E&H Mass Comm Student Story: Logan Greear breaks the news of Rose Houk’s appearance in a documentary

Posted by Monica Hoel
This is part of a series of stories by members of the 2022 E&H Mass Comm 302 Class. 

Lauded E&H alumna, Rose Neese Houk, Class of 1981, says she’s incredibly honored to  participate in a documentary about Gina Renee Hall and the historic “No Body Murder Conviction.”

When Rose Houk attended Emory & Henry she majored in physical education and took summer classes to make her semesters easier, allowing her to go out dancing with friends on Tuesday nights since there weren’t classes on Wednesdays. First-year student Gina Hall, one of her closest friends, was a constant dancing companion until Hall transferred to Radford University in search of more fitting classes.

Soon after she transferred, Hall wrote and said she’d found an appealing Marriott nightclub near Virginia Tech, and that she and Houk should go—but before Houk could go dancing with her friend again as she’d planned and wanted to, Hall went missing.

“When Fred Selfe pulled me out of a summer class and told me that Gina was missing, and that it was all over the news since foul play was suspected, I was in total shock,” Houk said. “Just this immediate, intense sorrow; how could someone hurt sweet Gina?”

Houk recently participated in a documentary about the infamous case and Ron Peterson Jr.’s best-selling novel Under the Trestle: The 1980 Disappearance of Gina Renee Hall & Virginia’s First “No Body” Murder Trial. Even though Gina’s sister listed Houk as a character witness in the original trial, Houk never had to testify; so, in the film she recounted how she remembers Hall and their time at E&H.

“I felt honored to speak about Gina,” Houk said. “Even though I don’t know the specifics of the actual case much beyond what the news has said over the years, all I did was speak about ‘the Gina’ that I knew at E&H.”

Like how the two of them met through a big-sister, little-sister program that paired upper-class women students with first-year women students to help them navigate college life, or how Hall was “the nicest, kindest person with the biggest heart around,” and would have never gone somewhere with someone she didn’t know, Houk said.

“I think she was a victim of abduction and murder,” Houk added. “I’ve always thought that, because there’s no way she would go somewhere, willingly, with someone she didn’t know. Part of me wishes I’d been there that night, but I wish for closure for her family more, because she was never found.”

Houk “hopes and prays” that Stephen Epperly, a former Virginia Tech student convicted of Hall’s murder, doesn’t get out on parole since he’s tried to appeal every year he’s been eligible.

After graduating from E&H and mourning the initial loss of her friend, Houk went on to have a storied 40-year career as a physical education teacher at Galax Elementary School and a record-shattering 31 years as volleyball coach at Galax High with 364 total wins, including district championships in 1986, ’88, ’99, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’09, and ’10. The Galax team even made it to the state final four in 2011 and won the State Sportsmanship Award Trophy under Houk’s leadership.

Additionally, Houk served as the director of the Virginia All-Star program for volleyball from 2004-2019 and served on the Virginia High School League Sportsmanship Committee at the state volleyball tournament from 2007-2013. She also held the prestigious Bob Bertucci Volleyball Camp, which hosts teams from across the globe, for over 15 years at Galax High. And, in 2012, the year Houk retired so she wouldn’t miss her son’s football games at E&H, she was featured on the cover of the Virginia High School Coaches Association magazine.

“She is phenomenal … She’s one of the most, if not the most, caring mentors, teachers, and coaches I’ve ever had,” said Alicia Wharf, Galax Elementary librarian, in a feature on Houk published by the Galax Gazette last June.

Her devotion to the Galax community and her students and players is trumped by only one thing: her devotion to E&H.

“I was incredibly proud and humbled to receive the Fred Selfe Distinctive Service Award in 2017,” Houk said. “There’s just something about that E&H bond; I meet E&H people wherever I go, including Disney World and Hawaii, and I don’t know a stranger, but even if I did, I know E&H people would strike up a conversation no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other, or if we never really knew one another!”

The honor is awarded annually to an E&H alumni who has given considerable service to the college.

Now in her retirement years, Houk volunteers as much as she can within the Galax community and, in ways large and small, tries to keep Hall’s memory alive.

“Gina’s memory will always be kept in my heart,” Houk emphasized. “She touched my life and our friendship was truly a blessing.”

Story by Logan GreearE&H Class of 2023B.A. English: Creative WritingB.A. Mass CommunicationsN...

Story by Logan Greear
E&H Class of 2023
B.A. English: Creative Writing
B.A. Mass Communications
News Editor of the Whitetopper

  • Rose Neese Houk (E&H ’81) is pictured here with the film maker on the left, Scott Mactavish, famed prosecuting attorney Everett Shockley, and the author of Under the Trestle, Ron Peterson.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2043-betty-sexton-has-opened-a-barbecue-restaurant-in"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.jpg" alt=" Betty Sexton Emory & Henry Class of 1987 " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1369,1364/10356_betty_sexton.rev.1633520591.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1369" data-max-h="1364" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2043-betty-sexton-has-opened-a-barbecue-restaurant-in">Betty Sexton Has Opened a Barbecue Restaurant in Richmond</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Betty Sexton is ready to Smohk the competition.</span> <a href="/live/news/2043-betty-sexton-has-opened-a-barbecue-restaurant-in" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2191-ashlee-griggs-rector-loves-being-a-nurse"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/191,145,985,939/10796_269308837_689528192461925_5141171863114002798_n.rev.1644160607.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/191,145,985,939/10796_269308837_689528192461925_5141171863114002798_n.rev.1644160607.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/191,145,985,939/10796_269308837_689528192461925_5141171863114002798_n.rev.1644160607.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/191,145,985,939/10796_269308837_689528192461925_5141171863114002798_n.rev.1644160607.jpg" alt="Ashlee Griggs Rector E&H Class of 2013" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/191,145,985,939/10796_269308837_689528192461925_5141171863114002798_n.rev.1644160607.jpg 2x" data-max-w="794" data-max-h="794" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2191-ashlee-griggs-rector-loves-being-a-nurse">Ashlee Griggs Rector Loves Being a Nurse</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Ashlee Griggs never imagined herself in the field of nursing, but now she’s a registered and nurse and says, “I can’t imagine doing anything else.” <a href="/live/news/2191-ashlee-griggs-rector-loves-being-a-nurse" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1130-gerald-caldwell-isnt-your-typical-boss"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,3,418,422/7383_IMG_0893.rev.1580224605.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,3,418,422/7383_IMG_0893.rev.1580224605.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,3,418,422/7383_IMG_0893.rev.1580224605.jpg" alt="Gerald Caldwell (E&H Class of '90) sipping coffee at The Coffee Shelf." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="418" data-max-h="419" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1130-gerald-caldwell-isnt-your-typical-boss">Gerald Caldwell Isn’t Your Typical Boss</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> But this coffee shop owner has found success in doing things differently. <a href="/live/news/1130-gerald-caldwell-isnt-your-typical-boss" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>