The memories of Charlie Jenkins roll off the tongue of classmate Richard Berger as if he is recalling something from earlier in the week.
But the fellow 1962 graduate of White Plains High School was thinking back to the early '60s, when Charlie "The Train" Jenkins was emerging as one of the top football players in the area. But it isn't necessarily the on-field accomplishments—and there are plenty—that Berger remembers most. It's the person Jenkins was, and how classmates have decided to remember him.
Since 2001, the Charles Jenkins Annual Award is given to a White Plains graduate every spring. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship for embodying the traits of sportsmanship, friendship and caring for the community Jenkins is known for.
"Whenever there was a choice to do something, Charlie always chose to do the right thing," said Berger, recalling a time Jenkins stood up for a classmate at a bus stop. The classmate said he was surprised Jenkins even knew who he was, Berger explained, but "The Train" stood up to a group of bullies because it was the right thing to do.
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"He was humble, he had a genuine concern for everyone," Berger explained.
Jenkins passed away in 1995 after living in the Westchester area most of his life. The scholarship was created six years later and has been funded through donations from the class of '62.
"Everybody knew about Charlie because of his athletic prowess, but what made me start the award was because he was so nice to everybody," said Berger.
A three-sport athlete at White Plains High School, Jenkins earned his nickname "The Train" as a three year starting fullback for the varsity football team. From 1959 to 1961 the powerful back set all kinds of records from the team's backfield. He ran for 1,800 yards in one season and once scored 10 touchdowns in two games.
"He was an outstanding athlete," said Berger.
The class of 1962 will celebrate its 50th reunion this fall. The weekend's festivities will include a visit to White Plains High School for a varsity football game on Sept. 29. During the game the class hopes to spread the word about their scholarship and try to garner some support from the community.
It will also be a chance for the class to share stories about their lost classmate; and, as Berger explained, there are plenty.
"Everybody that encountered him had the same feeling," he said. "That's why when he passed away it was that aspect of him as a person that made me want to start this."
For more information about the scholarship, and how you can help, click here.