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Flat Rock mayor, HHS honor are reunited

Bob Staton, reunited with his Carolina Cup, which he won as an outstanding senior in the HHS class of 1954. Bob Staton, reunited with his Carolina Cup, which he won as an outstanding senior in the HHS class of 1954.

Bob Staton has no idea how his Carolina Cup got discarded but he is glad to be reunited with the award after 59 years.


Sponsored by the old Carolina Theatre, the Carolina Cup honored a top senior at Hendersonville High School. It was presented during the school's annual Move Up ceremony on graduation day.
"I remember I got four awards," said Staton, a retired attorney who has served as mayor of Flat Rock since 2007. "I got the Carolina Cup, which I certainly didn't expect. I was the Citizen of the Year, I got the Drama Award for my part in the senior play, and then I had a scholarship to Carolina." (He won the drama award in 1954 for his role in the senior play, called "The Little Dog Laughed.")
The cup honors a student for "excellence in character, citizenship and culture" —
"and my mother got a hoot out of culture," he said.
"I remember when I got it, my mother was of course very proud and she kept it on her mantle while I was in college and law school, and at some point after I was married and had moved into a house in northern Virginia it went with me and was stored in the basement," he said. "I never displayed it, and the last time I saw it, it was tarnished, almost black."
Fast forward to 2013.
A man walks into a bar. The bar has changed.
An architect in Washington, Bruce Trulio, frequents a restaurant and bar in Annapolis that had changed owners and gotten a makeover. Gone were the old signs and artifacts, like one might see at Binions Roadhouse or Cracker Barrel.
"When new owners came in they changed the décor, they did a little remodeling and his favorite bartender in that restaurant told him about the things on the mantle that had been thrown out and one of them was this trophy," Staton said. "And he asked the bartender if he could retrieve it, and he went out in the dumpster and found it and gave it to him, and he said, 'this looks like something that should be meaningful to somebody,' and that's when he started the effort to find me."
Thanks to Google and the fact that he could read the name — Robert Vincent Staton — Trulio got a hit right away.
"I found you on the Village of Flat Rock website so just as a shot in the dark in my effort to contact somebody I got the right person," the architect told the mayor.
Staton says he has no idea how the Carolina Cup found a home in an Annapolis, denies at any time going on a bender and showing his trophy around town. He thinks it could have been left behind in a move.
"I hadn't seen it in years," he said.
He's glad to have it back. His wife, Jo, wants to clean it up and display it.
Staton spoke with Tom Orr, the 1957 winner of the Carolina Cup and later an HHS teacher for 30 years, who provided more history of the cup. When the Carolina Theatre closed, the school feared the honor would dissolve. Tom Shepherd came to the rescue, suggesting that it continue in honor of his aunt, Cecil Shepherd Kessler, a longtime HHS librarian. It became the Cecil S. Kessler Cup in 1988, and continues today. The 2013 winner was Desean Jackson, who is headed to Limestone College on a partial football scholarship.