Carl Edward Creamer – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 11, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the third member of the OCHF Class of 2016)

Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer was a decorated World War II prisoner-of-war and is already a member of two Halls of Fame. Now this Osborne County native son is accorded the utmost respect by his birthplace with an induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Ed was born in Portis, Osborne County, Kansas on January 26, 1921, to Forrest Herman Creamer and Lola (Warner) Creamer. His father Forrest was a World War I veteran, a member of Company G, 139th U.S. Infantry, 35th Division.

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Forrest and Lola Creamer, 1919.

Forrest was captured during the Battle of the Argonne Forest on September 29, 1918, and remained a prisoner-of-war in Germany until his release in April 1919. He died of pneumonia on March 12, 1921 when Ed was just a few weeks old. Ed and his older half-sister, Zada, were placed with relatives. When Ed was six years old, he went to live with his grandparents, William and Blanche Creamer, who lived on a farm three miles east of Portis.

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Ed Creamer in 1922.
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Ed and his class at the Portis (Kansas) Grade School, date unknown. 

Ed grew up in the Portis area and attended the Portis Grade School. He liked to fish and hunt and was a pretty good athlete. It ran in the family; he spent a lot of time with his uncles, Lawrence and Clifton, and Lawrence Creamer was a gifted athlete. He once had a basketball scholarship to the University of Kansas that was lost due to a knee injury, but went on to play with the “Portis Dynamos”, a legendary local barnstorming semi-pro team.

When Ed was thirteen years old his mother Lola married David Hatch and the family, together again, moved to Filer, Idaho. Ed graduated from Filer Rural High School in 1939.

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Ed in 1935 in Idaho.
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Ed’s high school diploma from Filer High School, Idaho, in 1939.

He joined the U.S. Navy on September 3, 1940, in Twin Falls, Idaho, and first went to the AFEES in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Boot Camp and Ordnance “A” School in San Diego, California, after which he had the rank of Apprentice Seaman, S 2/c, S1/c.

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Ed in the U.S. Navy, 1940.

On March 3, 1941, Ed was ordered to VP-41 (Patrol Squadron) at Seattle, Washington, and then sent as part of the PBY-4 Beaching “Boot” crew for a short deployment to Sitka, Alaska, with the rank of Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Petty Officer (AOM3). In June 1941 Ed was deployed with VP-41 at Kodiak, Alaska, and then on Kodiak Island December 7th, 1941. On May 24, 1942, VP-41 received their first Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat and moved their operations to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.

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Ed was assigned to this Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat at Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

On June 2nd Ed was assigned to a VP-41 flight crew. The next day, June 3rd, the VP-41 PBY-5A went on patrol, and was shot down by Japanese fighters. Ed was one of the three survivors of the nine-man crew. He was able to stay afloat in the Bering Sea for four hours before he was picked up by the Japanese cruiser Takao and taken as prisoner-of-war to Ofuna, Japan.

[Ed’s years as a prisoner-of-war, told in his own words, will appear at the end of this biography.]

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After three years as a Japanese prisoner-of-war Ed entered the naval hospital in Oakland, California in September 1945 and then the U.S. Naval Hospital at Seattle, Washington, for rehabilitation.

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Ed as photographed at the Seattle Naval Hospital, 1945.
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ED shown here on leave back in Filer, Idaho in 1945.

The following month Ed was received a Presidential Appointment to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (AOC). In March 1946 he transferred to the Naval Air Station at Sand Point, Seattle, Washington, as both the Base Medical Administrative Assistant and as Ordnance Chief in Charge of Pistol, Rifle, Machine Gun, Skeet Ranges and Magazines.

In October 1948 Ed was assigned to Fleet Composite Squadron Five and transferred to the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field, California, as Special Weapons Chief in charge of all ABC, including crew training, records and ABC handling equipment. He was also designated the ABC Defense Chief.  Three years later Ed received orders to join Heavy Attack Training Unit One at Norfolk, Virginia, as Chief of Ordnance in charge of records in Special Weapons and ABC Handling Equipment, including all inventory, maintenance and repair.

The following year, in 1952, Ed was assigned to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 51 at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Sanford, Florida. In March 1953 he received a temporary Presidential Appointment to the rank of Gunner, Warrant Officer Pay Grade One and transferred to the U.S.S. Cabot CVL 28 at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard as Aircraft Ordnance and Training Officer. This temporary duty and rank ended in mid-1954 and Ed then transferred to Fleet Composite Squadron 62 at Jacksonville, Florida, as Leading Chief and Training.

Over the final six years of his active naval career Ed served with Attack Squadron 106 at the Naval Air Station at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, as Ordnance Chief, and then with the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Barin Field in Foley, Alabama, as Ordnance Chief and CPO Club Manager. His final assignment was with Attack Squadron 196 at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, California with FFT Attack Squadron 152, at the Naval Air Station at Alameda, California.

Ed’s first marriage was to Mary Lou _____, with whom he had a daughter, Tona. In 1955 he met and married Jeanette Heuring, and adopted her three children, Richard, Barbara, and Roger. Both Richard and Roger went on to their own naval careers, each attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer, the same as their father.

On July 1, 1960, Chief Petty Officer Ed Creamer was transferred to Fleet Reserve and retired from the U.S. Navy after twenty years of service. He lived the rest of his life at Jacksonville, Florida. Ed was a life-member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association and the American Legion, and was a frequent guest speaker at Jacksonville, Florida area military bases’ POW-MIA remembrances. He attended the PatWing 4 and VP-41 final squadron reunion in 1999, where he met and shook the hand of the Japanese Zero pilot that shot him and the crew of his PBY-5A from the sky on June 3rd, 1942.

There have been three books written about his capture and interment in Japan:

  1. We Stole to Live – Joseph Rust Brown
  2. War Comes to Alaska, The Dutch Harbor Attack – Norman Rouke
  3. The Thousand-Mile War, WWII in the Aleutians – Brian Garfield

 

In 2011 Ed was one of the first six inductees into the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor for his actions prior to and after his capture. In 2012 he was inducted into the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.

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The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor, with Ed’s plaque on the left.
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Ed’s plaque in the Association of Avation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.
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David Hatch and Ed Creamer showing off the mess of fish they caught, 1960.

Throughout his life, Ed was an avid sportsman, golfer and bowler, and never met a stranger, just friends he hadn’t yet met. Carl Edward Creamer passed away August 23, 2012 in Jacksonville. He was laid to rest in the Jacksonville National Cemetery with full military honors for his dedication and commitment in serving The United States of America.

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Ed Creamer’s funeral service, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida, 2012.
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Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer’s tombstone, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.
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In 2013 Ed’s family donated several items of his to the National Prisoner of War Museum at the Andersonville National Historical Site in Andersonville, Georgia.

*  *  *  *  *

 

My Days as a POW in a Japanese Prison Camp

by Carl E. (Ed) Creamer

I reported for duty at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on May 28, 1942. Less than a month later – June 2nd – we were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. On the same day, I was aboard a Navy PBY aircraft on my way to another assignment, when we were attacked by the Japanese planes. The pilot made a crash landing in the Bering Sea. Soon I found myself in a life raft watching the plane sink into the water. After floating for about four hours I was picked up by a Japanese cruiser. In a few days I arrived in Japan and was taken to a prison camp named Ofuna.

The following three years were interesting but no less rough. They were made interesting by the American pilots routine bombing that kept us on our toes at all times. Their aim was so good we were bombed out of five different camps. I became what might be called a “traveling prisoner-of-war”.

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Photograph of Ed Creamer taken during his internment as a Japanese prisoner-of-war.

On September 16, 1942, it was my turn to leave Ofuna. The group I was in included five Americans, two Englishmen and two Canadians. The Japanese took us to the Yokohama baseball stadium. That same day 200 Englishmen arrived from Hong Kong. Americans from Kiska, Alaska were also there. (Kiska was one of the two islands at the end of the Aleutian chain that was later invaded by the Japanese. The other was Attu.) Americans who survived the Bataan Death March also came. Eventually about 250 men called the ball stadium home. Not long after, five civilians from Wake came after Japan had captured that Island. They were in very poor condition.

We worked in many different places while at the stadium. We worked as stevedores unloading salt from the barges while others worked in the Yokohama shipyard. I preferred working in the peanut oil factory. We all soon learned how good peanut oil was on rice. The peanut oil that followed me back to our prison home after work was enjoyed by the other prisoners. It was one of the more healthy foods available to us. Eating peanuts all day helped me stay healthy. Five civilian prisoners had beri-beri and a lot of the peanut oil was used to help them. Overall the stadium was not a bad place to be, if you could call a POW prison good.

In February 1943, the Japanese moved 38 men to Camp 5. I was among the 38 selected. In this group were 11Americans and we stayed together for the rest of our confinement. (Their names are listed at the end of this story.) The remaining 27 were English. Some of the Englishmen died during the next 2 1/2 years we were imprisoned. All of the Americans survived. It took us over an hour to walk to this new camp. When we arrived, we found that it was a Canadian camp. They had been captured at Singapore and brought to Japan to work in the shipyard. The walk to work took us an hour. We got along well but during the winter months the snow was knee deep keeping us wet all the time.

The Japanese office-in-charge was a baseball fan and always wanted to play ball, always yelling for the Americans to come out and play ball with him. During the baseball games, the guards didn’t bother us very much. When we had trouble with them, we would let the Japanese officer-in-charge know and he soon had them down on their knees.

There was much sickness during our stay here, most of it was pneumonia.  About 104 Canadians died that year. During all the sickness the Canadians were unable to work, but our 38 men worked through it except for one American who contacted pneumonia. He later recovered and was back to work in a couple of weeks. I was the only American to come down with yellow jaundice along with three Canadians. Two of them died. The other Canadian and I were lucky; we lived to tell about it.  Through all the sickness and bad weather we were subjected to at Camp 5, we still had our original 38 men.

In April, 1944 we moved again after surviving almost two years in three different prison camps. The original 38 of us left Camp 5 for Camp 11, known as the Shibawa Camp. It was built and maintained by the Shibiwa Engineering Works. We still had about an hour to walk to work. In September 1944, 99 Javanese Dutch from the island of Java arrived and on October 2nd we greeted 50 Australians, and two more Dutchmen. I do not remember where the Australians were when they were captured.

We started getting interpreters in the camp. They were sent back to Japan from America when the war began. Our first one had been a senior at UCLA and was one of their top wrestlers. He was cruel to us and we were glad when he left.  Our next was a Mr. Tuda. He was an older man and a very good opera singer. He had lived in the states for many years and was to be married to a girl who was a senior at Ohio State. He was a very well educated person. I talked to him about his stay in Florida before being sent back to Japan. We got along very well during the rest of my time. We eventually established a friendship although under adverse conditions.

During my stay at Camp 11 the sergeant who was second in command chose me to be his cook and housekeeper. His name was Uno. I got along very well with him and ate all the time I was cooking if I didn’t get caught. I also helped out the men who needed more food when I could. I didn’t have to walk every day to the plant and back so it helped me stay healthy. I thank Sgt. Uno not only for myself but also for many of the men who did not know some of the things he did for them.  He was not a saint, but things might have been worse had it not been for him.

Mr. Tuda once said to me, “Creamer, if you think you are watched, you should see how I am being followed.  They also watch my mother’s house where I stay, night and day”. We became friends and talked a lot when we were not in crowded quarters. Tuda came in the mornings and the first thing he would say was “Creamer, let’s go down to the restaurant for coffee and donuts. I sure do miss my morning coffee”. This man saved me a lot of grief and helped me keep many of the prisoners out of trouble.  During this time we met a young boy about 10 years old.  He worked at the Shibawa Engineering Works. He said, “Yank, when are we going back to the United States? These people here don’t even speak English”. He had been born in New York. I learned by meeting this boy [that] the Japanese even detained people who were not prisoners and had no business being there.

On November 21, 1944 we received 564 Red Cross packages for 181 men. By this time we had lost 10 men. The 38 men we started out with were still alive. Later, we received one Red Cross package for two men.

We had Christmas off and were issued a Red Cross package. You quickly realize how wonderful it is when you are in a place where things like that are not common day occurrences. I enjoyed that Christmas more than the other two.

It wasn’t long before we started seeing planes. The American planes did bomb runs some distance from us and we were not affected. One night just before we dozed off, we heard a lone plane flying. It sounded as if it would fly right over our camp. Then we heard a bomb begin to scream. We dove under our blankets to keep glass from cutting us if the bomb didn’t kill us. The bomb hit about 30 feet beyond our hut and blew out every window in that building.  We all jumped up to see who was dead, but no one was hurt. One person had a few scratches. He was in the benjo (toilet) when the bomb hit and it blew him out through the door. We knew it was an American plane by the sound of its engine. We were beginning to see more and more planes as the days went by. We would be outside our barracks in the daytime and see American planes on bombing raids. Many times both day and night the Japanese guards would fix their bayonets and charge at us as if they were going to kill us.  They might have, but we never waited long enough to find out. Often, we saw many of the allied planes shot down and a few men parachute out who were captured and became prisoners. We saw engines burn off planes and scream to the ground. We also saw a plane fly over us and take pictures. We could almost reach up and touch it.

One afternoon the sirens started their mournful sound to tell us of in-coming planes. About half a dozen fighter planes started strafing an anti aircraft gun site located a block from our camp. The slugs were whining all around us. We were in our small bomb shelter which would not keep any bombs from blowing us up but did keep us from being hit by 50-caliber slugs. They kept strafing for about 20 minutes then left. I do not know whether they got rid of the gun or not. The Japanese were very mad at us after this attack. Bullets hitting concrete gives you an eerie feeling, in fact it scares the hell out of you. We found a few 50 caliber slugs in our compound after the raid was over. We had not been bombed up to now, but our peaceful living was coming to an end. We were destined to be traveling fast and far for the next few months.

That night everyone and everything was peaceful. We had no thought of being the bulls-eye for the burning of many acres of Tokyo and Yokohama. Around 11p.m, the sirens sounded the alert. Alert means planes are in the area, or over Japan. The red alert had not sounded. We were supposed to get up, put on our clothes and be ready to fight fires or leave the area. Fighting fires with a mop and a bucket does not work, especially when planes are dropping tons of fire bombs. The bombs were exploding north of us and seemed quite some distance. We felt we would not be bothered, so we didn’t finish dressing and sat talking about it when we realized the Yanks were dropping bombs in a circle. It seemed we were about the center of that circle. They were dropping fire bombs. Crates of them broke up as they fell. When the bombs came out of the crates, they would scream on the way down. It scared the Japanese as bad as we POWs. You really want a fox hole to get in and cover up fast. About a mile from our camp was a tire factory.  A load of bombs was dropped there to start a fire and every time it died down a little, another load was dropped to start the fire again.

By this time we had put on our clothes and were on the parade grounds with buckets and mops waiting to put out fires if the buildings started to burn. I never got a chance to use the fire equipment because the bombs began to drop all around us. As minutes went by, the noose was tightening.  Our Japanese guards were starting to worry. They were bombing within a few blocks of the camp when the guards herded us out of the camp and down the road at a run. We did not even have time to get our clothes and left without blankets or anything. They headed us to a swamp about a half-mile away, the only place where bombs were not falling. When we were a block away, a plane load of bombs hit the camp right where we had been standing. It was raining by this time and we had no blankets or heavy clothes to keep us warm.

We huddled together and tried to keep warm. It was about midnight. The planes did not leave until 5:30 A.M. We settled down and slept a couple of hours, and when the sun came up, the Japanese had us on the march. We headed out around 8 a.m. We marched through the burned out area where every house and busine.ss was burned to the ground. We walked about one-and-a-half hours and came to Camp 5, the Canadian camp, again. All day we were very careful what we did and how we acted. The Japanese were mad about the bombing raid; maybe hurt would be the right word. The Yanks had leveled Tokyo. Later on in the day, they finally got around to giving us something to eat.

We stayed at this camp a couple of weeks getting clothes and blankets replaced. Some of the men had been taken by truck to the old camp to pick up what could be used again. Not much was worth bringing back. All of our clothes and blankets were gone and all of the Red Cross packages had been burned.

In a couple of weeks, we were on the march again. Our new camp was deep in the heart of Shibawa Engineering Works about three quarters of a mile from the front gate. Shibawa had put a fence around a building I will call the barracks. There was building right on the canal for a bathhouse and toilet. The cook house was one building by itself. Then about 20 or 30 feet from there was our barracks. On the south side of our building was the canal which ran from Tokyo Bay to Yokohama shipyard. On the west side was part of the shipyard docking. On the east was Tokyo Bay. North, between all the buildings, was the exit out of the factory. So to leave the camp in case of an air raid, our only way out was three quarters of a mile north to the gate, one-and-a-half  miles west between gas tanks on the north and truck factory, shipyard and other factories on the south. That brought us to open area. To the north of us were 15 to 20 storage tanks. We were really surrounded.

The Japanese got us settled down and we started back to work doing what we had been doing before. This was around June, 1945. The barracks were divided so the guards had the east half and we had the west. The American and English lived by the partition at the center of the building. Next the Javanese, then at the west end, the Australians. By this time we had lost many men through sickness and transfers. Most of our losses were the Javanese. We were down to 130 people from our original 191.

Life went on, working, sleeping and watching planes across the canal bombing the hell out of the peanut oil factory. We had not been bothered yet. We held many safety drills, all of them at night. The Japanese would rout us out of bed, muster us on the parade grounds then march us about two miles until we were completely out of the industrial area to an open space. Then we would muster to see that everyone made it there. We would be there for an hour or so then march back to the camp. We would get back to bed about 3 a.m. This happened three or four times.

On July 3rd, we had eaten, showered, and were waiting for lights out and talking about home and other things when an Englishman made a statement that later turned out to be true.  He said, “We are going to get the hell bombed out of us tomorrow.” Conversations stopped and someone asked him why did he think that and he said, “Tomorrow is the 4th of July, Independence Day for you Yanks, and they will level this place.”

Lights went out about 9 p.m., and I believe most of us were asleep. Around 11 p.m. the siren sounded the alert. When this happens, we were to put on our clothes and muster on the parade ground and be ready to leave the area. That was why we had all those safety drills. We had just started to put on our clothes when the siren changed to red alert, meaning the planes were coming in to bomb. We jumped under our blankets so the shattered glass would not cut us. We heard the first plane diving on us then heard them pull up, then the bomb screaming. We knew we were done. As it happened, the first bomb hit in the canal, the next in the compound, and the next two hit the buildings in the factory. No one was hurt by the first plane. We started putting our clothes on again. Most of the men were dressed by the time the second plane started its dive. We dove back under the blankets. We heard those bombs screaming and some yelled “This is it, goodbye.” That bomb hit the building right where the Australians were quartered. About a fourth of the west end of the building was blown apart.

Under this building was a reservoir about half full of water. I believe more people would have been killed except the space between the water and floor took part of the shock. As it was, at least 20 Australians were killed. Some of the Javanese Dutch were also killed. This had taken place in about 10 minutes with two planes bombing us. When the bomb hit the building all the prisoners who were able to walk or crawl headed for the only door left.  As I hit that door with about 20 others, another plane was in a dive. Everyone yelled to “hit the deck.” All the people who were outside hit the deck as a bomb exploded in the compound.  A piece of that bomb went over our heads and cut one man’s legs off between the knee and the thigh. That same piece of bomb fragment tore a hole in a small building about the size of a wash tub.

When the plane had gone we jumped up and waited to see what was next, and then we took the wounded man inside. He did not live very long. We had an American doctor in our camp. He had been the doctor for General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. He was a captain in the Army. He and some of the boys tried to do what they could for the wounded while the planes kept bombing. We were doing this in the dark, searching for people scattered all over the compound, in the water, under the roof and many other places. Some of the crew was marched out of the area and stayed until the planes had gone. The bombing continued until 5 am.

That raid lasted about six hours. Not all of these planes came over our camp. They were bombing about one-and-a-half miles in width from east to west and about two miles north. Planes were bombing from the south using the canal as a land mark.  We were fortunate not to have lost the entire POW camp.

The Yanks were not bombing us, but the buildings about 100 yards beyond us. We just happened to be in the way. As the planes were coming in, we were trying to save as many men as we could. Each time a plane dived on us, we would hit the deck until the metal and dirt quit flying, and then go back to work. We had found 32 men and took them back to the barracks. By noon, 12 of these men were dead. So with the 20 Australians we lost when the bomb hit, our total loss was 32 people. Australians and Javanese were the casualties.

When it was light outside, we counted the bomb holes inside our fenced in area and found 20 holes large enough to bury a one-and-a-half ton truck. That does not count the ones that hit the canal. About 25 to 30 runs had come in directly over our barracks that night. The Yanks lowered the boom on the shipyard, Shibawa, the truck company and a couple of other companies. North of us, many of the tanks had been destroyed. Also, around those tanks was a POW camp; 29 Americans were killed there during the raid. We did not learn there was a camp there until after the raid. Our 11 Americans, and a doctor we picked up along the way, were still alive.

We stayed in this camp about three or four days to account for all the prisoners. When all the dead were identified, the Japanese made us take them across the canal to the Yokohama side and cremate them. I did not make the trip. That was one job I could do without.

Now the traveling prisoner is ready for a new camp; always heading for a new camp site. If it wasn’t for being a prisoner, I could have been on a camping trip. We didn’t have to march this time. I believe Shibawa provided the trucks to take us to our new camp. It was quite a distance from Shibawa and in an area that had not been bombed. The site was a residential area surrounded by small hills on the south.

A large cave was in one of the hills. The camp had two barracks, one on the north side for us and one on the south side for the guard quarters. It also had a cookhouse, bathhouse and toilet. There was a large parade ground between the two barracks. We were a long distance from any industrial area so we didn’t have much to do. It was first time in three years we had that much time to ourselves.

One day, a Japanese told us about many people getting killed by two huge bombs. He said that the American people were very bad to kill so many people. We finally got one of the Japanese newspapers and found that two atomic bombs had been dropped.

The Japanese did not mistreat us at this time, but we knew something was in the air. One morning we got up and went outside for exercise; the weather was overcast at about 1000 feet. It was as if a blanket had been thrown over us. There was no sunshine whatsoever. A little later we heard many aircraft overhead. We had no idea whose planes they were or why they were in the area. Since there was no bombing and we were not sure what to think. The next day was again overcast. We could not see the planes, but they were up there, really buzzing around. No bombs, no guns, and it was very disturbing not knowing what was going on. We were wondering if we were going to be blown out of another camp when the overcast lifted. We kept quiet and careful about our actions. Maybe that helped because this became our last camp.

About 11 a.m. we were called out for muster. The Japanese were all in their dress uniforms and swords. Some of the guards were putting a table and table cloth with a radio in the parade grounds. After muster we were marched to the cave. One guard stayed with us standing outside. While we were waiting to see what was going to happen, one of the Javanese Dutch said that the Japanese were getting ready to surrender. When the radio started blaring, all the Japanese came to attention.  Every time something was said, they would salute and bow. Finally, the speech was over. We were told to come out of the cave. We went down to the parade ground to wait and hear what had been said over the radio. The officer-in-charge told us how good the Japanese had treated us during our stay and that now the war was over and we should be friends. Then he told us that all the guns had been removed from the camp. The weapons in camp would be swords and bayonets for our own safety.

That is when our doctor took over the camp. The Japanese gave us paint and brushes to paint PW on the roofs of our buildings to identify that we were prisoners of war and not to bomb us. While we were painting PW, we got the idea to send the pilots a message requesting coffee, sugar and cream. The next day our sign was answered. These items were already coming in by the time we got out of bed. There must have been a daylight launch from the carriers. The fighter pilots had put the items in the cockpit. Coming low and slow, they flipped the plane upside down and here came coffee for breakfast! This went on for almost two days. We finally had to mark out coffee, cream and sugar. The compound was getting full of these items which had broken when hitting the ground, but we drank coffee all day and night. It sure was good!

Later torpedo bombers started coming in with sea bags stuffed with food, candy, newspapers, notes, clothes, smokes and whatever they could get their hands on. Each plane had four sea bags in the bomb bay. They just kept coming all day long. Then the big birds started dropping food and clothing on chutes. These landed all over the hills. For two days we hauled packages, parcels and boxes. It looked like we were a supply depot. We had enough shoes to outfit an army. We stuffed ourselves. We made donuts and everything we could think of. We made pancakes with sugar syrup. For us it was like Thanksgiving.

Then came the day we had waited for so many days and nights. We were going home or at least we were going out to the ships in Tokyo Bay. We all cleaned up with a shave and a shower, got our gear tied up that we were taking with us and mustered in the compound.  We were waiting for the Japanese bus to pick us up and take us to the docks. The bus was late and while standing waiting we talked about home and other things.

Soon a large plane marked with a red cross appeared overhead. This plane was flying toward the south, wiggling its wings in salute, and kept on going. It was such a pretty sight to see our planes without worrying if one of the bombs would be yours. The pilot circled the plane back north of us and headed back south directly to our camp. No one had any idea what would happen in the next few minutes. Those 90 plus men standing and watching came about as close to losing their lives as we did when bombs were dropped.

All at once the bomb bay doors opened and what looked like a house was a large platform with food and clothes. The plane was low and directly above us. The parachutes snatched boxes of canned goods and clothing off the platform. The chutes tore loose from the platform of canned goods which had six or seven boxes on each. We were stunned; no one could move. There was no place to run and hide. It was too late to try for the gate into the hills. All the Japanese were in their office when about six cases of canned peas went through the roof in to the office where they were having tea.  All of us were running around bumping into each other, dodging cartons or whatever came down. The Japanese officers came out of their building like scared rats, yelling and asking what was going on. They got out in the compound just in time to see the finish of the drop. Only one person was hurt.  A Red Cross medical kit hit a Javanese Dutch on the wrist and broke it. While all this was going on, one of our boys made the statement “Hell, the Yanks couldn’t kill us all with bombs so they tried it with Red Cross supplies. We fooled them.  We are still among the living!”

The bus finally arrived.  We didn’t pick up the material that was dropped. We did take the medical kit. The doctor wrapped up the injured man’s broken arm. We arrived at the docks and what a sight to see! All those American ships anchored in Tokyo Bay. There were many landing craft at the docks. We were standing waiting for someone to tell us what to do when we heard a voice say, “Get in the damn boats, what do you need, a special invitation?” When I got in the barge I asked one of the sailors who that was doing the yelling. He said “Aw, that was only Bull Halsey.” I said “OK, let him yell.” I was not about to say anything about my favorite sea-going sailor.

On the hospital ship we encountered rough waters. One time we would be looking at the deck and next we would be looking at the keel. It reminded me of being in the Bering Sea when the Japanese cruiser picked us up. Finally they lowered the stretchers down and one at a time and we were finally aboard the ship, and started to change clothes. They wanted to burn ours because of the bugs.  We stayed on the hospital ship overnight.  We slept on the top deck out under the stars and with a full belly. This is where 12 Americans who had been through a lot of tough days and nights parted company.

MacArthur and Bull Halsey got into an argument about taking the prisoners out of the camps before the armistice was signed on the battleship Missouri.  Finally, Halsey told MacArthur to do as he damned well pleased with his Army and Air Force and the Navy would take care of everyone else. And that is just what happened. The next day I was sent with some of the others who were fit to travel – ones who did not need hospitalization. We were taken to an airfield in Japan and put on a plane for the United States and home. The pilot asked if we would like to see Tokyo and Yokohama from the air. We agreed that we needed to see what was left of the area we had been bombed out of so many times. What a bare black looking place. Then we talked the pilot into flying over Mount Fuji.

I arrived at the naval hospital in Oakland, California on September 10th.  I went to Seattle Naval Hospital next and stayed there until February 1946. I returned to duty at Seattle Naval Air Station. I met many of the men who had been in Squadron VP-41.  I stayed in the Navy until I retired in 1960 then I said goodbye. Twenty years was enough for me . . . or so I thought.  Many times since then I would have been very happy to go back.

I always assumed that the Canadians or English were the hardiest people, but three years in confinement taught me the Americans were far superior.

Eleven Americans left the Stadium Camp in February 1943, and were together until August 1945 when we went our separate ways to return to our families.

Eight men survived the Bataan Death March:

  • Charles L.V. Barlow               SGT PVT        Lenox, Tennessee
  • Robert M. Juarez                     PVT                 Saticoy, California
  • Bryon Woods                          PVT                 Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • John Pimperal                          PVT                 Chicago, Illinois
  • Hilton S. Elmore                     PVT                 Glenwood, Oregon
  • Eugene Odor                           PVT                 Newport, Kentucky
  • Fred Thompson                       CPL                 Deming, New Mexico
  • Walter Higgs                           CPL                 Rome,  Georgia

 

Two men survived the invasion of Kiska, Alaska:

  • Walter Winfrey                       2nd Class Aero           Staten Island, New York
  • Mike Palmer                            1st Class Seaman        Prineville, Oregon

 

I survived a plane crash in the Bering Sea, Alaska:

Carl E. Creamer                      3rd Class AOM           Filer, Idaho

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

SOURCES: Jeanette Creamer, Jacksonville, Florida; Richard Creamer, Milton, Florida; Roger Creamer, Green Cove Springs, Florida; Barbara Weedman, Jacksonville, Florida; Aviation Ordnance Hall of Fame, http://www.aaoweb.org/AAO/Hallfame/; Maritime Patrol Association Hall of Honor, http://www.maritimepatrolassociation.org/hallofhonor/; Osborne County Farmer, March 21, 1921; Florida Times-Union, August 26, 2012.

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.

Garry G. Sigle – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 6, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the second of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)

Garry_Sigle_5x7_300dpiGarry G. Sigle was born in Russell, Russell County, Kansas, on October 28, 1956.  His parents were Richard and Evea Jane (Applegate) Sigle.  Garry was the youngest of five children.  Arris, Donna, Larry and Scott are his siblings.  Richard Sigle farmed 17 miles south and 5 miles east of Osborne, Kansas, near the Cheyenne United Methodist Church in Jackson Township of Osborne County, Kansas.  Evea Jane taught 5th grade at Osborne Elementary from 1962 until 1978.  Garry grew up working with his dad and brothers on the family farm throughout his grade school and high school years and even returned during the summers of college to help on the farm.

Garry played summer league baseball from 5th grade on and played junior high football, basketball and track & field.  At Osborne High School he participated in cross-country, basketball and track & field lettering in cross-country four years, basketball one and track & field 3 years.  In cross-country his highest individual finish was 3rd his senior year at the state meet.  In track & field he was the Northern Kansas League champion in the mile and 2-mile his senior year, and was the state champion in the indoor mile & outdoor mile and in the 2-mile, setting school records in both (4:24.1 and 9:33.1).  Both are still the state records for those respective events.

Garry then attended Fort Hays State University (FHSU) on a cross-country and track & field scholarship, majoring in Industrial Arts.

Fort Hays State University sports awards:

  • Four-Time NAIA All-American, twice in cross-country (12th , 1975 and 11th , 1977) and twice in indoor track & field (2nd in 2-mile, 1976, 2nd in 2-mile, 1978)
  • Was an Outdoor Track & Field Honorable mention All-American (5th in 10,000 meters, 1978)
  • Earned the Busch Gross award as the Fort Hays State University outstanding senior athlete, 1978
  • Inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame, 2008

Prior to his senior year, Garry married Linda Samuelson.  Upon graduation from FHSU, Garry was hired to be the industrial arts (woodworking/drafting) instructor at Riley County High School, where he stayed for 33 years.  He was also the head cross-country and head track & field coach.  In addition to his duties as a teacher/coach, he was also the Huddle Coach for the Riley County Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 29 years.  In 2011 Garry was inducted into the Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coaches Hall of Fame.

While at Riley County, Garry was named the Manhattan Area Walmart Teacher of the Year in 1998.  His coaching resumé includes 12 team state championships.  Seven of those have come in girls cross-country, three in boys cross-country and one each in girls track & field and boys track & field.  He has many top three team finishes at the state meet in both sports.  Garry has coached ten girls and seven boys to individual state titles in cross-country.  He has coached 33 boys and 52 girls to all-state honors (top 20 individual finishes at the state meet).  His cross-country teams have won 23 boys and 22 girls league championships.  In track & field, Riley County has had 28 boys and 28 girls win individual state championships and have had 112 boys and 113 girls earn all-state status (top 7 finishes in an event at the state track & field meet).  To finish his career, Coach Sigle had, for 17 consecutive years, at least one Riley County athlete who was an individual state champion at the KSHSAA Track & Field state meet.  Garry served as the chairman of cross-country for the Kansas Coaches Association from 1997 to 2008 and served as the President of the Kansas Cross-Country and Track & Field Coaches Association from 1996-2004.  He was the founder, editor and publisher of the Kansas Cross-Country Coaches Rankings, which he started in 1982 and continued until he retired in 2011.  In 2012 Garry was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame at the state track and field meet in Wichita.

Upon retirement from USD 378, Riley County in May, 2011, Garry was hired, starting in June, 2011, to be the Executive Director for the Kansas Association of American Educators.  That organization is a non-union professional teachers association.  He continues in that position today.

Garry has been married to his wife Linda for 36 years and together they have three sons:  Ben, his wife Cheryl and three grandchildren (Damon, Haley and Braden), who live in Manhattan; Luke and his wife Leah, who reside in Nashville, Tennessee; and Tim and his wife Lana, who live in Manhattan.

Garry has had many of his athletes move on to collegiate athletics including all three of his sons.  Ben Sigle was a multiple state champion while at Riley County and still holds the distinction of being the only freshman boy in Kansas history to ever win an individual state cross-country championship.  He is one of only a handful of those who won 3 state cross-country titles (missing his sophomore year with an injury when he placed 5th).  Ben went on to win 5 outdoor track & field individual titles in the distances.  He ran for Oklahoma State University and was All-Big 12 there.  Luke Sigle ran for Butler County Junior College and Oklahoma State University while Tim Sigle competed collegiately in golf at Cowley County Junior College.

Other former athletes include Jon McGraw who played football for Kansas State and professionally with the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.  Jon was a state champion triple jumper and still holds the Kansas 3A state record at 47’ 6 ¾”.  Amy Mortimer was the state champion in cross-country all four years and won 9 individual distance event state championships in track and field.  Amy, during her senior year, ran the fastest mile for a female in the United States, running it in 4:42.4!  She went on to be a multiple All-American at Kansas State and finished third at the US National track & field meet in the 1500M in early 2000s.  Jordy Nelson was a multiple state champion in track & field but was better known as a Kansas State University wide receiver and now plays for the Green Bay Packers.  Jordy owns 3A state track & field records in the 100 (10.63 FAT) and 200 (21.64 FAT).

These are just a few of the outstanding athletes Garry had the opportunity to coach.  There were many, many others too numerous to mention.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle – Professional Resume:

Education

  • Licensed Private Pilot – Manhattan, Kansas 2003
  • TAC Level II Coaching School (Throws) – Provo, Utah 1992
  • TAC Level I Coaching School – Grinnell, Iowa 1988
  • M.S. in Physical Education, Kansas State University 1982
  • B.S. in Industrial Arts, Fort Hays State University 1978
  • High School Diploma, Osborne High School 1974

 Athletic Achievements

Fort Hays State University: Hays, Kansas 1974-1978

  • NAIA All-American
  • Cross Country – 1975 (12th), 1977 (11th)
  • Indoor Track 2-Mile – 1976 (2nd), 1978 (2nd)
    • NAIA All-American Honorable Mention
    • Outdoor Track 10,000 meters – 1978 (5th)
    • Busch Gross Award Winner
      • Outstanding Senior Athlete – 1978
      • CSIC Champion
      • Outdoor Track 3 mile – 1976, 1978
        • CSIC All-Conference Honors
        • Cross Country 1974 (8th), 1975 (6th)
        • 1976 (4th), 1977 (3rd)
          • Tiger Sports Hall of Fame – October, 2008

Osborne High School: Osborne, Kansas 1970-1974

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Champion
    • Indoor Track 1 mile – 1974
    • Outdoor Track 1 mile & 2 mile – 1974
    • All-State Cross Country
      • 1972 (11th), 1973 (3rd)

Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes:

  • Coaches Hall of Fame – April, 2011

Riley County High School: Riley, KS

  • The School District named the track the Garry Sigle Track – May 4, 2011

Kansas State High School Activities Association:

  • Induction into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame – May, 2012

 Professional Experience

Kansas Association of American Educators: Executive Director, June, 2011 to present

Riley County High School: Riley, Kansas 1978 to 2011

  • Industrial Education Instructor: Woodworking & Drafting/Computer Aided Drafting
  • Head Teacher: 2006 to 2011
  • Block Schedule Seminar Committee Chairperson: 1997 to 2011
  • Head Cross Country Coach: Boys 1979 to 2011, Girls 1981 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Invitational, Regional
  • Head Track & Field Coach: Boys and Girls 1982 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Quadrangulars, Invitationals, League, Regional, AAU
  • Head Basketball Coach: Girls 1980 to 1982
  • Assistant Track & Field Coach: 1979 to 1981
  • Assistant Junior High Basketball Coach: Boys 1978 to 1980

City of Riley: Riley, Kansas Summer 2001, Summer 2002

  • Pool Manager

KSHSAA: 1978 to 1993

  • Certified Basketball Official

Coaching Achievements

Cross Country

32  years Boys Head Coach, 29 years Girls Head Coach

6 years as coach of the Blue Valley athletes – 2004-2010

State Team Championships: Boys = 3, Girls = 7

State Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 6, Girls = 9

                                                           Blue Valley Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Top Six Team Finishes: Boys = 15, Girls = 19

All-State Individuals: Riley County Boys = 33, Girls = 52

Blue Valley Boys = 4, Girls = 2

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 10, Girls = 14

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 9, Girls = 5

League Team Championships: Boys = 23, Girls = 22

League Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 19, Girls = 23

Blue Valley Boys = 2, Girls = 1

Track & Field

30 years Head Coach, 3 years Assistant Coach

State Team Championships: Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Team Runners-Up: Boys = 2, Girls = 3

State Top Ten Team Finishes: Boys = 14, Girls = 17

State Individual Event Champions: Boys = 28, Girls = 28

All-State Performers: Boys = 112, Girls = 113

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 2, Girls = 7

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 7, Girls = 1

League Team Championships: Boys = 13, Girls = 10

17 consecutive years with at least one individual state Track & Field Champion – 1995 to 2011

Professional Honors and Achievements

  • Head Cross Country Coach for Down Under Sports (Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer 2008
  • Head Track & Field Coach for Down Under Sports (Kansas/Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Distance Coach for International Sports Tours to Scotland, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland – Summer 2000
  • Kansas Coaches Association Cross Country Chairman for the state of Kansas: 1997 to 2008
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Class 3A Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2005
  • Finalist for National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association National Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year – 2011
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2010
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1999
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1998
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 1992, 2009
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association President: 1996 to 2004
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Secretary: 1986 to 1996
  • Wal-Mart Manhattan Area Teacher of the Year: 1998
  • Founder, Editor and Publisher of Kansas Cross Country Coaches Rankings: 1982 to 2010
  • Region 8 AAU Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 2000, 2002
  • NJCAA National Indoor Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 1991 to 1994
  • Kansas All Star Track & Field Meet Coach: 1988, 1989
  • Race Director of Riley Five & One: 1983 to 1987, 1992
  • Race Director of Bridge to ‘Burg 10K: 1980 to 1987

 Professional Presentations

  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas Senate Education Committee Hearing
  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas House Education Committee Hearing
  • 2011 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2011 – Testified at Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 2008 – Butler County Comm. College XC Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 2007 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2006 – Wichita State University Track & Field Clinic
  • 2005 – KSHSAA Coaching School Cross Country Speaker
  • 2005 – KCCTFCA Track & Field Coaching Clinic
  • 2004 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Panelist
  • 2003 – Brown Mackie Championship Basketball Clinic Speaker
  • 2002 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1998 – Fort Hays State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1997 – KSHSAA Coaching School Track & Field Speaker
  • 1991 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1985 – Bethany College Track & Field Clinic Speaker
  • 1983 – K.C. Harmon Track & Field Clinic Panelist

Leadership Experience

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Rules Interpreter: 2004 to 2010
  • KCCTFCA Coaches Clinic Coordinator: 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle Coach: 1979 to 2007
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes State Conference Athletic Director: 1995 to 2003
  • Association of American Educators Member: 1995 to present
  • Westview Community Church Local Board of Administration: 1989 to 1992, 1996 to 1997, 2008 to 2011
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Coaches Camp Athletic Director: 1991
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Running Camp Staff: 1986
  • NASA Teacher in Space Applicant: 1985
  • Walsburg Lutheran Church Councilman: 1981 to 1985

Articles Published

  • Minimum Requirements for Interscholastic Coaches”, Journal of Physical Education and Recreation, Noble and Sigle, November/December 1980
  • Cross Country Training”, Green Light Sports, Sigle, October 1997
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays  State University runner.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays State University runner.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle upon his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Garry Sigle waving to the crowd at his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in May 2012.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle’s Riley County High School State Championship Teams:

1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1995 State Cross-Country  Championship Team.
1995 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.

Richard Haynes “Dick” Wykoff – 1996 Inductee

The Great American Pastime, baseball, took on a new meaning in the lives of Osborne County citizens as they followed the storied career of one of their own, Richard Haynes Wykoff.  Richard, or “Dick” as he was universally known, was born August 10, 1903, near Beloit, Kansas.  His parents, Charles and Ethel (Haynes) Wykoff, moved to Osborne two years later, where Dick attended the local schools.

Dick possessed a rich bass and while in high school he was persuaded to enter a regional vocal contest at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas.  Much to his surprise, he took second place.  He was a member of the 1923 Osborne High School football team which went unbeaten in eight games and also lettered in basketball, baseball, and track.  He once drop-kicked a football fifty-five yards against Phillipsburg.

In 1925 Wykoff tried out with the Class D Salina Millers, a professional baseball club in the Southwestern League.  He signed a contract for $175 a month as a starting pitcher.  His pitching record of 15-10 got him signed up for the 1926 season also.  In 96 games Wykoff compiled a 25-6 record, while leading the league in home runs (28) with a batting average of .380.  He also played eleven games as an outfielder, twelve games at second base, and thirty games at third.  By then major league scouts had discovered this hidden talent, and in July 1926 the Cincinnati Reds bought his contract from Salina.  It was the highest price ever paid for a Southwestern League player.

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“In Richard Haynes Wykoff . . . the Cincinnati Reds may have picked up another Babe Ruth or a Pete Schneider.  Wykoff is primarily a right-handed pitcher, but most important of all, a jack-of-all-trades on the diamond.  He specializes in clubbing the pellet at a terrific clip.  Wykoff appears to be another Ruth or Schneider in the making for the simple reason that he can hit and play other positions in an emergency.  He demonstrated his versatility in convincing style last season.  he proved the second best pitcher in the Southwestern, and one of its most dangerous sluggers.  The dynamite he carried in his bat made him so valuable that he was used in the outfield, at second base and at third base at various times during the campaign.

“As a pitcher all that Wykoff lacks is experience.  He has all the necessary wherewithals of a successful moundsman, speed, control, a nice mixture of curves and a nifty change of pace . . . Wykoff, a lad of excellent habits – he does not smoke, drink, or chew – is five feet, ten inches tall, and weighs 175 pounds . . . .” – James J. Murphy in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 3, 1927.

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For the 1927 season Wykoff was farmed out to the Class A Springfield (Massachusetts) Hampdens where he won 19 games and was recalled by the Reds before the end of the season.  In 1928 he was again assigned to Springfield with a one-year contract for $2700.  That year he broke his knee for the second time (the first was in 1926), an injury that prevented him from having a long career in the major leagues.  After his injury healed Dick finished the season with Class AA Columbus, Ohio, where he finished with a .385 batting average and lost an exhibition game to the New York Yankees by a score of 3-0 on a line-drive home run by Babe Ruth.  He later said he threw a fastball just to see the great Babe hit a home run.

Dick Wykoff as a member of the House of David Bearded Aces.

Having signed a contract worth $500 a month (a phenomenal amount in those days), Dick felt he could afford to take care of a family.  On July 14, 1928, he married Grace Hudson in Osborne.  The couple had three children, Julia, Mildred, and Gary.  Wykoff spent the 1929 season with Columbus, and the 1930 season with Pueblo, Colorado.  From 1930-32 he was with the Omaha (Nebraska) Royals, who went bankrupt midway through the season and the baseball commissioner ordered Wykoff released.  After a short time back in Osborne he earned a spot on the roster of the House of David Bearded Aces, a traveling semi-pro team managed by the legendary pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.  He toured with the House of David from 1933 to 1949, once pitching against Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs.  In a game which showed the major-league caliber of both pitchers, Paige bested Wykoff by the score of 1-0.

In 1949 Dick retired from baseball and bought a farm located six and a half miles west of Alton, Kansas.  He became a barber in 1951, opening shops in Alton and Osborne.  In 1962 he moved his family back to Osborne, where he retired from his second career in 1970.  He died June 12, 1983, in Hutchinson, Kansas, and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

Lee Arlo Wykoff – 1997 Inductee

Lee Arlo Wykoff was born March 10, 1898, in Mayetta, Jackson County, Kansas.  He was the eldest child of Charles and Ethel (Haynes) Wykoff.  The family moved from Mayetta to Mitchell County, Kansas, and then to Osborne, Kansas, where Lee became an outstanding athlete in football, baseball, and track.  He graduated from Osborne High School in 1918 and enrolled in Washburn College at Topeka, Kansas, and became the football team’s starting fullback.  In 1920 he earned Little All-American honors at his position and later enrolled at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.  On February 17, 1920, he married Nada Hayes in Topeka, Kansas.  They had two children, Dorothy and Robert.  After graduation from college Lee began a career in professional wrestling.  The first few years were a learning experience.

“The wrestling match at the Crystal Theatre last Wednesday evening between Lee Wykoff of Gravette, Arkansas, and Albion Britt of Luray [Kansas] drew the largest crowd that ever assembled at a like sporting event in this city.  The paid admissions were in the neighborhood of $165.00 and a good share of the crowd was composed of ladies who appeared to enjoy the sport equally with the men . . . Britt was on the offensive every minute after they finally got into action and won the first fall with an armlock and head chancery after forty-six minutes of strenuous work . . . Britt won the second and deciding fall in twenty-five minutes, using an armlock and body scissors.  Britt showed up to mighty good advantage in every stage of the game and easily outclassed Wykoff in quickness and knowledge of the game, and apparently his equal in strength and endurance.  Wykoff is strong, persistent, and courageous, but did not appear to have the finish of his stockier opponent.” — Osborne County Farmer, April 22, 1926.

But over time Lee emerged as one of the nation’s greatest scientific wrestlers whose strength was feared by any opponent unlucky enough to fall in his grasp.  He stood six feet, one inch and weighed 195 pounds in college, bulking up to 225 pounds at the height of his wrestling career.  Lee was noted as a good influence for youngsters in that he did not smoke, drink, or chew.  For a short time he wore a mask and wrestled under the name of “The Big Bad Wolf.”  But it was under his own name that Lee at last reached the pinnacle of his profession between 1940 and 1945, when he was declared champion heavyweight wrestler of the world by the Western Association of Chicago.  During that period Lee was also named world champion twice by the Boston circuit of professional wrestling and in Los Angeles he won the International Heavyweight Championship, a title he held for four years.

“It isn’t often that a little town like Osborne turns out a world champion,” said the Osborne County Farmer at the time, “and we can be pardoned if we boast a little and take on a little reflected glory.” 

Lee settled his family on a forty-acre hog farm on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas.  His wife Nada died in 1935 and Lee then married Eleanor Lampert on September 17, 1938.  During World War II he helped the war effort by working in a bomber plant in Kansas City.  At the end of 1947 Lee retired from wrestling and worked his farm, supplementing his income by working in security for an assortment of employers.  Lee was an active member in the Masonic Lodge and for a time he was president of the Retired Wrestlers Club.  He was a deacon in the White Church Southern Baptist Church, where his funeral was held after Lee passed away April 30, 1974, in Kansas City.  He was interred there in the Chapel Hill Cemetery.  Together with his brother, Dick, the Wykoff brothers’ legendary feats in sports will be remembered in Osborne County for many years to come.

Lee Wykoff in this official photo from the 1930s.

 

Darrel LeVerle Wolters – 2010 Inductee

Darrel Wolters – An Autobiography

Darrel LeVerle Wolters, a lifetime teacher and coach, was born in the Portis, Kansas hospital on July 24, 1942.  Dr. Burtch, another Portis County Hall of Famer, did the delivery.  Portis, Kansas was always known for basketball because of the legendary 1920-1930s Portis Dynamos, who ruled Kansas semi-pro teams with numerous championships over cities with populations thousands of times larger.  In fact LeVerle Wolters, my dad, played in the 1930s on this well known team. So it was probably in the blood that I was going to like basketball. At early age, my uncle gave me the nickname of “Spook” because I was so shy.  I am still known in this area as Spook. The disadvantage was when I entered high school I was only 51” tall. I realized that being small in stature, I would have to practice more than my competition. So I played and practiced ball every day, several hours a day.  LeVerle owned the Wolters Lumber Yard, and every Wednesday and Saturday mornings it was packed with boisterous and back seat coaches.  A new school was built in 1951, which was envy of many schools because of atmosphere and gymnasium.  By the way, it wasn’t hard to know what the town considered important in the school system, the gymnasium laid smack in middle of all the classrooms that were built around the gym. The little quiet town of Portis (less than 200 people) had three churches and most put on their best clothes and attended church on Sunday morning, honoring God.

It was in the lumber yard, as I remember, that I realized if you were going to amount to anything or get recognition you better be pretty good at basketball. As a youngster I can remember many Saturday mornings as everyone would huddle around the old wood and coal stove, the excitement would soon lead to laughter as someone’s coat would start to smoke as they had backed up too close to the stove in the passion of stories, of the night before ball games. Someone would beat out the fire with their gloves and the stories of heroics would go on. Portis had no football in the school system, as a severe injury back in the 1930s to a young athlete caused the school board to abolish the sport. So in the fall, baseball was played and there were not many nearby opponents, so we would travel in cars long distances to find competition. Coach Stark would take his station wagon, and rest of the transportation was by students driving to games in their own old car; so we would jump in with our buddies. We had no buses. As servicemen returned from World War II, every town had town team baseball games.  I would follow my dad to all them and developed a love for baseball as well as basketball. Then in the 1950s as everyone got older it changed to softball.

As my high school years commenced, I became a part of some outstanding basketball teams, going to State in both of my junior and senior years.  Portis was in Class BB and the State Basketball Tournament was played at Dodge City Auditorium.  Portis was a part of the North-South Solomon League. It was made up of these schools – Woodston Coyotes, Lebanon Broncos, Gaylord Beavers, Agra Purple Chargers, Kirwin Wildcats, Kensington Goldbugs, and Portis’ biggest rivalry, the Alton Wildcats.  Kensington is the only school that still has an attendance center.

It was after success in high school I knew I wanted to coach basketball and give young kids the same experiences I had.  Upon my high school graduation and turning down a couple of scholarships, I chose Fort Hays State for college because it was closer to home.  Remember, my nickname is Spook.

In 1963 I was married to the lovely Diana (Suzi) Holloway, from Alton Kansas. We have four children: Melody, Dusty, Jason and Mandy.  In 1965 my long time dream of coaching and teaching became a reality, as I was contracted to teach and coach at Utica High School. I coached all Junior and Senior High sports, including baseball, basketball, cross country and track. I was fortunate enough to have coached Dave Burrell for six years, the all time Kansas High School Season Scoring Average leader at 33.3 points per game. After six years teaching and coaching the Utica Dragons, I moved on to coach four years at Wheatland (a consolidated high school for the towns of Grainfield, Gove and Park, Kansas). There I was head boys basketball coach as well as track. I taught Biology and Physical Education. After limited success, I came back from western Kansas and was hired to run Ken’s Department Store in Osborne, Kansas. There was no teaching vacancies available on my return to my home county. After three years as a haberdasher, I then managed House of Diamonds, a jewelry store, for two years.  I enjoyed the business world, but always wanted to get back into teaching. There is nothing like working with young people. Watching their lives change into young men and women is awesome, and I am always just hoping you might make a little difference. And to teach in my home district is extra special.  I always looked at teaching as a tremendous responsibility. The parents are entrusting you with the greatest commodity they have, their children.

At Osborne I taught 7th and 8th Grade Science and Physical Education.  I assisted with basketball and football. I taught 23 years in Osborne U.S.D. School District #392 before retiring from teaching in 2004 and from coaching basketball in 2007.  I coached High School Golf for 19 years, with our best finish a 3rd place in the State Golf Tournament in 2000.  In the late 1980s I coached high school girls basketball for the first time in my career.  In four years I had good teams but state play was elusive.  In 1997 some parents came to me and asked if I would consider coaching the girls again, as the teams had been struggling.

After saying yes, the next decade was truly a dream come true.  Darrel was blessed to have some talented athletes who were as crazy about basketball as he was.  Not only were these kids basketball players, but they were intelligent and filled with amazing tenacity!  I would encourage them to practice all summer and they would get up 6:30 A.M. to lift weights and shoot hoops for hours. They were disciplined and loved to compete. The Osborne girls practiced harder and longer than any of their opponents.  Often there were three hours a night of basketball practice and they never complained.  It was such an honor to coach them and even more important to see how successful they are today, as family leaders and successful in their professional careers.

It was at this time that Osborne Lady Bulldogs not only took the community by storm, but provided me with the dream of letting my players experience State Play that I experienced nearly 40 years ago at Portis High School. I will never forget in 2000, the moment that we won the State Championship undefeated, looking up at the score board in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, and thanking God, that a little boy from a little village had attained what he dreamed of all his life. Along with my team, my family, my assistant coach Jamie Wolters, and all the fans that funneled down Highway 24 for the 130 miles trip east from Osborne; only in America could this happen.

The stats look something like this. An undefeated State Championship and 26-0 in 2000; a winning streak of 51 straight games; the runner-up in the 2001 State Tournament with a record of 25-1; another State Championship in 2002; the runner-up again in 2003; winning six Mid-Continent League titles; a overall 98-6 record in the four-year span; playing in four straight State Championship Title Games; six overall trips to the State Basketball Tournament; and compiling a record of 260 wins and 72 losses in 14 years of coaching the Lady Bulldogs, with never a losing season. I was named Coach of the Year twice in the Salina Journal and Wichita Eagle newspapers. I coached two Kansas Coaches All-Star games in Topeka, as well as one at Colby. I received Coach of the Year honors from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association twice. I was basketball clinician at the Kansas Coaches Association Clinic in Topeka, as well as at Fort Hays State University. In year 2000 The Osborne Lady Bulldogs and their coach were rewarded with a trip to the chambers of the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representatives for special recognition as undefeated State Class 2A Basketball Champions.

Longtime and successful girls’ basketball coach of the Smith Center Redmen, Nick Linn, said of Coach Wolters, “I don’t ever remember a game where Coach Wolters had his players anything less than 100% ready.  They were always well-prepared.  Coach emphasized great defense.  You have to score to win.  Problem was, they wouldn’t let us score.  Offense wins games . . . Defense wins championships”.

Many of my athletes went on to play college ball and excelled at every level. Many school records both team and individual were recorded. I am most proud of the kind of teams we put on the floor. I received many cards, calls, and letters about how the teams played with so much enthusiasm. Many noticed how they always dressed up for game day, and carried themselves with pride and loyalty. They were gracious in victory and humble in defeat. Most people don’t realize what truly makes a great teams. Everyone can’t be a star on a basketball team and there are many unselfish role players that are just as much or more important to the team. We had a ton of them. They were the ones who inspired, gave out the assists, rebounded, played tough defense, worked hard so that our teams could be successful. I loved those gals, because they had the heart of David. We were so fortunate to have support of businesses and community and on game nights brought us all together, to pull for each other. I feel very humbled to have had this ride with these beautiful kids along with God’s Grace, they still call me COACH.

Since retirement coach I like to hunt, fish, and camp, as well as following my eleven grandchildren in academics and athletics. I love being active in the Grace Brethren Church, giving back just a little of what the Lord blessed me with in my teaching and coaching profession.

Darrel Wolters

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Darrel Wolters on His Osborne High Bulldog Teams

The first year, 1998, we were defeated in finals of Sub-State in the last couple minutes to Valley Heights High School by the score of 76-71. That was the last motivation that this group of girls needed. As they say, the next few years is history. The 1999 Lady Bulldogs went 19-5 and earned their first trip for Coach Wolters as their leader. In the first round at the State Tournament in Bramlage Coliseum it was a heart breaking loss of 60-59 in overtime to Jackson Heights High School. Members of that State team were April and Amber Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Stephanie Corwin, Alisha Spears, Kristi Hartzler, Skylar Boland, Mellisa Legg, Angela Gashaw, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Malea Henke. Little did we know at that time, but motel rooms, restaurants, and Bulldog Mania would soon set into Osborne County every March.

The 1999 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

The turn of the century was a fairy tale come true. In 2000 the Lady Bulldogs became the first basketball team in Osborne High history, boys or girls, to go undefeated, 26-0.  Osborne won the pre­season tourney, league tournament, overall Mid-Continent League Champs, and the Sub-State tourney.  In the first round of the State Tournament the Bulldogs annihilated Valley Heights 64-35 in Manhattan, Kansas. In the semi­finals they outplayed Garden Plain, a very quality team, 51-41. The finals saw hundreds of Osborne Bulldog fans fill the their side of Bramlage Coliseum for the match with Moundridge. Moundridge started five seniors and  featured Laurie Koehn, who went on to star for four years with the Kansas State University Wildcats.  Maroon and Gold went Wild!  The final score was 61-54 for Coach Wolters’ first State Championship, as well as for Osborne High School. It was the most talented and toughest team I ever had. I give all the credit to them, and so thankful the good Lord allowed this time, this place, with this group to share once in a life time event. Not many times in life can you be perfect! The members were: Amber and April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Mary Wilson, Kristie Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Jessica Spears, Melissa Legg, Brooke Ubelaker, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Alisha Spears. The team bought Championship Undefeated Rings, and were rewarded with several school and community celebrations.

Final Score, 2000 Kansas Class 2A State Girls Basketball Tournament
The 2000 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Champion Team
Darrel Wolters as 2000 Coach of the Year
Coach Wolters told his team that if they won the 2000 State Championship he would shave his moustache!

2001 started out like 2000, as this new team won 25 straight games without a defeat, ending with a 51-game winning streak. Again they won the preseason, league tourney and league title, along with the sub-state tournament. In the first round of State, the Bulldogs defeated Valley Heights 65-35. In the semi-finals the Lady Dogs set an all time Class 2A defensive record by holding Inman to just 22 points for the entire game. It was a masterful exhibition of pressure defense that completely stymied our opponents. This record still stands for all State Playoff games. The finals of the State Championship was a heart breaker, as Garden Plains handed the Bulldogs their first defeat in 52 games by score of 54-45. After playing three games in three days we seemed to be just a step slow. I feel we could and should have beat them on most nights. We ended the season 25-1, another super year! Team members were: April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Ashley Noel, Kristen Henke, Mary Wilson„ Denise Hartzler, Anne Zeiger, Jill Smith, Brooke Ubelaker, Jessica Spears, Alisha Spears, and Hanna Wilson.  Expectations were growing at OHS.

The 2001 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

2002 was another dominating year for the Osborne girls, winning all four tournaments and their second State Championship in three years. Hundreds of cars funneled down Highway 24 to the Little Apple. The opening round at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan saw Osborne defeat Onaga 61-41. In the second round Osborne whipped Sublette 68-54. Sublette had Shayla Lenning, who went on and became an All-American for Emporia State University. The finals was between Osborne and the Ness City Eagles, who also had one loss. It was an exciting game, but the Bulldogs pulled away late in the game with a 55-38 trouncing.  Members of that team were: April Roadhouse, Brooke Ubelaker, Ashley Noel, Mary Wilson, Karie Ubelaker, Denise Hartzler, Rachel Noel, Meridith Musil, Jessica Spears, Krisa Ubelaker, Lacey Sechtem and Jill Smith. The Cinderella streak continued. With another State Championship, everybody in the State of Kansas knew about the Osborne Lady Bulldogs.

The 2002 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Champion Team

The 2003 Bulldogs’ record ended at 23-3. After winning the league tourney, league championship, and Sub-State Tournament, Osborne returned to State for their fifth straight year. In the sub-state tournament Osborne bombed Lincoln 75-45 in the first round; the semi-finals found Osborne beating a good Sacred Heart team 53-50. The finals of sub-state was Osborne 53 and Valley Heights 46. Again the Bulldogs marched to the State Tourney finals for the fourth straight year. In the first round we doubled the score 76-36 against Uniontown. In the semi-finals Osborne ousted St. John 69-63. In the finals, a powerful Moundridge team won by score of 73-55. This give these Senior girls two State Championships and two runner-ups, with an unbelievable record of 98-6.  Seniors were Denise Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Brooke Ubelaker, Jill Smith, Jessica Spears. Others are Tracey Conway, Karie Ubelaker, Rachael Noel, Krisa Ubelaker, Michele Princ, Meredith Musil, and Kelli LaRosh.

The 2003 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

After retirement coach Wolters wanted to try and get another group to state and it took four years, with a one point loss in the finals of sub-state in 2006. In 2007 they put it together and returned to Manhattan and the Class 2A State Tournament.  The first round, the Lady Maroon and Gold defeated St. John 61-57 in a hard fought game. The semi-finals was another back and forth game as Osborne lost 52-46 to Oakley. The Bulldogs won third place at State with a 57-47 win over Cimarron. This team consisted of Jannica Schultze, Demi French, Traci Mans, Paige Noel, Amberleigh Plowman, Hanna Thibault, Stephanie Plowman, Katie Wolters, Jeni Wolters, Tana Spears, Emily Girard and Blake Nichols. These girls worked real hard to keep tradition going.

The 2007 Osborne High Lady Bulldog State Tournament Team

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Kansas Enrolled Bill #1841 Session 2000
Effective: April 6, 2000

SENATE RESOLUTION NO.1841

A Resolution congratulating and commending Coach Darrel Wolters.

 WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters has been selected by the Wichita Eagle as the Girls Coach of the Year and by the Salina Journal as the All Area Girls Coach of the Year; and

 WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters coached the Osborne High School girls basketball team to the 2000 class 2A Kansas High School Activities Association Championship.  The team completed a perfect 26-0 season by defeating top-ranked and four-time defending state champion Moundridge 61-54 in the class 2A championship game; and

WHEREAS, In 29 years of coaching, Coach Wolters has taken teams to the state tournament in baseball, cross country, track, golf and basketball, but the 2000 girls basketball championship was his first state championship. Wolters got out of coaching in 1990 because he thought it was time for him to retire from coaching but three seasons ago was persuaded by parents to return to coaching. In six years at Osborne he has a 101-34 record. During the season he may not get to bed before 4 a.m. because of looking at game films and entering data in the computer. During the summer he follows his players in league play and sends them packets of information in the mail; and

WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters and his wife, Suzi, have four children and seven grandchildren. Their home is at Portis, approximately 10 miles north of Osborne, which is Wolters’ home town: Now, therefore,

 Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Kansas:  That we congratulate and commend Darrel Wolters upon his selection as Coach of the Year and for his devotion to young persons’ dreams; and

Be it further resolved:  That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send five enrolled copies of this resolution to Darrel Wolters at Osborne High School, 219 N. Second, Osborne, Kansas 67473-2003.

Senate Resolution No. 1841 was sponsored by Senator Janis K. Lee.

Iva Maurine (Rothenberger) Wirth – 2004 Inductee

Iva Maurine (Rothenberger) Wirth was born in Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas on July 16, 1925.  She was the eighth of eleven children born to Franklin LaVerne “Verne” and Iva (Claytor) Rothenberger.   While attending the University of Kansas during World War II she set two school records in track and field and was a successful pitcher in exhibition games for the men’s university baseball team in 1943, finishing with a record of 9-1.  (Because of World War II, the men’s team could not field enough players, so they let Iva and her sister Lucile play with them.  Lucile was the team’s catcher.)  Iva declined a chance to study music in Europe to instead become a teacher in Kansas.  She married Emory Wirth on May 29, 1949 and taught at schools in Osborne, Waldo, Luray, Alton, Hill City, Stockton, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Liberal in a teaching career that spanned 45 years.  In between Iva found time to be a concert vocalist in Denver, appearing at Red Rocks Ampitheatre  and other regional venues.  Iva passed away in Osborne on January 27, 2000 and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.   She joins her grandfather Franklin Antone Rothenberger as a member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

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Iva (Rothenberger) Wirth

2004 Osborne County Hall of Fame Induction Speech

 – Speech written and presented by Lucile (Rothenberger) Romine, sister – 

Our sister, Iva, was the solid one in our family. She had such a strong sense of right and wrong backed by her spiritual conviction that I never remember of her being in trouble. She never lost her youthful innocence. She was a deep thinker.

At the age of three, when one of the family asked her to do something, she would say, “Dat fut me goin’ to do.” That was her pattern all through life. However, one did not have to ask. She was always there.

At the age of 10, Iva got to attend Church Camp located near Downs, Kansas. The camper’s last assignment was to go out and find something that represented a Bible story. They were then to come back and each present their story to the group. Iva made the headlines. She went to the creek, caught a minnow and told the story of Jonah and the Whale.

I must tell you this story.  We were all in country school.  Iva was a 2nd grader.  Grace Minear was the teacher.  She was great!  One day four o’clock came.  Time to go home.  She told us all to put away our books but didn’t dismiss us.  She looked us all in the eye and said the bell was missing. Whoever took it to please get it and return it to her desk where it belonged.  She set down and began to grade papers. Everybody sat and all eyes searched the room for the bell. Periodically she’d reminded us that we wouldn’t be dismissed until the bell was replaced.  No one moved.  Finally at five o’clock she dismissed all the girls and kept the boys. Just before six o’clock Darrell Paschal spied the bell, so got it and put it on her desk. Everybody knew Darrell was the culprit.  Yet, he swore up and down he did not do it.  Many years later, the burden got too heavy. Iva said she was having so much fun at recess she thought if she’d hide the bell the teacher couldn’t call us in.

Iva had varied interests and was a master of many. She was an excellent athlete. Our softball career started when she was in the 8th grade. By the time she was a sophomore, she became our pitcher. She could throw a curve under-handed. Osborne girls had a winning team. On game nights we had almost the whole town up as spectators. When Pop [Iva and Lucile’s father Verne] got off work, he would come and sit just off 3rd base and watch us. One night a traveling salesman came up from the hotel and sat down beside Pop. Pop was yelling at us. Pretty soon the salesman said, “You must know these girls pretty well.”  Pop replied, “Well I should. Five of them are mine.”

The salesman jumped up and went around to the bleachers. He sidled up to one of the spectators and asked, “Do you know that old codger sitting over there?”

“Verne Rothenberger? Sure!” 

“Well, he says he has five girls playing on this team.” 

“He does – the pitcher, the catcher, the 3rd  baseman, the center fielder, and the right fielder.”

At the University of Kansas [KU] different halls got up teams and played intramurals. Tournament time came, and Miller Hall was to play for the Soft Ball Championship against the Physical Education Department All Stars. The day of the game, one of our girls couldn’t play. We either had to forfeit or find another player. We enlisted little Jo Easter. She came about to my shoulder and had never played. She was terrified and didn’t want to bat. We told her to just bend over and hold her bat on her shoulder and she’d get to walk. Iva and I coached her around the bases. Miller Hall was holding our own. Miss Hoover, head of the university’s Physical Ed Department and coach of the All Stars, was also the umpire. Iva stepped up to bat. The pitcher threw a side arm. “Strike One!” Iva looked at Miss Hoover – but quietly stepped up to bat again. Another side arm pitch. “Strike Two!” yelled Miss Hoover. Iva quietly stepped back and said, “You know she’s throwing a side arm.”  Miss Hoover got red and yelled, “Batter up!” Iva planted her feet and hit the ball square. It went straight out and hit the pitcher on her pitching hand. A big goose egg swelled up. It put the pitcher out of the game. Miller Hall won the trophy.

Iva earned a letterman’s jacket in track also while at KU.  She held the university record in the shot put for many years.

Iva was never idle. When getting her degree at KU, she worked all night at the Sunflower Ordinance Plant, 15 miles east of Lawrence, to stay in school. After graduation, she taught school in Luray, Kansas. There, her life was fulfilled when she met and married Emory Wirth. The happiest time of her life was living on their farm in the Waldo community. Tragedy struck a year and a half after their marriage. Emory died very suddenly of spinal meningitis. She went back to Lawrence to work and to help her two sisters, Jo and Rae, through their first years of college. She then went to Denver, Colorado to the Lamont School of Music and got her Masters Degree in Voice from the world’s foremost teacher, Mrs. Florence Hindman.

When Iva was up for her Masters Recital she said she wanted her sister to accompany her.  Mrs. Hindman said, “Who’s your sister?  What does she do?  Where does she live?”

Iva replied, “She’s Lucile Romine, a farmer’s wife and lives in Palco, Kansas.”

Mrs. Hindman then said, “No, you have to have the accompanist from this school.”

Iva wouldn’t budge.  Finally, Mrs. Hindman said, “Okay, but she has to come out a month before on trial.”

I walked into this huge studio with a baby in my arms, no less. I propped my babe up in the big overstuffed chair and sat down to the largest and most beautiful Steinway Grand piano I had ever seen. I ran a scale. It had a perfect touch. Mrs. Hindman said, “Le Plea” which is “the rain” in French. Iva winked at me. The introduction represented light rain on a window sill. Mrs. Hindman was enchanted. She stopped me after the intro. A complete change of atmosphere occurred. Iva had a wonderful lesson. I was accepted and during that hour and a half my babe hadn’t made a sound.

Iva won a full scholarship to go to Europe to continue her studies to become a Concert Artist.  Love for her family was instrumental in her decision to decline and continue her career in the teaching field.

Besides vocal, Iva was also an accomplished pianist and a cellist. She played cello in the Osborne High School Orchestra and also in the KU Orchestra.

My unique sister had a wit that would turn everyone inside out. One example was when we all were first married. One time Iva and Emory, our brother Pete and his wife Gladys, and my husband Richard and I all went pheasant hunting. It was the girls’ job to be the dogs and scare up the pheasants. So, off we went into this thicket patch. It was so thick, tall, and tangled we could hardly move. All of a sudden, Iva stopped in her tracks and remarked, “Huh!  I’ve graduated!  I’m not a dog anymore.  I’m a BULLDOZER!”

Many summers she helped us on the farm – working cattle, fixing fence, gathering bales, driving tractors, and stacking hay. Once my husband Richard Romine got the alfalfa bales about six inches longer which made them heavy as lead. Iva devised a plan. We’d stack six bales and then we would have the Seventh Day of Rest.

Every summer Iva worked in the office of the “House of Prayer for All People” in Denver, Colorado.  She studied under an internationally known evangelist, Mr. William L. Blessing. Iva was a devoted student of Theology. She read the Bible through five times – once aloud, and was on her sixth time at the time of her death.

Iva was soloist at many of the large churches in Denver.  However, she would never accept pay.  There was no way she would accept money to use the talent God gave her in His place of worship.

Even at the age of 45, Iva’s ball playing career was not over.  The towns of Palco and Damar in Kansas had a women’s team.  Tournament time came.  They heard that Iva and I had once been a battery so asked us to play with them.  Iva and I went to a practice.  They put us in.  Iva lobbed several practice pitches in and then, “Batter Up!”  The manager of the team got up to bat.  She was a cute little vixen.  She stepped up to the plate, waved her bat in the air and wiggled her bottom as she took her stance. Iva fired one in and it hit my glove before she saw it. She dropped her bat and yelled, “NOW, NONE OF THAT!”  The spectators roared . . . .  We went to the Tournament in Hill City, Kansas the next night. They wouldn’t put us in. The score was 15-2. At the bottom of the 3rd inning, their husbands made them put us in. The crowd came alive. 3 up, 3 down. Iva held them. Our team ran in 11 scores but lost 13-15. We hung up our gloves.

Throughout her forty-five year teaching career, Iva taught both instrumental and vocal music in grades first through twelfth in Osborne, Luray, Waldo, Alton, Hill City, and Stockton, Kansas. In Waldo, she also taught English and Commerce. She then moved back to the state of Colorado where she taught junior high vocal music in the Broadmoor District in Colorado Springs, Colorado for four years. She returned to Kansas, teaching grades kindergarten through sixth her last twenty-nine years at McDermott and South Lawn schools in Liberal, Kansas, where she retired from teaching education. She was a life member of Delta Kappa Gamma Teachers Fraternity and held multiple offices.

During Iva’s forty-five years of teaching she only used her accumulated sick leave once. She was operated on for cancer and had cobalt treatments in Wichita. Although she was gone four months, her students never forgot her. She received letters every week from whole classes and many individuals. She only had three months sick leave accumulated. The faculty went together and each donated part of their sick leave to Iva to cover the fourth month. She was never docked a penny on her salary for this absence.

Iva kept our family together by her faithful correspondence to each and every one of us. We all looked forward to her weekly letters. Many times there was a check of love included that came at the most opportune times. She had such a Big Heart. Her gifts of love included nieces and nephews and even extended to their families. It didn’t make any difference as to what was needed – her time, her car, or a helping hand – she was always there.

Iva’s happiness was the giving of herself, whether it was concerting at Red Rocks in Colorado, soloing in various churches for the Glory of God, singing in our family choir or in the trio with her sisters, playing cello in the high school and college orchestras, playing piano, participating in sports, baby sitting, teaching, playing dominoes with her grandfather or talking with an elderly friend, spending prime time with her nephews, going fishing with her father or just doing things with and for both her Mom and Dad.  She was the solid, quiet one – unique in every way.

It gives me great honor to officially induct Iva Wirth into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

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Iva pitching while at the University of Kansas.
Iva Wirth in later years.