Festus R-VI Hall of Fame Inductee - Keith Herbert Vinyard
2016 Festus R-VI Hall of Fame Recipient
Mr. Keith Herbert Vinyard
Keith Herbert “Herb” Vinyard was born August 17, 1959 in Festus, to Elizabeth A. “Betty” (nee Strother) and the late Keith Byrd Vinyard, both FHS graduates. He is a 1977 graduate active in band, yearbook staff, rocket club and football, and he worked as a photographer and darkroom technician at the Courier News in Festus.
He attended one year at Jefferson College where he worked as school photographer for the Office of Public Information. He then moved on to Central Methodist College where he played football and rugby and graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
After college he returned to Festus to work in the family business, becoming the fourth generation family member to work at Vinyard Funeral Homes, which was started in 1907 by his great grandfather Thomas S. Byrd, Sr. He received his funeral director’s license in 1985 and took responsibility as company president in 1993. In 2006, he built and opened Jefferson County Cremation Services in Pevely. Herb provides the community with a service built upon caring, compassion, and honesty during a time of his patrons’ emotional distress and weakness.
His leadership within the community is evident. He is a 31-year member and advisory board member of the Festus-Crystal City Rotary Club, where he served as the club’s president for its 50th anniversary year in 1994-1995. In 2001, he took over the inherited volunteer position of president of the Presbyterian/Methodist Cemetery Association in Festus. He was an area inline roller hockey coach for ten years, and an assistant Twin City Little League football coach.
His volunteer efforts range beyond the local community. After the flood of 1993, Herb volunteered to work in the Hardin Cemetery near Kansas City, where approximately 800 graves in the cemetery were washed away. A massive recovery, identification, and reburial operation was conducted. Herb and his father, Keith, were presented with Distinguished Service Awards from the D-Mort #7 division of the National Disaster Response Team for their work to research, survey, document, and plat the cemetery. This was paramount in establishing an accounting of who was in the affected and non-affected areas of the cemetery which had never been platted before. Afterward, he completed FEMA’s Mass Fatality Disaster Response Training and is thankful our area has never needed it.
As a boyhood hobby, Herb flew model rockets and radio controlled model airplanes. At age 15, he competed and won the national rocket meet for his age division. Twenty-eight years later, he introduced his sons to the hobby and returned to competition with them at the 2003 national meet. He has represented the United States as a flyer, mentor, and supporter on the U.S. team traveling to the World Space Modeling Championships held in Kazakhstan (2006), Spain (2008), Serbia (2010), Slovakia (2012), and Bulgaria (2014). He received a bronze team medal flying in the S8 radio-controlled rocket glider event in 2006, and was instrumental in mentoring the 2010 junior team in the same event (Herb’s son Craig was a member) which earned the only gold medal a U.S. Junior team has received.
Also, when returning to the hobby in 2003, The Aerospace Industries Association and National Association of Rocketry had just begun the “Team America Rocketry Challenge” for high school age groups. Herb brought the program back to mentor local student teams to design, build, test, and launch model rockets that must fly to a specific altitude, stay aloft a specific time, land safely carrying raw eggs as a payload, and repeat the process in any safe wind condition. FHS entered starting in the fall of 2005. Between 700 and 800 teams will enter each year, but only the top 100 preliminary scoring teams are invited to attend the finals each May near Washington D.C. FHS qualified to attend the finals eight of the ten years it entered. Some of the notable accomplishments were: 2009 – 2nd place; 2010 - winners of the National Craftsmanship Award; 2011 - 8th place; 2012 – 3rd place; 2014 – 13th place. Many of the students of this extra-curricular program have pursued science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) college studies, and military and civilian careers.
Herb’s wife of 31 years, Sally taught band and music education for 27 years at Festus, retiring in 2015. She also served as the Rocket Club’s school sponsor. Their three grown sons, Keith, Scott, and Craig, all attended Festus R-VI.