category: Faculty Emeriti - In Memory Of

Launita ‘Lonnie’ June Eye Proctor

Professor Emerita of Physical Education

Launita “Lonnie” June Eye Proctor

Launita “Lonnie” June Eye Proctor (1929 -2014) was born in Rantoul, Kan., to Dr. Boyd Franklin and Mary Jane Sutton Eye. She and her two brothers were reared in Philadelphia, Pa.

Proctor spent her early years just outside of Philadelphia until moving to Missouri. She graduated from Central High School in Kansas City, Mo., and said that teaching was a profession she felt led to, especially physical education. Lonnie once said she remembered all of her physical education teachers, especially the one in fourth grade who said, “Someday, you’ll amount to something in sports.”

Lonnie earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in physical education and health. She earned her master’s degree in religious education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1957 and her Master of Education degree from Texas Christian University in 1959. In 1978, she earned an Educational Specialist degree from Appalachian State University and went on to complete her Ph.D. in adaptive physical education from Vanderbilt University in 1981.

She began her teaching career at Hickory Grove Elementary School in Mission, Kan., where she taught health and physical education for three years. While she was working on her master’s degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, she taught at Northside High School. During a summer break, Lonnie met her husband, Dr. Dan Proctor (1933-2014), at a Sunday night church service in Kansas City, Mo. They were married in 1955. In 1957, Lonnie began teaching at Forest Oak Junior High School in Fort Worth, Texas, where she remained for three years.

Lonnie and Dan had four children; Stephen Duane, Daniel Boyd, Mary Joanne, and Rebecca Loeen. In 1966, Lonnie began teaching health and physical education at North Greenville University in South Carolina where she taught three years. In 1969, the doors opened for her to come to Gardner-Webb, where she began teaching health and physical education.

Noel T. Manning, II, now GWU associate vice president for Communications and Marketing, was one of Proctor’s former students. He recalled her kind and calming spirit. “She cared for her students and for their success, inside and outside the classroom, even beyond graduation,” Manning offered. “I can attest to her dedication to the University and to the population she taught. She was one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and her legendary contributions to Gardner-Webb and Cleveland County have established a foundation worthy of recognition and honor.”

While teaching at Gardner-Webb, Lonnie attended a workshop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about making the community better for disabled people. She began working with her college students to organize a Special Olympics program for the mentally disabled. On a budget of $6,000 per year (funded by donations and a grant from the Kennedy Foundation), she and her students created, implemented, and produced this program from scratch. Approximately 35 of her former students forged careers working with the disabled due to the program, which she managed for 20 years (1972-1992). Awarded and recognized nationally for her work with the Special Olympics, she was also one of the first women inducted into the Shelby (N.C.) Athletics Hall of Fame. She also received the Jefferson Award for her work with Special Olympics (1989).

Proctor wrote articles for Church Recreation; Journal of Health, Physical Education and Recreation; and Delta Kappa Gamma. In addition, she wrote a first-aid workbook to supplement the “Red Cross First-Aid Handbook.”

Proctor retired from Gardner-Webb after teaching for 24 years and was selected faculty emerita of physical education in 1992. She was further honored by Gardner-Webb by being inducted into its Athletics Hall of Fame.

Proctor will forever be remembered and valued for her impact on the lives of students, said the late Dr. Dee Hunt, a longtime GWU faculty member and administrator. “As a professor, she was demanding, gracious, and fair, and the students would scramble to enroll in her classes,” Hunt shared. “Dr. Proctor was a model of grace, service to others, a compassionate educator, my friend, and certainly a legacy for all who knew her.”

She received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1992. She viewed retirement as another stage of life and an opportunity to do worthwhile things to help other people. During her lifetime she was involved in her church, where she taught a young women’s Sunday School class. She also continued to participate in Delta Kappa Gamma. She was active in United Way, Council on Aging, and Hospice. For years she and her husband traveled to Charlotte once a month to participate in a Pheresis program. (Blood platelets from this program go to cancer patients at Duke and Bowman Gray Hospitals). She received the American Red Cross’ Lifetime Blood Donor pin (32 gallons). She was named Cleveland County Woman of the Year in 1991, the Cleveland County Commission for Women’s Distinguished Woman Award in 1996, and received the Mayoral Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

She participated in the Senior Games at the local, state, and national levels for many years after her retirement. She attended numerous state and national meetings of the Senior Games. She participated in the National Senior Games in 1996, winning gold medals in high jump, shot put, and doubles badminton; a silver medal in singles badminton; and a bronze medal in horseshoes.

All of her life Proctor strived to be an example of her Christian beliefs. This prompted her to say that she ultimately hoped to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Source: Personal Interview—Joyce Poplin

Updated: Dr. Dan and Lonnie Proctor, Dr. Darlene Gravett, Noel T. Manning, II, Matthew Tessnear, and The Gardner-Webb Office of University Communications (August, 2014 – February 2015)

Updated: Noel T. Manning II, Dec. 2022

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