Museum of the Gulf Coast welcomes newest members, including former Orange Leader writer

Published 10:39 am Monday, February 27, 2023

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The Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur inducted four new members into its halls of fame, with a couple of sports leaders highlighting the day.

The Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has strict criteria for entry — inductee’s roots must be in Southeast Texas or southwest Louisiana, their work must gain national attention, there must be a body of work and the work must receive general public recognition.

Tom Neal, the museum director, took center stage to introduce the inductees, with board members and the curator in attendance.

Curator Robert Fong, left, and Johnny Fuller stand alongside Fuller’s museum display. (Clayton Eaves/Special to The Leader)

The first sports inductee under the spotlight was Johnny Fuller, introduced by museum curator Robert Fong.

Fuller, a former NFL safety, played for the 49ers and Saints from 1968 to 1975.

Shedding tears, he thanked the crowd for their support, humbled by their attendance.

“I didn’t know this many people were behind me when I was sitting there in the front,” he said.

His words were brief, but his gratitude meaningful.

Fuller even took a moment to analyze his own performance at the podium, saying, “well, I’m not a public speaker,” but by his last word, he had moved the audience almost as fast as he could move on the football field.

The second inductee was sports writer Charean Williams, a cheerful journalist with a list of firsts to her name.

Williams was the first woman to receive a vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the first woman to serve as president of the Pro Football Writers Association.

She was also the 2018 Dick McCann Memorial Award recipient — the highest honor in her profession.

Williams is a lifelong Cowboys fan who achieved her dream by getting to work closely with the team for many years and described her job and where she is today as her lifelong dream and a fairytale growing up.

Dr. Sam Monroe, president of the museum board, left, presents a commemorative plaque to Charean Williams. (Clayton Eaves/Special to The Leader)

A fairytale with one small caveat, “The only villains were those that played against my beloved Cowboys, sorry Johnny,” she joked, as he chuckled in the front row.

Williams flexed her public speaking prowess, recalling memories of hunkering down through hurricanes and tornadoes. She made sure to mention, in her opinion, Babe Zaharias is the most outstanding athlete to ever rise from Southeast Texas — a statement met with cheers from those in attendance.

She expressed gratitude for her roots in Southeast Texas, never forgetting where she came from — mentioning the Orange Leader was her first job writing for a newspaper.

The crowd was also given a little surprise — highlight videos of Williams’ and Fuller’s careers.

Folks from all walks of life filled nearly every seat, oohing and ahhing as they watched Fuller chase down receivers from behind and Williams giving her expert opinions from the sidelines at

The celebration of deserving inductees was a fresh reminder of the world-class talent from Southeast Texas and beyond and the impact on the world of sports.

The ceremony will be posted on the official Museum of The Gulf Coast YouTube channel, so if you missed it, you can still watch it in all its glory.

— Written by Clayton Eaves