WC recognizes outstanding alumni at annual luncheon
Weatherford College recognized John Forrest as its Alumnus of the Year and Distinguished Alumni Award honorees Harvey Catchings and David G. Rogers at the 2023 Alumni Awards Luncheon held Friday, April 14, in the Emerging Technologies and Workforce Building.
Forrest, a 1987 graduate of Weatherford High School, earned more than 30 hours of credit at WC before completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree at St. Mary’s University. He has served as the Parker County Attorney since 2001 where he oversees the criminal prosecution of misdemeanors, the domestic violence unit, the child protective services unit, mental health cases, civil cases, and criminal and civil appeals.
He previously received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and is the past president of both the Weatherford Rotary Club and Optimist Club. He has also served on the boards of the United Way of Parker County, Freedom House, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County and the Weatherford ISD Education Foundation.
“And folks, that's just a thimble full of the things he does,” said Raul Nevarez, Forrest’s friend of 30 years who introduced him to the audience. “He participates so much in what goes on in the community. If you don’t know who John Forrest is, this is your first day in Parker County.”
Nevarez said Forrest is patient, a great listener and does a wonderful job representing the citizens of Parker County. Many times, when the two friends are supposed to go to lunch, Forrest will reschedule because he’s on his way to help someone in need.
“Half the time I call him, he’s at the college,” Nevarez said. “And I’m like, ‘John, you graduated!’”
Forrest knew he wanted to be an attorney by the time he was in the seventh grade, and his parents told him WC was the right place to begin his career path. He said the courses and teachers were amazing and more personal than the 400-student classes he found at UT.
“A lot of people in this room gave me guidance; Mac Smith, Dan Carney,” Forrest said. “It’s great that we have them on the board guiding the college. The college is easily the heart and soul of Parker County. This community would not be what it is without Weatherford College.”
He talked about attending career days and how many teens who can go to college anywhere they like to choose WC because their parents know the importance of the college. He also talked about the truancy cases he deals with—teens in single-parent homes where mom or dad may not have a job or are on drugs, and they don’t have a plan for their future.
“A lot of them come to Weatherford College,” Forrest said. “It’s their path out of that model. It is so important that Weatherford College is here. So whenever there is something you can do for them, please do it. Look at what they do for us.
“I will continue to be out in the community and support Weatherford College in any way I can. And I would encourage kids that this is the best path to get where they want to be in the future.”
Catchings, the only known WC alumnus to play in the NBA, earned all-state awards on the drums in high school for three years before he decided to try basketball. However, he left the court after six games because he felt the coach wasn't "desirable."
When it was time to go to college, he visited with coaches at UCLA who directed him to then-WC basketball coach Bill McDonald so he could develop his skills. Catchings stopped in Weatherford on his way back to his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, to visit the campus and was offered a scholarship the next day.
“Why? Because I was 6 feet, 6 inches tall. So, you know, who wouldn’t take a risk,” he said laughing. “I went from being obscure from the standpoint of knowing the game of basketball to actually making the all-conference team my first year here.”
He played one season (1969-70) at WC before basketball was temporarily cut from the athletic program. But that didn’t stop his game. Catchings received 60 scholarship offers from NCAA colleges around the country.
“That was God,” he said. “You don’t go from playing six games in high school and then get to that point and then, further on, make it to the NBA.”
Catchings transferred to Hardin-Simmons University where he scored more than 1,200 points and pulled out 837 rebounds. He was named honorable mention All-American in 1972, third-team All-American in 1973 and 1974, and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science.
In his 11-season career in the NBA as a 6-foot-9-inch center/power forward, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers. He played in three Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals.
He had more than 1,200 blocked shots and is one of only 43 players in NBA history to have 10 blocks in one game. He is the Bucks all-time blocks leader, ahead of the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He later broadcast Chicago Bulls games on the radio, worked in mortgage lending and served as a national spokesperson for the NBA "Stay in School" program. Today, Catchings owns a promotional products company.
Rogers was nominated for the Distinguished Alumnus Award by longtime WC administrator JC Colton. Colton bragged about Rogers' academic achievements and involvement in establishing a chapter of the Webb Historical Society.
“When JC called me three months ago saying, ‘I’ve got something I want to put you up for,’ I was nervous,” Rogers said. “I thought back to 1977 when JC called me [and said the same thing].”
The phone call 43 years ago ended up with Rogers and a friend riding horses in a centennial celebration down Palo Pinto Street with cars zooming past them at 40 miles per hour.
“So, when he called me, my mind went right back to that,” Rogers said. “And I thought, ‘This can’t be good!’”
Rogers graduated from WC in 1976 with a perfect grade point average and transferred to Texas A&M where he completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, graduating summa cum laude.
He was awarded the prestigious Henry Ross Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and was a member of the honor fraternity Gamma Sigma Delta.
Rogers praised many of his former instructors including Brad Tibbitts, Fred Bruton, Jerry Sadler and Max Ratheal.
“They did a great job, and I felt like I was prepared to go to A&M,” he said. “The courses I had here were as hard as any of them I had at A&M.”
While at WC, Rogers made many lifelong friends including Mark Tackett who he developed get-rich-quick schemes with as college students, including milking rattlesnakes for venom and trying to corner the gumbo market by raising okra and tomatoes.
“Everything was going great until we came back one day, and the cutworms had cut all [the tomato plants] down to ground level,” he said. “After that, we decided we probably just need to go to school.”
And WC was there to prepare him for that next step.
Rogers is currently the regional president and senior vice president of all commercial real estate lending for West Texas National Bank in Alpine. He is past president of the Sul Ross State University Foundation.
Before moving to West Texas in 2007, he was an active member of the Weatherford Noon Lions Club and served as lieutenant and corral boss of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse. He also served on the Parker County Homebuilders Association Board of Directors.