Francis Albert Schmidt – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 24, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the fifth and last of the members of the OCHF Class of 2014:

 

Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.

Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.

He has been called one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  He forever changed both college and professional football with his invention of the I-Formation and sowing the seeds for the West Coast Offense.  And, he was born in Downs, Osborne County, Kansas.  We welcome Francis Albert Schmidt to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis was indeed born in Downs on December 3, 1885.  His father, Francis W. Schmidt, was an itinerant studio photographer.  His mother, Emma K. Mohrbacher, a native Kansan.  Francis and Emma would have one other child, a daughter, Katherine.

Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.

Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.

As a photographer the elder Francis stayed in a particular location for only a few years before moving on.   After stops in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas, the family was living in Fairbury, Nebraska, when young Francis graduated from Fairbury High School in May 1903.  A year later he enrolled in the University of Nebraska.

Francis participated in football, baseball, basketball, track and the cadet band at the University of Nebraska while earning a law degree in just three years, graduating in 1907.  Due to his mother having a serious illness Francis put aside his law career and helped his father with the photography studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, and taking care of his mother, who died later that summer.  He helped the local high school football team that fall, as they had no coach, and even coached the boys and girls high school basketball teams that winter, leading the girls (with his sister Katherine as the center) to an undefeated season and the Kansas state championship.

For the 1908-1909 school year Francis was offered the position of high school athletic director.  He held it until the spring of 1916 and continued to coach both football and basketball with amazing success.  Then Henry Kendall College in Tulsa Oklahoma, hired him to be their football, basketball, and baseball head coach.  His time there was interrupted by World War I, through which he served as a military instructor in bayonet, rising to the rank of captain. After the war he returned to Henry Kendall College (later renamed the University of Tulsa) and his 1919 football team roared its way to a record of 8-0-1.  In the 1919 season Kendall defeated the vaunted Oklahoma Sooners, but a 7-7 tie with Oklahoma A&M that year prevented a perfect season.   Francis became known as “Close the Gates of Mercy” Schmidt because of his team’s tendency to run up the score on inferior teams. During Schmidt’s three years at Kendall the football team won two conference championships as they defeated Oklahoma Baptist 152-0, St. Gregory 121-0, and Northeast Oklahoma 151-0, as well as a 92-0 defeat of East Central Oklahoma  and 10 other victories by more than 60 points each time.

Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.

Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.

It was around this time that Francis married Evelyn Keesee.  The couple would have no children.

Francis was then hired to be the head football, basketball, and baseball coach at the University of Arkansas , where he compiled a 42-20-3 record in football for the Razorbacks from 1922-1928 and a 113-22 record in basketball – winning four Southwest Conference Championships in basketball in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 – as the school’s first-ever such coach.

From Arkansas Francis went on to become the head football coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) where he won nearly 85% of his games. Schmidt did everything to extremes, including recruiting. He refereed high-school football games, but spent much of his time telling select players why they should commit to TCU in the days before athletic scholarships.  In five years at Texas Christian, 1929-1934, Francis compiled a 46-6-5 record and won two Southwest Conference championships.

At this time Ohio State University was a backwater in terms of major college football.  Desperate to build a winning program, they took a chance on Schmidt, their third choice for the head coaching job.   At 6 feet 2 and 200 pounds, Schmidt was a large man with a prominent nose and distinctive drawl.  Schmidt used his World War One bayonet drill instructor experience in running his practices.  This, together with a loud, raucous and colorful approach to the English language, created an imposing character the likes of which had never been heard on the serene and conservative Ohio State campus. “He was Foghorn Leghorn in a three-piece suit and bow tie”, recalled one former player.

Schmidt arrived in Columbus on February 28, 1934. Within hours, the coach had distinguished alumni, faculty members and reporters on their hands and knees combing the carpets of a hotel conference room. Asked for his offensive strategies, the Downs, Kansas native dropped to the floor, pulled nickels and dimes from his pockets and diagramed his innovative visions for the Buckeyes. The Columbus Dispatch columnist Ed Penisten depicted the bizarre scene:  “He was a zealot, full of excitement, confidence and quirks. Converts began to join him on the floor including OSU assistant football coaches.  He moved the nickels and dimes around like a kaleidoscope.”

Francis soon proved his genius for offensive football.  In his first year at Ohio State he stunned the opposition by displaying – in the same game – the single wing, double wing, short punt and, for the first time ever, his own invention: the I-formation.  He used reverses, double reverses and spinners, and his Buckeyes of the mid-nineteen thirties were the most lateral-pass conscience team anyone had ever witnessed.  He threw laterals, and then laterals off of laterals downfield, and it was not unusual for three men to handle the ball behind the line of scrimmage.   In his first two years he got touchdowns in such bunches that Ohio State immediately was dubbed “The Scarlet Scourge.” He was a bow-tied, tobacco-chewing, hawk-faced, white-haired, profane practitioner of the football arts – modern football’s first roaring madman on the practice field and the sidelines, and so completely zonked out on football that legend ties him to the greatest football story of the twentieth century:

So caught up was Francis in his diagrams and charts that there was hardly a waking moment when he wasn’t furiously scratching away at them.  He took his car into a filling station for an oil change but stayed right in the car while the mechanics hoisted it high above the subterranean oil pit to do their work.  Francis Schmidt, immersed in his X’s and O’s, simply forgot where he was.  For some reason he decided to get out of the car, still concentrating on his diagram.  He opened the door on the driver’s side and stepped out into the void, which ended eight feet south of him in the pit.  He refused to explain the limp which he carried with him to practice that day.

At Francis’ first football banquet after a sensational first season capped by a glorious 34-0 shellacking of Michigan, Schmidt bawled forth two classic and historic comments.  “Let’s not always be called Buckeyes,” he brayed.  “After all, that’s just some kind of nut, and we ain’t nuts here. It would be nice if you guys in the press out there would call us “Bucks” once in a while.  That’s a helluva fine animal, you know.” Ringing applause. And then:

As for Michigan – Well, shucks, I guess you’ve all discovered they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.” Bedlam.  It was the apparently the first time the homely Texas line had ever been uttered in public and it swept the nation.  It also launched a “Pants Club” at Ohio State; ever since 1934 each player and a key booster who is part of a victory over Michigan is awarded a tiny little golden replica of a pair of football pants.

The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.

The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm is given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.

The Ohio State Buckeyes became a national sensation in 1935. They won their first four games, setting up an undefeated showdown against Notre Dame. The game attracted a capacity crowd of 81,018 and has been often called “The Game of the Century.”  The Buckeyes surged to a 13-0 lead, but their advantage vanished in the fourth quarter. The Irish scored twice in the final two minutes to beat the Buckeyes 18-13. The Buckeyes regrouped and won their final three games, including a 38-0 pasting of Michigan, to win a share of the Big Ten title – their first in 15 years.

Schmidt, however, was haunted by the Notre Dame loss. It was the first in a string of big-game losses, and critics started to question whether his reliance on laterals, shovel passes and trick plays worked against top-quality opponents. Schmidt never worried about “getting back to basics,” because he didn’t stress them. His long practices were light on fundamentals such as blocking and tackling. Perhaps fueled by paranoia, Schmidt didn’t delegate authority, which often reduced his assistants to spectators at practice. He kept the master playbook locked away; players’ copies contained only their specific assignments and no hint at what their 10 teammates were doing. Among his shortcomings, Schmidt never understood the importance of mentorship and discipline. In Schmidt’s last seasons, key players became academically ineligible; others showed up late to practices. Team morale suffered. After the 1940 season in which the Buckeyes won four games and lost four, Schmidt resigned amidst heavy criticism from both fans and the administration.  His total win-loss-tie record with the Buckeyes was 39-16-1 with two Big Ten championships.

The only position that Francis could then find as a head coach was at the University of Idaho.  In 1941 his team posted a 4-5 record, and in 1942 they finished 3-6-1.  Then the school suspended football because of World War II.

Francis never coached again, ending with a college coaching record of 158-57-11.  He stayed on campus to help condition service trainees, but barely a year later he fell into a long illness and died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, on September 19, 1944, at the age of 58. Francis was laid to rest beside his parents in the Riverview Cemetery at Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas.

The legacy of Schmidt has endured thanks to Sid Gillman, a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who was a Buckeye end in the early 1930s and an assistant under Schmidt.  Gillman is considered the father of the modern passing offense, and specifically the West Coast Offense which he used as a head coach.  He always gave credit to Francis Schmidt that the principles of that offense were based on what he was taught by Schmidt.  Gillman’s teachings had significant impact on the careers of later National Football League icons such as Al Davis and Bill Walsh.

Francis Schmidt’s imprint on the collegiate game remains well into the modern era as well. In the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State used three trick plays – a hook and lateral, Statue of Liberty, and wide-receiver pass – to stun Oklahoma 43-42.  Schmidt had made all three plays famous while using them at Ohio State.

75 years after Schmidt coached his first game at Ohio State, a new book profiling his life was published. Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) examines not only his career but also his effect on the modern game

Francis Albert Schmidt was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.  He is also a member of the Halls of Fame at Nebraska, Tulsa, Arkansas, Texas Christian, and Ohio State. And now he is the newest member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.

Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.

Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis.  Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.

Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis. Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.

News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University.  Courtesy Caroline Cain.

News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University. Courtesy Caroline Cain.

The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Courtesy of Caroline Cain.

The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy of Caroline Cain.

Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.

Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.

 

Schmidt Francis Albert tombstone

The grave of Francis Schmidt in Arkansas City, Kansas.

SOURCES: Barbara Wyche; Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins, (University of Nebraska Press, 2009); Columbus Dispatch, Thursday, September 3, 2009;  Topeka Daily Capital, May 16, 2012; The Spokesman-Review, November 6, 2009; University of Arkansas Athletics Hall of Fame; University of Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame.

Lila Marie Leaver – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 20, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the fourth of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014:

 

 

(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, May 31, 1973, Page One)

 Lila Leaver Thinks Teaching is the Greatest Profession

By Dave Magruder

Leaver Lila Marie portrait photo    Lighting and enlightening the way for Osborne County folks for almost 70 years best describes the activities of the Lila Leaver family.

She retired in 1972 as a long-time Osborne school teacher and her mother was also an early county rural instructor. Her dad brought electricity to the area when he Introduced Delco light plants in 1914 and later displayed the first commercial radio set in Osborne about 1922.

At age 64, she says 57 of those years have been spent in a classroom either as a teacher or student and 52 of them were experienced in Osborne. And, she thinks teaching is the greatest profession there is. Pointing out that the Lord sent his son, Jesus, to teach Religion and the Methodist faith have played almost as important roles in her life as schools and education. She was baptized when a few weeks old and starting as a sixth grader she has a continuous span of 52 years holding Sunday School classes.

“I guess it was taken for granted I was going to become a schoolteacher. I was always a great admirer and worshiper of teachers while I attended school and, of course, my mother taught and she was a good influence. It has always been my life,” she explained.

When Lila was born February 9, 1909 – the first of two daughters – her father, Martin, was farming east of Osborne in Penn Township. The Leavers moved to town in 1914 when the dad acquired the Delco sales and service territory that included Osborne, Smith, Mitchell and Rooks Counties. Along with setting up the gasoline powered energy producing plants with their rows of storage batteries, he would also wire homes and buildings.

For rural folks in most of the region, this was the only electric power available until REA energy came along in the 1930s.

His unveiling of the first radio in the county was a howling success, so to speak. It was an Atwood-Kent set that oldtimers will recall came with a large attached speaker. The wireless was displayed at the county courthouse for one and all to hear. Hooked up to a storage battery, the great moment came for the set to be switched on to the then only radio broadcasting station in America, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania.

Lila laughs in recalling the sum total of the reception was squawks and squeaks and the only thing that saved the day came when an announcer’s voice [on November 2, 1920] rose above the din to say: “This Is KDKA, the Westinghouse station in Pittsburgh.” That was a thrill to hear a voice transmitted from so far away as perhaps seeing the first spaceman step on the moon.

Her dad was also in the plumbing and heating business prior to his death in 1929.

The mother, the former Ethel Woodward, was a Glasco girl, who after graduating from high school there came to the Osborne area to teach after taking tests for a certificate. Two of her brothers and a sister went to her as students and they were given to understand at the Woodward household, they would give their sister no static in the classroom.

All of Lila’s preparatory studies were in Osborne schools, graduating from high school in 1927. She went on to the University of Chicago to win a Ph B degree, bachelor of philosophy. In 1931 the sun was shining pretty bright for the young educator as she came home and signed a contract to teach history and government at Plainville High School for $14 a month that fall.

It is interesting to note that her college education was worth about $100 a month, since other teachers around the county without benefit of higher learning were being paid about $40 a month at the time.

However, not all was well even with teachers who were college educated. What with the depression and drouth conditions. She was not offered a new contract the following term as the Rooks County system decided to get along with less staff members in order to cut the budget. In fact, she found that teachers with degrees and only one year of experience were not in much demand, so she was among the horde of unemployed until the fall of 1933 when she became a fifth grade instructor in the Osborne elementary school, starting at $70 a month.

She held that position nine years before being elevated to the high school level once again, instructing history and government studies as well as a class in the junior high 15 years. Her high school tenure was to last 30 years and she ended her career with a salary of around $700 a month, which tells the story of the drastic changes in economics of one career. Lila’s association with Osborne schools has been liberally spiced with the sort of service that is a part of the industry out of the classroom that is assumed goes along with teaching.

All nine years of the grade school stint saw her act as a Girl Scouts leader. She has sponsored all of the high school classes along with coaching class plays. In addition to the latter activity she wrote and produced pageants and programs for the grades and high school, relating to special events, holidays and local history.

She remembers the eight years she was sponsor of the junior class and carried the added responsibility of arranging for the junior-senior prom. There was no dance, with the emphasis on a dinner banquet and program entertainment. The meal was prepared by home economics girls and teachers and all of this wasn’t as near the problem as it was to raise the necessary $75 to $100 to pay expenses during the hard times

For several years she assisted with the Girl’s Reserve, the prep arm of the Y.W.C.A. and later headed the program when it became Y-Teens for 10 years. She also was sponsor 12 years for the Kansas State Activities Association youth agenda in Osborne. Another one was supervising the Alpha Club, a scholastic honorary.

It may seem strange what with teachers getting con­tracts out of high schools and even grade schools, but when Lila got her bachelor sheepskin from the University of Chicago, she couldn’t teach in Kansas without a summer of work in the state and she took this at the University of Kansas.

She attended summer school at the University of Colorado in 1942 and three years later began work on a master’s degree first at the University of Michigan and then at Fort Hays State College to be close to home as her mother was ailing. The advanced degree was awarded in 1952.

Being near her widowed mother was one of the com­pelling reasons she remained in Osborne so long as a teacher. However, she said the [Great] Depression setback at the start of her career taught her a lesson of staying where one had a job and after the hard period was past, she had grown to like what she was doing among her own people.

After the mother passed away in 1959, she bought a smaller home to better suit her needs.

There have been many highlights along the way such as the summer she taught at the Girl’s Industrial School at Beloit in remedial reading. “I learned a lot myself, especially the eye opener that all the girls didn’t come from big cities.” she said “It gave me, too, understanding what the school was trying to do for the girls.”

Other learning experiences have come through world travel along with jaunts in the U.S.A. On one tour she visited ten European nations and another was an around-the-world affair that touched 11 countries, affording the opportunity to visit in diplomatic circles and with foreign government leaders.

Last fall, she took an 8,000-mile bus trip through Canada in 35 days and in the future hopes to visit the Holy Land and Mid-East, a trip she had planned during the time war broke out there years back.

A side benefit from her travels has come from her photography hobby, showing slides in educational programs at school and to civic and social groups.

In 1946 Lila participated in a workshop at the University of Kansas and studied effects of the atomic bomb on society.  She wrote a resource unit called “Citizenship in the Atomic Age” for use in the Kansas high schools.  Lila was asked to address the 178th District Rotary International Conference at Abilene on the atomic bomb in 1955.

In 1962 she received the Freedom Foundation Valley Forge Teacher’s Medal for promotion of citizenship and patriotism. She was recom­mended for the honor by the Osborne VFW Auxiliary.

 

 

(Osborne County Farmer, October 4, 1962, Page One)

Teacher Medal to Lila Leaver

“Miss Lila Leaver, local big school instructor, has been recognized to receive the Valley Forge Classroom Teacher Medal, according to Stanley Abel, high school superintendent.

“There are 266 American teachers named to receive this national recognition and only three of them from Kansas. Osborne is most fortunate and honored in having a recipient in Miss Leaver.

The award is given for exceptional service in furthering the cause of responsible citizenship, Patriotism, and a greater understanding and appreciation of the American Way of Life.

“All recipients of Freedoms Foundation awards are designated by a distinguished jury composed of state Supreme Court justice and the national heads of patriotic veterans and club organizations.  Nominations are submitted by the general public. Here in Osborne the VFW Auxiliary is responsible for entering the names for nomination.

“Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge was founded in March 1949. It is a non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian organization created to bring about a better understanding of the basic principles underlying our Republic with its democratic methods.

“Miss Leaver has taught social science in the Osborne school system for the past 29 years and is beginning her 30th year this fall. Prior to Osborne, she taught one year at Plainville.

“The presentation of the medal will be made at a later date, according to Mr. Abel. On behalf of Osborne County we extend our thanks to this outstanding teacher for her significant work.”

Lila said it was a thrill to be honored at an open house by Osborne teachers when she retired a year ago and she related that letters from former students, some from many years ago, are always welcomed to make her days brighter.

Asked if she knows how many pupils she has taught in Osborne, Lila said she regrets now that she never kept track. In addition to the professional teaching organizations she has been affiliated, she began a new experience last year as a member of the city library board. She is proud of her work as county chairman of the 1973 cancer crusade that has exceeded its goal.

Other activity includes being treasurer of the American Field Service committee for foreign ex­change students, with the American Red Cross and P.E.O. Sisterhood. Now an adult church teacher, she serves on the Methodist board.

Lila has been such an unselfish volunteer as to keep her from some of the personal enjoyment she has an eye on in the future, such as doing ceramics with the Golden Years Club. She figures there is still plenty of time left to reach unfinished goals.

 

*  *  *  *  *

Lila Marie Leaver either went to school or taught a total of 57 years.  Fifty-two years were in the Osborne public schools, 13 years as a pupil and 39 years as a teacher.­

Lila said her biggest thrill in teaching was to have former students return to say “I became a teacher because of you and hope to teach like you did.”  She still received mail from many former pupils.  Lila believes her students thought her a strict disciplinarian but was told from her pupils that they appreciated it and learned from it.

Lila was quoted as saying, “School has been my life. I guess I never thought of anything but being a teacher. Just took it for granted. I think teaching is the greatest profession there is. When God sent his Son to earth he sent him as a teacher. I am thankful it was my privilege to be a teacher for 40 years.”

Lila was a member of the United Methodist Church. Her faith and her church were an important part of her life She had taught in Sunday school most of the time since she was in the sixth grade. She held every office ex­cept superintendent of cradle roll and home department. Lila held many offices in the church organization. She taught Vacation Bible School many different years as well as being the superintendent of Bible school. Lila taught the New Day Adult Bible study class for 16 years. She was also the official photographer for the church from 1978 to 1981.

Lila was a lifetime member of the Kansas State Teachers Association (KNEA) and a retired member of the National Education Association and National Retired Teacher Association. On June 9, 1978, Lila was elected to the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame at Dodge City, Kansas. This was the highlight of her teaching career and her life.

 

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(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, April 27, 1978, Page One:)

OSBORNE: Lila Leaver likes kids; a short talk with her revealed that, while not a startling, unprecedented, or even uncommon trait for a teacher, it may just be the one which got her elected to the 1978 Kansas Teacher’s Hall of Fame in Dodge City.

Leaver, a life-time resident of Osborne, retired in l974 after 40 years of teaching, is still able to philosophize.

“I think my idea of youngsters . . . that the vast majority of them are good and want to do what’s right. I don’t understand them always, but have faith in young people. Maybe they’ll do a better job of straightening out the world than we did . . . I’ve had some mighty fine ones through the years.”

On June 9th she will be inducted into the Hall. She contributes the honor to many people, whom she named and thanked, plus many career events.

“Leaver said her biggest thrill in teaching was to have former students return to say “I became a teacher because of you – and hope to teach like you did.” She said she still receives mail from “quite a few” former pupils and enjoyed teaching them. The fact that “Osborne backs their schools 100 percent’’ added to her pleasure, she said.

Studying for her master’s degree in summers and finishing it at Fort Hays State University, Leaver used it to land a job as a social studies teacher in Osborne High School, where she taught for 30 more years. While there she served as assistant principal two years and principal two years. For years she sponsored Girl Scouts, Kayettes, and the junior class without pay, in the days when that was part of the job.

“I really got to know the youngster through extra-curricular activities,” said Leaver, “some of them turn out to have some ability you don’t realize in the classroom.”

“Current History”, an elective in 1950, proved to be her favorite class. “We had a lot of fun, but they did an awful lot of work too . . . really, I enjoyed all my classes,” Leaver said.

Leaver believes her students thought her a strict disciplinarian. “But I think children and young people appreciate it,” she added, “at least that’s what many of them told me later.”

With her career a thing of the past, Leaver now lives alone, traveling and taking pictures as hobbies. Probably her activity, though retired, led to the remark on one of her Hall of Fame recommendations which read, “she brought a unique philosophy of life to her tasks at all times – humility was the hallmark of her life – the second mile was its measure.”

Lila Leaver became an honorary member of the Phi Beta Kappa in 1931 while at the University of Chicago. Lila was initiated in 1936 into the Chapter CR of PEO Sisterhood. She held many offices in PEO and remained an active member.

In the summer of 1955, Lila taught remedial reading at the Girls Industrial School in Beloit.   Lila was a member of the Kansas Heading Circle Commission of the State Department of Education to select library books for Kansas Junior High Schools from 1965 to 1967.  She received hundreds of books from publishers to build her own library and she gave the books to the Osborne Public Library and Osborne School Library. She also gave books to many friends and relatives.  She also was a member of the Osborne Public Library Board of Directors.

In 1972, Lila was honored at a retirement open house. She was especially honored to have her sister and nephew play a melody of her favorite songs on the piano and organ. In 1983, Lila was elected the first Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year based on her contributions to the community

Lila was chairman of the Osborne County Cancer Crusade and served as treasurer of the American Field Service.

Travel and photography were Lila’s main hobbies.  She had the privilege to travel over much of the United States and tour around the world and to meet many famous leaders in­cluding Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, Mr. Zakir Hussain and Mr. V. V. Giri.  She took many pictures in all parts of the world and gave many travel illustrated talks with slides to many groups in Osborne and surrounding towns. Of all the places Lila visited, the Holy Land was the most memorable to her.

*  *  *  *  *

Lila Marie Leaver died at her home in Osborne on February 23, 1985, at the age of 76.  She was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

 

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(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, May 10, 1990, Page 10-A)

 My Other Mother

By John Henshall

The assignment written on the blackboard was frightening. At first glance, it looked impossible.

It read, “Pick a subject, write a two thousand-word theme on it and be prepared to deliver at least a 15-minute speech on your chosen subject.”

It was May of 1945 in Lila Leaver’s American History class at Osborne High School. There were only a few more weeks of school left and it looked like Miss Leaver was saving the “worst” to the very end.

I was a senior in her class that year, very glad World War II was coming to an end and elated I would not have to put up with school assignments much longer. Grade school, Junior High, now high school had all gone by so quickly. Much of the time, I had managed to slip and slide through most of my school work. This laxity was quickly pointed out to me when I first met Miss Leaver when she taught in fifth grade.After getting into a fight with Dick Glenn during recess one day, Miss Leaver pulled me aside and said, “Johnny, why is it you are always getting into trouble? Why is it is always YOU that causes me so much grief. And your school work could be much better if you’d only try.

I didn’t answer her, but had plenty of thoughts to myself: “Who does she think she is? Why is she always picking on me? Doesn’t she know who I am? Doesn’t she know I’m the tallest kid on the basketball team? I’ll be glad to get out of this grade.”

I was only 11 years old when I was Miss Leaver’s “main pain.” Then, in 1945, I was again one of her pupils as she was now teaching in high school. Aside from being older, a little taller and a little skinnier, I was doing my best to refrain from overworking the gray matter of my ever-shrinking brain.

I raised my hand to inquire, “Miss Leaver, does that mean two thousand words or two hundred? She replied, “I didn’t make any mistake. It means two thousand. Why don’t you surprise me this time? Do some hard work and turn in something good. Why don’t you just make this your ‘farewell address’ to Osborne High School?”

The 22 other students in the class roared with laughter. I even laughed. Why not? I had laughed at almost everything else during my school years.

After classes that day, while restocking shelves at Ora Taylor’s Meat Market, I got to thinking about what had happened. I started to realize, whether I liked it or not, I was about to become a graduate of the Osborne school system. Though I was now 18 and a senior, I didn’t feel that old. In a way, I didn’t want to graduate I was frightened by the fact that, for the first time in years, I would not he going to school m Osborne next year. World War II was drawing to a close. Germany had been defeated. Great man Franklin Roosevelt had just died. Bad man Adolph Hitler had committed suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin. And 18-year-old boys were still being drafted to help in ‘the final assault on Japan.’ It seemed appropriate to do a theme on the war.

I thought of the many changes in our lives and the advances in technology that had occurred since the start of the war in 1941. Radar, jet-powered airplanes, synthetic rubber, newer, improved medicines and all progressed during the conflict and contributed to our final victory. I would call my theme “Victory through Progress.”

I constructed a notebook made up of pictures clipped from Life and Look magazines. I scoured through old newspapers and looked up some facts in The Book of Knowledge. I tied it all together with a few corny jokes lifted from The Readers Digest and prepared a speech fit for a college professor.

In about two weeks, I was called on to give my report. Miss Leaver sat in the back of the class, her grading pencil in hand. I gave the class about a 20-minute talk (about 15 minutes without the jokes). Several days later, Miss Leaver posted the grades on her bulletin board. I had received an “A,” one of the few “A’s” I ever received in school. It meant a lot to me, but not as much as the note I later found taped inside the front page of my project. It read, “You have a very fine notebook. It is neat, complete and well organized. Doesn’t it give you a lot of satisfaction to do a task well? (signed) L. Leaver, 1945.”

The notebook and theme I prepared nearly half a century ago has long since vanished, but I still have her hand-written message posted in my high school scrapbook.

The long struggle Miss Leaver had been having with her “problem child” was finally over. She had found the key that unlocked the door for me to that wonderful world of learning.

The “key” was a simple four-letter word called WORK.

Lila Leaver was a teacher for four decades. She taught 38 of those years in the Osborne school system. She was once quoted as saying, “School has been my life. I never thought of anything but being a teacher. I just took it for granted. I think teaching is the greatest profession.”

Miss Leaver and I became good friends as the years passed. I would often stop by and visit with her at her home. I remember how anxious I was to introduce her to my wife in 1956.

A few years before her death in 1985, I told her again that I appreciated her interest in my school work and that I was grateful she never gave up on me. She was always so happy to know one of her “bad boys” had turned out okay.

Mother’s Day is Sunday. Everyone thinks their mother was the greatest in the world and this is as it should be. I will think of my mother often on Sunday. And I’ll wish I could talk to her one more time, one more precious moment, to tell her how much I loved her.

I will also be thinking of “my other mother.” The patience, attention and guidance given to me by Miss Leaver during those formative years of my life have etched a deep and lasting memory.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

OTHER SOURCES:  Carol Conway, Beloit, Kansas; Phillip Schweitzer, Osborne, Kansas.

John A. Dillon – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 19, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the third of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014:

 

Dr. John A. DillonThe son of 1996 Osborne County Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Alfred C. Dillon and Mary (Shafer) Dillon, John A. Dillon was born December 24, 1872, on the family homestead in Corinth Township of Osborne County, Kansas.   He graduated Osborne, Kansas High School in 1889. After teaching rural school for a year he entered Kansas Medical College, from which he graduated in 1893.

That fall John decided to join the thousands of boomers who wanted to try for homesteads when the Cherokee Strip of northwest Oklahoma was opened to settlement.  The great land rush began at noon on September 16, 1893, with more than 100,000 participants dashing across the southern Kansas state line, hoping to claim land.

“Dr. John Dillon and Frank Leebrick leave today for the [Cherokee] Strip. They are unsettled in their minds as to whether they will stay there.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893.

“Word comes back to Osborne that John Dillon succeeded in establishing his person on a fine quarter section of land in the Strip, Saturday last, and that Frank Leebrick made a good thing by taking a load of provisions into the new country. The rumor circulated on our streets the first of the week to the effect that John Dillon had both legs broken in the mad rush for new homes, was set afloat by some sensational crank. It was a canard.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 21, 1893.

“John Dillon and Frank Leebrick are on their way home from the Strip, and are expected to reach Osborne today.”  –  Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 28, 1893.

After his adventure John then served a year as house physician in Christ Hospital at Topeka before becoming a practicing physician together with his father in Osborne.  After three years of this training he entered the Kansas City Dental College and 1900 became an accredited dentist.

In 1901 John moved to Washburn, North Dakota where he served as county health officer while he ran a medical practice.  On May 29, 1901 John returned to Osborne, where he married Margaret Ogden. Together they raised three sons, Ogden, John Jr., and David.

In 1905 John took the opportunity to travel to Europe, where he spent more than a year in post-graduate work in both the London Hospital at London, England, and in Berlin, Germany.  Two years later John returned to the United States and located at Larned, Pawnee County, Kansas, where he opened a medical practice.

In Larned John became a valued member of the community.  He served on the Pawnee County Board of Health, the Larned Library Board of Directors, the Larned City Council, and on committees for the Larned Commercial Club.  John was a stockholder in the First State Bank of Larned and served as a trustee for the Larned Presbyterian Church.  He was affiliated with the Lodge, Chapter, Knight Templar Commandery, and the Wichita Temple of the Mystic Shrine.  John was also a member of the Subordinate Lodge of Odd Fellows, the Great Bend Lodge of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias.

In 1912 John was elected to the first of two two-year terms as Pawnee County Coroner.  Then in 1927 he was appointed chief administrator for the Larned State Mental Hospital, a position that he held until 1944.  The Dillon Building at the hospital bears his name.

The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.

The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.

In 1934 John was given the prestigious honor of being elected a Fellow in the College of American Surgeons.

For years John had been submitting medical stories and anecdotes to the Kansas Medical Journal.  These were gathered together and published as two books, Foibles For the Kansas Doctor (1920) and Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles (1926).

The following is from the Journal of the American Medical Association, July 30, 1927, Volume 89, No. 5, Page 396:  “Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles.  By John A. Dillon, M.D. Cloth, Price, $2.  Pp. 168.  Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1926.

“Under the non de plume “RenigAde”, Dr. John A. Dillon for several years has published sketches in the Kansas Medical Journal.  These have been outstanding in their philosophy and in their humor.  Some of them have been republished in part in the Tonic and Sedatives column.  Any physician who wishes to while away a few hours in thorough enjoyment of a revelation of medical foibles will find his money for the purchase of this book exceedingly well spent.  Examples of the humor and epigram of this volume are the following:

“The American College of Surgeons has practically done away with fee-splitting, as it is called.  The result has been that most physicians have felt themselves  called upon to do their own operating and new surgeons are almost as common as filling stations.

“The swell girls you have met through the medium of your friend, the fizz mixer, are also fairly well known around the soft drink palaces and can usually be found running in droves about dish washing time.  They are mostly good girls who quit school in the seventh grade on account of headache.

“The practice of medicine is a jealous mistress and will not tolerate intrigues with golf, baseball nor anything else that tends to divorce affection from the legally adopted spouse.

“No patient with a symptom complex sufficiently grave to call the doctor will accept the services of one whose breath smells like something the cat found under the granary.

“To ask a badly bow-legged man to point the knees toward each other and pivot on his metatarsal would, of course be useless instructions for the reason that we have never known a bow-legged man who knew what pivot was.

“The average golf player can make about the same score with a boat oar and a potato masher as he can with a gunny-sack full of niblicks and stances.”

 

 

After his retirement John lived quietly in Larned until his death on December 3, 1951.  A funeral attended by a large gathering followed as John A. Dillon was laid to rest in the Larned Cemetery.

 

John A. Dillon's tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.

John A. Dillon’s simple tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.

 

Upon his death the Larned paper had the following to say of John’s passing:

“In the passing of Dr. John A. Dillon Larned has lost one of its foremost citizens, a man who attained full measure of success in his profession, in public service as head of a great institution, and as a citizen or his community, county and state.

“Of Larned’s newer citizens and its younger generation, many were denied the privilege of knowing Dr. Dillon. Since his retirement from the state hospital post nearly six years ago, failing health prevented him from taking his accustomed place in community life.

“But although the youth of the community did not know Dr. Dillon, he never lost touch with the activities and achievements of youth on the athletic field, and in the school room. An ardent devotee of competitive athletics, he followed the progress of the high school teams long after he was unable to attend the games. He always spoke of the high school teams as ‘our boys.’

“The doctor’s associates remember him best for his sense of humor and. his talent for human relationships. He had other talents, which he shared liberally. He loved to sing, his favorite songs were those made famous by the late Harry Lauder. He wrote a book about his experiences as a country doctor that was published long before

Dr. [Arthur] Hertzler developed the same theme. He was a frequent contributor to medical journals, wrote a humorous column for his home town newspaper, and was an active member of church and club.

“A successful man himself, he derived vicarious pleasure and satisfaction in the successes and achievements of others after he was forced to give up active participation.”

SOURCES: Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893, September 21, 1893, September 28, 1893, & June 14, 1934; “Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. …”, Standard Publishing Company, Chicago (1912, pages 359-360); Kansas Department For Aging & Disability Services; Fort Larned Historical Society; Santa Fe Trail Center; Larned State Hospital.

William Henry Coop – 2014 Inductee

(On this date, August 18, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the second of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014)

The grave of William and Nora Coop, Fern Prairie Cemetery, Camas, Washington.

The graves of William and Nora Coop, Fern Prairie Cemetery, Camas, Washington. Photo courtesy of findagrave.com.

William Henry Coop was born in Portis, Osborne County, Kansas on May 22, 1935.  The son of Henry and Dorothy (Hoel) Coop, William moved around quite a lot in his life, living in Oregon, Washington, California, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas in addition to Kansas.

He spent the majority of his career in several prestigious aerospace industry leadership roles before co-founding the Entronics Corp of Dallas, Texas in 1984 with his wife, Nora (Adams) Coop.  The couple were also certified commercial pilots who raised two children, William and Kathryn.

William’s aerospace achievements peaked in the 1970s when he led the team of engineers responsible for the design and deployment of the soil sampling equipment for NASA’s two Viking Explorer spacecraft that successfully landed on Mars in 1975.  William’s name is engraved on plaques attached to both Viking Landers, which still remain today on the surface of the Red Planet.

In later years the Coops moved to Camas, Clark County, Washington, where William passed away on June 23, 2012.  He was laid to rest in the Fern Prairie Cemetery at Camas, Washington.

SOURCES: Portis Independent newspaper, May 23, 1935 & May 30, 1935; Marge Albright, Downs, Kansas; Straub’s Funeral Home, Camas, Washington (www.straubsfuneralhome.com); http://www.findagrave.com.

Lemuel Kurtz Green – 2014 Inductee

(On this date, August 17, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the first of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014)

Adaline and Lemuel Green.

Husband and wife: Adaline and Lemuel Green.

Lemuel Kurtz Green was born November 1, 1860, at Stovers Town, Blair County, Pennsylvania.  The son of Phineas and Nancy (Kurtz) Green, he moved with his parents in 1877 to a farm near Bull City (now Alton), Kansas.

 

“A fervent Methodist with a solid work ethic, Lemuel attended the local school, and his first job aside from that of the home farm was that of workman in a saw mill and corn mill. In compensation he received his board and eleven dollars a month, but his pay was largely in cornmeal, sorghum molasses and cottonwood lumber. About the time that Lemuel engaged in this work his father needed a shovel to dig a well for the home farm, and as cash for the purchase was lacking, Lemuel approached Hiram Bull, who had been a distinguished union officer in the Civil War and who was then engaged in business in Bull City, the town he co-founded. Bull listened to the talk of Lemuel and readily agreed to extend him the requested credit in the purchase of the shovel.” – From a letter by Adaline Green to Orville Guttery, May 22, 1934.

 

Lemuel was then employed four years for William Bush at the Alton Roller Mill, located a mile south of Bull City on the South Fork Solomon River.

In 1882 Lemuel moved to Graham County, Kansas, where he claimed a homestead and a timber claim and lived in a sod house. The next year he married Adaline Dirstine in Osborne County.  They would raise two children, Ralph and Lawrence, to adulthood.

Lemuel proved up on his two claims and then traded them for a flour mill in Lenora, Kansas. Three years later he turned his interest in this mill over to his father and his brother, Irvin, and in 1890 returned to Bull City, now called Alton, and purchased the Alton mill from his former employer, William Bush. Lemuel operated this flour mill for the next 12 years, serving on the Alton city council as well as mayor.

 

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 2, 1890.

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 2, 1890.

 

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 15, 1891.

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 15, 1891.

 

“We are told that L. K. Green sold the old mill property, including the feed grinder, to Hollis Snyder and one of the Emrick’s, of Mt. Ayr. Alton Empire, January 23, 1902, Page 5.

 

“When L. K. Green, of Alton, after looking the state over with a view to erecting a large flouring mill, decided that Osborne, Kansas was the most desirable place, his wisdom was applauded by the businessmen of this city.  The reasons for his choice were obvious. In the center of a fine wheat producing section, with no flouring mill of any size close at hand, and with a railway company lending its cooperation, there is no great wonder at Mr. Green’s selection. After surmounting some difficulties in the way of securing a proper mill site, in which the citizens of Osborne gave generous financial aid, the Solomon Valley Milling Company was organized February 15, 1902, with the following officers: President, L. K. Green; secretary and treasurer, C. W. Landis; directors, F. W. Gaunt and S. J. Hibbs, of Alton, Allen Clark, L. K. Green and C. W. Landis . . .

“Upon the completion of the organization of the company, steps were immediately taken toward the erection of one of the finest flouring mills in this section. A short description of this mill, which is fast nearing a finished state, will prove of interest to the readers of this issue of the Farmer. The total ground dimensions of this building are 64 x 72 feet. The main part of the building is 32×56 feet, with three stories and a basement. The warehouse will have a capacity often minded, and withal a good business man, carloads of manufactured products, and he seems to have been fitted by nature the mill will have a wheat storage capacity of 30,000 bushels. The engine and boiler room will be in a detached stone building, thus lessening the danger from fire. The motive power will be furnished by a steel boiler, 5 x 16 feet in size, of a high pressure type and carrying 160 pounds working pressure. The engine is a Corliss compound condensing, with 130 horse power.  The mill will have a capacity of 200 barrels per day, and will be equipped with five wheat cleaners, nine stands of rolls, eight purifiers, three sieve bolting machines, and all the other necessary appliances . . .

“The company is putting in a full rye grinding outfit, and will make the manufacturing of rye flour a specialty. It expects also to do a large custom business, although of course its main dependence will be export trade. The product of this mill will be high patent flour of the very finest quality, strictly straight grade and a fancy baker’s grade. Work is being rapidly pushed on the building, and it is expected that it will be completed and in operation sometime between July 1 and 15. With an eye to business, the Missouri Pacific railway has already put in a switch 600 feet long for the exclusive use of this mill . . . Osborne County Farmer, May 15, 1902, Page 12.

 

Lemuel started experimenting with electricity by wiring his home and lighting it with electric current from the mill. He then installed electric lights, an early electric washing machine and even an unsuccessful electric-powered dishwasher.  Lemuel followed this by stringing wires for lighting homes within a mile of his mill at Osborne.  Convinced of the potential for electric power, he sold his flour milling operations in Osborne in 1908 and purchased the Concordia Electric Light Company for the princely sum of $21,500.  This company owned the H. M. Spalding hydroelectric plant on the Republican River. Lemuel soon installed transmission lines to serve several nearby towns. To help finance the system, he convinced local voters to approve bonds to build the transmission lines. His construction crew often included his two sons, Ralph and Lawrence.

Prior to Green’s purchase the company generated power only dawn to midnight and was closed on Sundays. Green bought power from another flour mill and began selling power to neighboring towns. Within a matter of years, L.K. Green & Sons Electric Light and Power was serving 22 communities in northern Kansas.

In 1916 Lemuel sold the Concordia plant for $550,000. With this cash he then bought the Reeder Light, Ice & Fuel Company in Pleasant Hill, Missouri and with his sons formed the Green Power & Light Company. Lemuel then built Baldwin Lake, which was used for hydroelectric power as well as provide water for the community.

In 1922, looking to expand with a generating plant at Clinton, Missouri, Lemuel took the company public under the name West Missouri Power Company. The company would expand through southwest Missouri.

After four years he sold this company to the Fitkin Group again, which merged with the Missouri Public Service Company.  Later this company became UtiliCorp, which later became Aquila, and now is part of Great Plains Energy, currently one of the largest utility companies in the world.

In his later years Lemuel retired to Escondido, California where he bought a 2,000-acre orange grove.

The Lemuel Green home in Escondido, California.

The Lemuel Green home in Escondido, California.

Another view of the Lemuel Green home.

Another view of the Lemuel Green home.

Lemuel Green passed away on July 5, 1930, in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, and was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.  He now joins his son Ralph Jerome Green in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

The 1930 death certificate for Lemuel Green.

The 1930 death certificate for Lemuel Green.

 

SOURCES:  Alton Empire, January 23, 1902; Osborne County Farmer, May 15, 1902; Western Empire newspaper, June 13, 1895; Illuminating the Frontier, https://www.blackhillscorp.com/sites/default/files/bhc-ilwe-ch1.pdf; Aquila, http://www.wikipedia.org; Tales of a Town Named Bull City, Orville Guttery & edited by Von Rothenberger, Ad Astra Publishing, 2011); Bliss Van Gundy, “Osborne County Pioneers”, Osborne County Farmer, April 15, 1971.

Herman Darrell “Joe” Hale – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 16, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fifth and last member of the OCHF Class of 2013)

Hale Joe 1943 high school seniorHerman Darrell “Joe” Hale was born April 12, 1925, in Woodston, Rooks County, Kansas, the third of four children born to Carl Raymond Hale and Mayme E. (Dunn) Hale.  Joe was baptized in the United Methodist Church, at Downs, Kansas, where he served as captain of the football and basketball teams and playing baritone in the school band.  The football team distinguished itself his senior year with a perfect record – unbeaten, untied, and unscored-upon.

After high school graduation in 1943 Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, Service and Supply Ship, in the Pacific theater until his discharge in 1946.  Joe then attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in business.  Joe began work with the John Deere Company and later moved to Salina, Kansas, where he later worked for the Douglass Candy Company.  In 1951, he met and married Joyce Vanier.  Together they raised six children.

That same year, Joe joined Joyce’s father’s Western Star Mill Company in Salina, where he became vice president.  The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) in Decatur, Illinois, purchased Western Star in 1970.  Two years later, Joe was named president of ADM Milling Company.  He became company chairman in 1989 and retired in 1996.  Joe was credited with building the company into a world-wide leader in the flour and grain milling industry.

Related to his field, Joe served as president of both Millers’ National Federation and the American Corn Millers Federation, now both part of the North American Millers Association (NAMA).  He was an honorary lifetime member of NAMA.

Joe also was chairman of the board of Sunflower Bank; president of Star A, a ranching and farming operation; and vice president of the American Royal Association.  He served as a director of the following companies – Archer Daniels Midland, Commerce Bancshares, and Lyons Manufacturing Company. Other directorships Joe held included the Wheat Industry Council, the National Pasta Association, the American Baking Association, the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers Association, the American Institute of Baking, and St. John’s Military School.

Joe was a founding member of the Rolling Hills Congregational Church in Salina.  He was a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Mission Hills Country Club, Garden of the Gods Club, Vanguard Club, Man of the Month Club, and the Kansas City Club.  He was a former member of the Wolfcreek Golf Club, Oxbow Hunting Club, Equity Investment Club, Country Cousins, Privy Council, and the Black Sheep baking industry organization.

Joe supported many institutions throughout his life, and his support was honored through several lasting legacies both large and small:  the fences around the Downs City Park and the Downs Cemetery in Downs, Kansas; the Hale Arena at the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri; the Hale Achievement Center and Hale Music Media Center at the University of Kansas; and the Hale Library at Kansas State University.

“Joe graduated from the University of Kansas, but several of his children went to K-State. He wanted to do something for K-State. His support had to be directly for students, so he contributed to a directly oriented student project that became Hale Library as we know it today. He and his wife, Joyce, came forward in 1992 as anonymous donors for the major portion of the $5 million in private funding needed to build the library. They are the reason that we finally have a facility that can accommodate the students at K-State.” – Brice Hobrock, Dean of KSU Libraries, 1999.

Gary Hellebust, president and CEO of the KSU Foundation, also said in 1999 that Hale was a true supporter of academics and was an inquisitive, intelligent person.  “He was a bigger-than-life character.  He was warm, but somewhat reserved – very inquisitive. He wanted to learn just so he would know and increase his awareness.”  He was very pro-academic and wanted to support the library because he felt it would be supporting all academics at K-State and not just one part.”

H. D. “Joe” Hale passed away November 20, 1999 at St. Joseph Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 77 years old.  His impact and generosity will influence many future generations to come.

The 1942-1943 Downs Dragons Football team. Herman "Joe" Hale, one of the captains of the team, is third from left in the front row.  The team went 9-0, scoring 188 points to their opponents' zero points.

The 1942-1943 Downs Dragons Football team. Herman “Joe” Hale, one of the two captains on the team, is third from left in the front row. The team went 9-0, scoring 188 points to their opponents’ zero points.

hale Joe signature

Hale Library at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

Hale Library at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

Arlene Louise Sollenberger – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 15, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fourth of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)

Sollenberger Arlene portraitArlene Louise Sollenberger was born in Natoma, Osborne County, Kansas, on November 19, 1920, the only child of Versa (Dorr) Sollenberger and Jesse C. Sollenberger.  Both of her parents were well-known musicians in their own right.  After growing up in Osborne and graduating from Osborne High School, Arlene earned a bachelor of music education degree from Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas, with majors in piano and clarinet.

Arlene then taught school at Garfield in Pawnee County, Kansas, and at Stafford, Stafford County, Kansas.  Returning to college, she earned a Master of Music Education degree and Master of Artistic Voice degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music at Ann Arbor, Michigan.  For the next nine years Arlene taught at the Michigan School of Music and was a soloist with symphonies, oratorios and recitals.  She also sang with quartets including one that appeared regularly on the radio and two others at churches.

In 1956 Arlene applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship for a year’s study at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany.  She was then appointed Associate Professor of Music, Voice, at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1959, becoming a full professor in 1968.

“A further entry in Texas Christian University’s fine arts festival for this year devoted to the arts in Italy was presented Monday night in Ed Landreth Auditorium.  The event was an Italian song recital by Arlene Sollenberger, soprano, with Adrienne Mora Reisner at the piano.  The operatic aria, “O Don Fatale” from Verdi’s “Don Carlo”, was quite the high spot of the evening, in which the singer’s stunning personality made a basis for some magnificent singing.  The wide range and brilliant top notes earned an ovation.”Fort Worth Telegram, August 13, 1965.

After 27 years at the university Arlene elected to retire in 1986, retaining the title of emeritus associate professor of music.

Arlene was a member of the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association and regional governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  The National Federation of Music Clubs gave her life membership following a concert at their Texas state convention.  Arlene’s many other memberships included the Overton Park United Methodist Church; Sigma Alpha Iota sorority (received the Sword of Honor); Phi Kappa Phi sorority; Pi Kappa Lambda sorority (served on National Board of Regents; Tau Beta Sigma sorority (honorary member), National Association of Teachers of Singing; National Federation of Music Clubs (life member); Altrusa Internations, Inc. of Fort Worth; Women’s Club of Fort Worth; the E. Clyde Whitlock Music Club; and the Euterpean Club of Fort Worth (director of Euterpean Singers).

Among the honors Arlene received was being named to Who’s Who, South and Southwest, 1980, Personalities of the South (11th edition, 1980).  She was also the recipient of both the 1981 Contribution to the Arts Through Music from the Personalities of America and Bethany College Alumni Association’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1988.

In 1984 Arlene gave the funds to install the organ and carillon in the United Methodist Church in Osborne, Kansas, as a memorial to her parents, Jesse and Versa Sollenberger.   She passed away at the age of 81 on Wednesday, December 12, 2001, in Fort Worth, Texas.  Services were held at the Overton Park United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.  Arlene was then laid to rest next to her family in the Osborne Cemetery at Osborne, Kansas.

As a final gesture to her hometown, Arlene’s last will and testament created a trust which directed that three-fourths of the annual net income of the trust was to be distributed to Unified School District No. 392 for student scholarships, while one eighth was to go to the United Methodist Church at Osborne, Kansas, and the final one eighth would go to the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society of Osborne, Kansas.