The Duncan Banner
Growing up in Duncan, all Robert Greenhaw wanted to do was spend as much time as he could around a football field.
Greenhaw’s vision became a reality during his time at Duncan High School, as he was named to the Oklahoma All Southern All-State Football team his senior year and led the Demons football team to an appearance in the 1953 state title game.
Six decades later, Greenhaw will return to his gridiron-filled roots to be honored as one of the all time greats in Duncan sports history Thursday afternoon.
The former All-State center will become officially ingrained in the town’s sports lore forever when he is inducted into the Duncan Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It’s certainly a tremendous honor and it was something I was not expecting,” Greenhaw said. “Seeing the kind of athletes that have been inducted before makes you appreciate it.”
Along with his success in football – Greenhaw was even chosen as a captain for the West All-American Football game in Memphis in 1954 – the inductee also lettered in basketball and track.
The former Duncan star points to two moments when looking back on his career on the field for the Demons –playing in the West All-American game and the end of his junior season, when the Demons fell to Midwest City at state.
“I’ll always remember playing for the championship, it was just one of those games where we felt like we had a better team and did not expect to lose,” Greenhaw said. “Playing in that game in Tennessee, it was an opportunity I never would have dreamed of. It was an honor to play next to those athletes.”
Greenhaw also pointed to a game he mostly cannot remember, but still won’t ever forget.
“My senior year, my last game, was at Lawton. I got knocked out on the first play so I don’t remember much but it was special to me because my mother had come out to the game to watch me play,” Greenhaw said.
As his football career was just beginning at Duncan Junior High School, Greenhaw’s coach introduced a change that would alter the remainder of his career.
“I had been playing end at Duncan Junior High, and E.V. Rutledge said ‘look at the size of your hands, you should be a center,’” Greenhaw said. “I think that was his way of saying I was too slow to play there. Fortunately for me, making that switch worked out.”
For Greenhaw, Duncan became more than the town where he harnessed his skills on the field while growing up. The inductee remains most appreciative of the town’s residents who served as positive role models throughout his childhood. From coaches, to teachers to his peers, Greenhaw still raves about how blessed he was to spend the early years of his life with individuals who steered him in the right direction.
“I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the people I was surrounded with growing up who really loved me and wanted what was best for me,” Greenhaw said. “Duncan is an excellent place to grow up and I was fortunate to grow up around such wonderful people.”
One of those residents was Robert Vanlandingham, Greenhaw’s best friend off the field and teammate through their senior year together at Oklahoma State.
Vanlandingham had been scheduled to honor Greenhaw at Thursday’s event, but will not be able to attend because of an illness.
“Well, he was the best man at my wedding, we played together in junior high and high school and roomed together in college,” Greenhaw said. “I can’t begin to explain the influence he had on me. We were like brothers.”
Upon finishing his career with the Demons, Greenhaw was just getting started.
Playing along Vanlandingham, he became a three year letterman in football for Oklahoma State University, knowing the whole time his future would include future involvement with the sport.
While at OSU, Greenhaw was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in 1958 and completed two years active duty after graduation.
His path then returned to the world of sports, as he became the head football coach at Waller Junior High School in Enid. After spending two decades in the Enid system as an assistant and head football coach, Greenhaw worked at the Enid Athletic Director from 1975-1992 before retiring.
In his time at Enid, Greenhaw finally achieved that elusive state title, with three state championships coming to Enid in his time as a football coach and athletic director.
“One thing that drew me to football was the opportunity to compete, and I enjoyed being able to do that even after playing,” Greenhaw said. “I was always amazed at how much of a commitment athletes have to make when playing sports and it was such a reward seeing all those young men learning important life lessons at that level.”
Greenhaw said he has returned to Duncan for numerous high school reunions and returns to town once or twice a year. When he returns this time, the trip will serve a new purpose: giving Greenhaw the chance to look back at a successful career on the field and the upbringing that molded him into the person he is today.
“I’ve lived long enough now to know the importance of having the right people around you, that peer pressure, growing up,” Greenhaw said. “I consider myself blessed to have lived around those positive influences in Duncan who taught me the right way to live. I’m so thankful for that.”