boy learned that when his father told someone he would do something, he did it. “A man’s word is his bond,” his dad would say, “Always give an honest day’s work.”
Rinker continued his story. “This boy saw his dad work in the fields from sunrise to sunset. But he never saw him work on Sundays and would be the first one at their small country church.
“One day his father came home with an old barrel hoop and worn out basketball that couldn’t hold air. He nailed the hoop against the house and tossed the old basketball to the young boy and his brothers. And so, began the boy’s love affair with the game of basketball. He never imagined that one day it would give him the opportunity to go to college.”
Years later, The boy looks back on those early days and remembers all the folks who gave value to his life: the neighbor lady who let him crowd into their old red pickup to go to church, the English teacher who convinced him to keep reaching for his dream, the coach who encouraged him to go to college, the man who bought him his first pair of dress slacks and a new shirt for graduation, and especially, the man who watched a tall, lanky boy play in a basketball tournament and recommended him to the coach at Wayland Baptist College in 1956.
Rinker says softly, “I was that boy.”
What is the proudest achievement of your life? “Besides having a full scholarship to provide for my college education, it was at Wayland that I found Ann, who became my best friend and life partner. I believe our greatest accomplishments have been surviving 60 years together; plus seeing our two sons, Gary and John Mark, become fine Christian men who with our lovely daughters-in-law, Kim and Jennifer, are raising five amazing grandchildren: Lisa, David, Kevin, Tori and Emily.”
Tell us something that we would be surprised to learn about you? “One thing that will surprise you as much as it did us, happened my senior year as a Wayland Pioneer. A man asked Ann how it felt to be married to an All-American basketball player. She was completely puzzled until he showed her the sports page announcing my receiving that honor.”
Tell us your earliest memory of Perryton. “When we came to Perryton, Gary, who got his first basketball at the age of two, was now an eighth grader and eager to become a Ranger. John Mark was a second grader, and one time told his teacher that he thought doctors wore masks in the operating room to keep from throwing up on their patients.”
What is the best job you ever had? “My first two years here, I was assistant high school principal for Kenneth McKay. My main job was discipline, which usually involved the issue of the boys’ long hair. The school board set the boys hair code at just the bottom of the ears.”
Rinker relays the story of two young men appearing in his office one afternoon. The boys had been in an altercation on the track and Rinker tried to get to the bottom of the issue. The facts were sketchy at best as he worked through the stories. One boy finally elaborated that he punched the other in the face after claiming that he did nothing at first. Rinker gave him a puzzled look.
The boy stated, “Well, I didn’t do nothing right at first, I paused. And then I hit him in the face.”
Once he got to the bottom of the issues, Rinker asked what they thought the punishment should be. They agreed a spanking was in order but first gave Rinker the compliment of being an excellent principal.
Later after sharing the story with his boss, Mr. McKay asked if he had spanked the boys. Rinker said, “I have two students in this school who tell me they heard I was a good principal, and you think I’m going to whip them!”
What special memories do you have of Perryton? “Our eight years here were filled with so many special memories: especially the numerous round trips of 200 plus miles to watch our favorite Ranger basketball player. John Mark probably slept as much in the back of our Dodge maxi-van as he did in his own bed. And who could ever forget 1981, the year we went to state!
“My teachers at Central Elementary were so dedicated and every day was a new adventure. What a joy to return to Perryton in 2001 for our retirement years. Of course, by this time, some folks had gotten so old it was hard to recognize them! Especially all those who insisted I’d given them swats.”
Rinker looped back to his story saying, “I don’t think I told you the reason that I decided at age 10 to become a teacher. You see, all the teachers I knew drove nice cars and lived in really nice houses so I knew they must be rich. I was in the school business for 43 years, and most folks would think I never got rich.
“But you know, I have changed my childish perception of what it means to be rich. Because I am rich in ways that money can’t buy such as a lifetime of helping young people attain their goals and become contributing members of their communities. Definitely times of laughter and tears, joy and frustration, defeats and victories… and through it all, I can say that if I had to do it all over, I’d do it all over again. Life has been good.”
Rinker appreciates his profession. “A commendation I would give to teachers today is my belief that other than the call of God to become a minister is the commitment to invest your lives in the lives of young people,” he said.
What advice would you give the younger generations? “My challenge to young people is to recognize the opportunities and blessings you have to live in the United States of America. Always remember that if you don’t want to learn, no one can help you, but if you want to learn, no one can stop you!”
(If you have suggestions for articles you would like to read on area residents, please call or text Randy Skaggs at (806) 202-0187 or email email@example.com.)