Ruben Gomez - Inductee - 2007
Ruben Gomez was one of the most loved and respected coaches and teachers in Mason County. He coached track and cross country for 37 years at Mason County Eastern and Ludington high schools where his team won many league titles. “One year in high school, I had Mr. Gomez for shop, for vocational agriculture, as a Future Farmers of America advisor and for Spanish. Then, to top it off, the following summer I took drivers training and Mr. Gomez was my instructor. He was also my track coach,” said Jim Shoup. Born in New Mexico, he graduated from Menaul School in Albuquerque. He served in the Navy in World War II aboard an old World War I era-four-stack destroyer. After the war, he resumed his education at New Mexico State. He then served as a livestock inspector for the government in Mexico, a demanding and dangerous profession, before embarking on his career in education. He came to Custer in 1953 and methodically began building that school’s track and field program. Under Gomez’s direction, the team built a track and its own equipment. Gomez was a good middle distance runner and a member of a state championship team in high school. He later became very adept at coaching distance runners. “We used to take anyone who had the courage to go out and finish four laps,” he said. In 1963, he accepted a position at Ludington High where he remained until he retired in 1984. Coaching track and field, he also reinstituted cross country and over the years developed a long string of outstanding distance runners who took their talents to the college level. He and his late wife, Rita, raised two children, Dan and Dora. Gomez had an insatiable appetite for education. During his teaching career, he continued his schooling at Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, Central Michigan University and West Shore Community College. He had two majors and five minors. He married again, to Anna Lenora Fisher Velasquez, who survives. Gomez was inducted into the Menaul Hall of Fame in Athletics and also to the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998. “Ruben had the unique ability to motivate any type of athlete,” said former Mason County Eastern school superintendent Ron Nurnberger. “That was his strength. Every athlete who participated for him, he could motivate. That’s a characteristic that only the great coaches have, no matter if they coached in the ‘50s or the ‘90s.” Gomez coached in both of those decades and all the rest in between. On March 7, 2006, Ruben Gomez passed away at the age of 83.