Merrill “Duster” Thomas
Year Inducted: 1973
Schools / Organizations: Pinckneyville High School
Biography: Merrill “Duster” Thomas is a Southern Illinois coaching legend at Pinckneyville, winning 495 games, losing only 118 for an 82.4% winning edge. He coached a State Championship team in 1948 followed by sex straight teams to the State Tourney from 1951-1956. Coach Thomas had four teams to finish 3rd in the state (1947, 1953, 19564, 1955), and his Pinckneyville teams set a then state record of 58 consecutive home wins. Among his many honors was the time he served as the President of the State Coaches Association. The gymnasium at Pinckneyville High School is named after Coach Thomas. He passed away on February 18, 1981.