UPDATE: The fitness room has been renamed. Read all about it here.

The refurbished fitness center at Meyer Middle School has a long, new name: Roger T. White Pride Fitness room as presented by RCU (Royal Credit Union).

Chuck Eaton, Rocky Branch Elementary School principal and on the Pride Fitness fundraising committee, said they wanted to acknowledge two large, gift-giving partners.

From the Roger T. White family, the group got $15,000.

And $10,000 came from RCU, which has a branch in River Falls at 1150 N. Main St.

Eaton said he’s thrilled with the new name.

“I didn’t know Roger White personally, but he was an outstanding athlete that embodies all the great principles of fitness and athletics. We couldn’t have had a better choice.

“And Royal Credit Union provided such great support in a large donation, we wanted to honor it too in the naming.”

Eaton recently made a presentation to the school board that  had to give its stamp of approval to the new name. He told the board a little about Roger T. White:

  • Born in 1931, he graduated from River Falls High School in 1949
  • He worked summers at the Concord Fence Company which White said made him strong.
  • He played basketball on a team that won nearly all it’s games.
  • White said he could beat his opponents at rebounds because he was so strong.
  • Besides White, his high school team included Roger Kuss, Arthur Johnson, Jerry Carter and Jim Tobias.
  • White graduated from River Falls State College and when on to the UW-Madison Law School.
  • He spent most of his law career in California.

The entire $100,000 for the new fitness room has been raised by private donations with none of it coming from the school district budget. Eaton said the fundraising committee is still about $26,000 short of its goal.

The group has worked with 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment for new equipment needs.

The fundraising committee is very close to completing the second and final phase of the fitness center upgrades.

Once the remaining $26,000 is raised, weight machines and stationary bikes will be added.

As far as the long name goes, Eaton speculates it will likely be shortened to the White Pride Fitness Room -- a name, he says, attached to a good role model for the kids who use the room.

To donate or see more photos go to www.buildpridefitness.org

Read the full story in the Jan. 28 print edition of the River Falls Journal.