Thank you, Jeff, for your kind introduction. President Lindgren, baseball alumni, friends of Randolph Macon, coaches and players. Thank you for all being here to help celebrate this new field.—My family and I are very honored to be a part of this.
I would like to start by saying a few words about my family, in particular Alise and Robey Estes, for whom this ballpark is named. My parents were from very humble roots. My mother grew up in Clarksville, Virginia, with a desire to become a teacher—a dream she fulfilled after graduating from Mary Washington College with a degree in elementary education. My father was raised on a farm just outside of Chase City, Virginia, and as with many people who lived through the Great Depression, he learned to not only appreciate the value of a dollar, but also to recognize what was really important in life—one’s family, a sense of integrity and enjoying the satisfaction that came with a job well done. It's ironic that Robey and Alise met between their two home towns in a small community known as Boyton, Va--the town that Randolph Macon originated.
Robey never lost his perspective about those basic values, which were naturally encouraged by my grandparents-Webb Wallace Estes or lovingly known as WW by his friends and Gladys Berry Estes. My grandfather and grandmother were both very resourceful people who supported 6 children during the Great Depression by doing a lot more than just farming. For instance, Granddad frequently used his farm equipment to grade land for construction projects, and my grandmother sold eggs and butter they produced on the farm. An ice tea glass was often saved from lunch to dinner if there was sugar left in the bottom.
My grandfather, WW, took a trip from Chase City to Richmond in a used Chevy truck to deliver farm produce in 1931. This truck had no windshield and he used an egg crate as a seat. It was too expensive to travel home without a payload, so, on the return trip, he brought several cans of paint to a friend in Chase City. He quickly realized that this sort of delivery service might one day be something everyone would rely on, and Estes Express Lines was born. He farmed and delivered freight for about a year and decided he could not do both--so like any smart businessman---he flipped a coin. Heads trucking--- tails farming. We are all glad it landed on heads. To me it is amazing that WW's dream began with 1 truck in Chase City, Va and is now Nationwide with over 13,000 employees.
Much of the company’s success is due to my grandfather’s values, carried forward by my father Robey, and are still a part of the Estes culture today. My dad was wounded 3 times in World War II and believed that God spared his life so he could come home and give good people good jobs. Integrity, a commitment to hard work, and a genuine care for those that work alongside you--- have come to define both the business and our family. I want to publicly thank all of the Estes employees-for without their hard work day in and day out, loyalty and pride in their work -- this donation could never have been possible.
My parents also understood and appreciated the value of education. My father attended the University of Richmond for a semester before he was called by WW to come home to help with the business. And as I mentioned, my mother began a teaching career after studying education at Mary Washington. Both of my parents encouraged their 3 children to go to college and supported us throughout our college years and beyond. As a result, I followed in my mother’s footsteps and taught school-- a physical education teacher for many years.
That’s why it is my family’s honor to support educational projects that mirror the values of our family. In particular we are thrilled to help support athletics at schools like Randolph-Macon College because sports give students the opportunity to learn firsthand that hard work, dedication and teamwork all lead to positive results. These values are my parents’ legacy, and I am honored that this new facility will celebrate their lives.
A lot of hands made this possible, and I’d like to acknowledge the contractors and work crew that labored tirelessly on this project- Please stand and be recognized. Laura Doherty gave me a tour of the field back in December, and I know that many hours and much planning went into the construction of this beautiful facility. A monetary donation is important in a project like this --- but the real credit should go to the contractors and coaches for the time, energy and planning that they put in to this state of the art park.
I’d also like to acknowledge Coach Ray Hedrick and his assistant coaches, Travis Beazley and Daniel Rollins. These three men spend countless hours with their players both on and off the field, and I know my son is just one of many young men that benefit from their hard work, dedication, and commitment to this program. Thank you all for everything you do, and good luck today.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my friends and family who are with us today. In particular, I’d like to introduce my children, Alise Estes Witt, David Wallace Witt and Jonathan Robey Witt. It is my desire that They--- this next generation will carry on the legacy of educational support and giving back to your community that started with my parents. If Robey Estes were here today he might say to this baseball team-Boys-give 110% -- practice like you play--and always, always respect adults-especially your parents. If Alise Estes were here today she might say Boys play hard but not until your homework is done and that paper is finished. And I say as a representative of the Estes family--- in making this donation--Our goal--- was so that you could reach yours.
It is my honor to be here today and be a part of this ceremony. I hope Estes Park brings joy to baseball teams and Randolph-Macon fans for decades to come.