Francis Albert Schmidt – 2014 Inductee

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

 

Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.
Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.
Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis.  Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis. Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University.  Courtesy Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University. Courtesy Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.

 

Schmidt Francis Albert tombstone
The grave of Francis Schmidt in Arkansas City, Kansas.

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

Lila Marie Leaver – 2014 Inductee

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

 

 

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

 Lila Leaver Thinks Teaching is the Greatest Profession

By Dave Magruder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Teacher Medal to Lila Leaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*  *  *  *  *

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

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

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

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

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

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*  *  *  *  *

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

 

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

 My Other Mother

By John Henshall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

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

Arlene Louise Sollenberger – 2013 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Imri Ray Zumwalt – 2007 Inductee

Imri Ray Zumwalt was born in a sod farmhouse in Corinth Township.  He attended schools in Osborne and Decatur Counties and in 1897 Imri graduated from Clyde, Kansas, High School.  In 1906 he graduated with honors from Washburn College.  While in college Imri was ordained a minister in the Christian Church, serving charges in Arizona and later in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  Following graduation he worked as a news reporter and high school principal.

Following graduation Imri worked for the Topeka Daily Herald and then published the Herington Sun for a year. He then served a year as principal of Herington High School before buying the Bonner Springs Chieftain newspaper in 1909, which he operated for the rest of his life.  In 1916 Imri published a slim, 39-page book of poetry entitled “The Call of the Open Fields.”

The poem “A Thanksgiving Prayer”, from Page 25 of “The Call of the Open Fields.”

In 1919 Imri served as Kansas Assistant State Fire Marshal.  His major public office came that same year when he was appointed Kansas State Printer, the first of three Osborne County citizens to hold that public office in the 20th Century.  In 1920 Imri was elected to a full four-year term as State Printer, and that same year he was named to Who’s Who in America.

At the time of the 1920 general election Imri fell ill and never recovered his health.  He died on May 10, 1921.  Imri’s funeral in Bonner Springs, Kansas is still the largest such event ever held in that city’s history.

The editor of the Osborne County Farmer, Bert Walker, was then appointed by the governor to succeed Imri Zumwalt as Kansas State Printer.  Walker was previously named to the Osborne County Hall of Fame in 1996.

 

The simple headstone for Imri Zumwalt in the Bonner Springs Cemetery at Bonner Springs, Wyandotte County, Kansas.

 

Bartley Francis Yost – 1996 Inductee

Career diplomats are a scarce commodity in the annals of Osborne County.  Bartley Francis Yost, a local farmer and teacher born in Switzerland, entered government service in 1909 and spent the next quarter of a century representing the United States around the world.  Bartley was born September 20, 1877, in the Swiss town of Seewiss.  He lived there with his parents, George and Elizabeth (Fluetsch) Yost, until 1887, when the family emigrated to America.  They settled on a farm three miles west of Downs in Ross Township.

Young Bartley’s education, begun in Switzerland, continued at the rural Ise School, District Number 37.  Incidents from his adolescent years are immortalized in the 1936 John Ise book Sod and Stubble. Upon graduation he worked on the family farm, and then from in October 1896 he embarked on a teaching career at the one-room Greenwood School while tending to his own farm as well.  He attended Downs High School for a year in 1898 and then studied for two semesters at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas.

He then returned to teaching at several rural one-room schools in Osborne County:  Scott School in Delhi Township; Prizer School near Alton; Bethany Center School in Bethany Township; and at Rose Valley in Ross Township.  He then took a year off with a trip to California and Washington before returning in 1906, when he became co-publisher of the Osborne County News.  That same year he was elected to the first of two terms as Osborne County Clerk of the District Court.  On October 7, 1908, he married Irma Blau at Kirkland, Washington.  The couple had two children, Robert and Bartley, Jr.

While serving as Clerk of the District Court Bartley was visited by a government representative, who was so impressed with the young man’s abilities (Bartley had mastered five languages) that he suggested Yost fill out an application for the U.S. Consular Service, that branch of government which serves the needs of American citizens either living in or visiting a foreign country.  He was accepted and entered the consular service in 1909.

Yost’s consular work kept him traveling abroad from 1909 to 1935.  He served as deputy consul at Paris, France, and Almeria, Spain, and as vice consul at Genoa, Italy.  As chief consul he oversaw consulates in Santa Rosalia, Gnaymas, and Torrean, Mexico; at Sault Ste. Marie, Canada; at Nogales, Mexico; and finally at Cologne, Germany, where he was one of the last senior diplomats to deal with Adolph Hitler’s Nazi government before the United States broke off diplomatic relations.  After 1935 Bartley retired from the service and settled into quiet retirement in California.  In 1933 he had been given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society, and a further honor was bestowed upon him when he was named to Who’s Who in America.  In 1955 he published his autobiography, Memoirs of a Consul.

Irma Yost passed away in 1952.  Bartley married his second wife, Elfrieda, in July 1953.  Their happiness was short-lived, however, as Bartley died September 8, 1963, in California of a heart attack.  He was laid to rest beside his first wife in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

The cover for the book “Memoirs of a Consul,” by Bartley Francis Yost.

*  *  *  *  *

(Excerpts from Bartley’s book “Memoirs of a Consul”)

On his family leaving home of Seewis, Switzerland, 1887:

Uncle Nicloaus lost no time in sowing propaganda among such people as desired to leave. He also urged Father to dispose of his extensive holdings and to take his family to the New World, where there were opportunities unbounded especially for us children. He also insisted that Grandfather accompany him to Kansas and make his home with him (Nicolaus).

I know that Father and Mother deliberated long and seriously over this momentous question, for it was no small undertaking with a large family. The interminable railway journeys and the long ocean voyage had to be faced. There was also the matter of disposing of the properties. But the gravest question of all was Mothers condition. She was expecting to give birth to another child in January 1887, and course, she would hardly be able to travel for several weeks. The momentous decision was finally made. We were to immigrate to America. And with us were several other families and young men of the village. There were protests and regrets on the part of relatives and friends, and even the city authorities, at the loss of such good and useful families. The thought of our departure filled our minds with emotion and with speculation as to what we should see and experience in our new home. It was the greatest event that ever happened in our lives.

With little delay Father disposed of his properties, and set March 17, 1887, as the day of our departure. It was a red-letter day in our lives. We were driven in horse carriages down the mountainside to the station at Landquart, where we boarded the train. The great journey and adventure had begun.

For the first few hours we swept through beautiful Swiss scenery along the banks of the historic River Rhine, with the snow-capped mountains always in full view. Sometime during the night we left Swiss territory, arriving at Strasburg, early in the morning. I can still remember Mr. John Monstien calling attention to the great German fortifications there, known as the Schanz. From Antwerp where our steamer, the Westernland, was awaiting us. I shall make the description of this our first ocean voyage as short as possible, for it is not a pleasant subject. Our ship was an old tub, about ready for the scrap heap; it was dirty and the service in our class left much to be desired. Being early in the year, we encountered much bad weather, which caused the old ship to toss like an empty eggshell. Nearly everybody was seasick. The food was plentiful, but it did not appeal to us. Poor mother, with her baby boy, two months old, suffered most of all. She was not only sea sick, but also homesick throughout the voyage and unable to come up on dick to get some fresh air. After three weeks of this torture we finally arrived at the Fort of New York.

Although this was decidedly before the days of skyscrapers, yet the skyline of New York from an approaching vessel was a fascinating study even then. Some acquaintances came to meet us at Castle Garden, which was then the immigration station now replaced by Ellis Island, to meet us and to welcome us to the Land of Opportunity. The usual immigration formalities over, we were ferried across the Hudson River to Jersey City to entrain for the Far West. I should not fail to mention here that before leaving New York, father took us for a walk across the world famous Brooklyn Bridge, Mr. Roebling’s dream come true [boarded a train headed west and] I think of this the more I realize what great courage and pioneering spirit it required to carry through this adventure. After a week or so on the slow-moving immigrant train, we arrived toward to end of April at Downs, Kansas, our destination, a wide-open prairie, with few inhabitants, few building, and few roads.

Schooling in Switzerland:

As to the place of my birth, I may be permitted to repeat a part of the introductory sketch to my “Memoirs of A Consul,” that I first saw the light of day in that picturesque village of Seewis, nestled away up in the mountains of Switzerland, where the rest of the Yost children were born. That was on September 20, 1877. Obviously, I would rather have been born in the good old U.S.A., but this was a matter beyond my control, and I am glad that my place of birth was Seewis, and not China or Africa. Even as a baby I made my parents much work and worry, and often showed my temper and willfulness. My father often told me that I was the lustiest howler in the whole bunch, and that nigh after night he had to rock my cradle, even in his sleep, while I would continue to howl.

When I had reached the proper age I was bundled off to school in the Schloss, my first teacher being Prof Yenni. He always kept a fine selection of witches on top of the brick heater, and I remember that at times he would try them out on me. The first year my desk was in the far corner of the room. To the delight of my schoolmates, when the teacher’s back was turned, I would stand up in the corner and make faces. But I did it once too often, and got caught. You may guess the rest, keeping in mind these witches on the heater. I learned to write laboriously on the grooved lines of my slate, to read and to figure. I was a chubby lad, with a bountiful crop of freckles, which I inherited from my mother. To this day they cling to me closer than a brother. About the first thing that I can remember of my “kidhood” was that one day while running down the steep hilt in front of our house, I fell and bumped my head against a sharp corner stone of the house steps, cracking my skull just over my left eye. The scar is quite visible and becomes more so as advancing age thins my locks.

I was no shirker when it came to work. I recall having a lariat and hay cap all my own to carry hay from the meadows into the barn. No doubt, I also tried yodeling, probably in the manner of a young rooster trying to crow. I also recall that once while helping my Uncle Henry to thresh they tried to make me sit up to the dinner table with the real men, but I refused, and heaven and earth could not move me. I even hid under the table until they fished me out.

But to hasten on, long before I had become rooted to the mountain slopes of Grison I was taken with the rest of the flock to the Promised Land Beyond the Seas; and I do not know how to thank Father and Mother enough for this momentous decision. I-lad it not been for this I would today probably be following in the footsteps of my ancestors, climbing goatlike up and down the mountains, keeping a few cows, haying on those hanging meadows where a misstep sends a man to eternity, carrying manure to fertilize the arid, rock slopes, bringing up a numerous family, and finally without having built me “more stately mansions, “have joined my fathers in the silent city of the dead, in the little churchyard overlooking the Landquart.

The long trip to America was full of thrills for me. I was just reaching the impressionable age when everything one sees registers in the mind. I remember distinctly the conditions under which we lived on the old Weternland for three weeks in coming from Antwerp to New York. I can still see my poor mother, seasick, taking care of baby John, eight weeks old. Our arrival at New York was for me like entering a fairyland. We walked the streets in the region of Castle Garden, which was formerly the immigration station, now replaced by Ellis Island. Castle Garden is now the Battery. We walked across the famous Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling’s great monument.

Once we had complied with the immigration regulations, and they were light then as compared with today, we were loaded into special immigrant cars at Hoboken, and the long tiresome journey to Kansas began. It was probably a week before we arrived at Downs.

Like any child of my age, I was not long in adapting myself to the new conditions and surroundings, and in learning the language. I reveled in everything that I saw, for everything was new, different, thrilling, full of interest. In the fall of 1887 I was sent to school in the little schoolhouse located on the Ise farm, and known as District 37. Because of my unfamiliarity with the language I was put into classes with primary kiddies younger than I. Miss Anne Carson was my first teacher, a kind, patient, sympathetic and competent teacher. The Carson family lived just across the river from our home. The Schoolmates and play fellows that I now recall most vividly were Albert Heiser, Clark Boomer, Frank Boomer, Ed, Charley and Walter Ise, Nate Winters, Nathan, Eddie and Wits Jones, Marian and Ed Worley, Elmer Richardson, Floyd Wagner, Dave McCormick, and others whose names have slipped my mind. The school term in those early days was for only six months. This meant long summer vacations, but they were not all play. On the contrary, we had to work hard most of the time, as soon as we were able to drive a team, or to handle farm tools or machinery.

Schooling in District #37, Ise School:

The little white schoolhouse where I received my rudimentary education would comfortable hold about twenty pupils, although I have seen as many as forty packed into it. There were a number of big families in the district in those days. There were fourteen children in the Jones family, of whom as many as eight were in school at one time; of the eleven Ise children there were as many as seven in school at a time; of the eight Yost children there were sometimes four of r five in school. I usually sat with Albert Heiser. During one of two winters I sat with Charley Ise. Charley had a quick mind and could learn his lessons in half the time that I could. This left him too much time for play and mischief He was daily getting into all kinds of deviltry, and was punished repeatedly in the old-fashioned way, with green sticks or rubber hose. Sometimes he would come prepared for it, by putting on about three shirts and three pairs of pants, or by sticking shingles into the seat of his pants. One evening he was ordered to remain in after school. This happened quite frequently. But, on this occasion, in a hurried conference be between us it was agreed that while the rest of the school was marching out, Charley was to jump out of the back window where I was to meet him with his wraps. Everything passed off according to progamme, and before the teacher realized our design, Charley was cutting across the pasture on his way home. Miss Anne Jones, the teacher, then locked the school house door and followed Charley across the pasture to his home. AS to the concrete results of the conference between Miss Jones and Mr. Ise, I an unable to say.

Once the teacher ordered Charley and me to get some switches from the nearby hedge fence; with which to punished us for some misconduct. We cut the switches full of notches, so that at the first blow the teacher struck, the switches fell all to pieces. One day just before recitation time Charley took off my shoes, of course I was not exactly asleep when he did it. When our class was called for an explanation. Charley then spoke up with’ “I throwed Yost’s shoes out the window.” The teacher then ordered him to go out after them, and the recitation went on. We were both kept in after school that night for the usual intimate talk.

My great joy was to be able to sit beside Minnie (Doll) Ise during the recitation periods. I hardly think that she experienced the same thrill.

First Year As A Schoolteacher:

That first term of school put me to the test. With more preparation than what the country school afforded, together with a month’s normal training, I struggled through my pedagogical duties. Some of my pupils were older than I, and probably knew almost as much. The teacher preceding me had had trouble over a triangular love affair, of which she was on e angle. I recall that we were nearly frozen out that winter. Gumbo Christ, the district treasurer, was delegated to provide dry wood for our stove, but he only began cutting the wood when school began, and we therefore had green wood during most of the winter, wholly in keeping with the name of our school. Greenwood. Once a month I would call at the Christ home, a combination of shack, stable and granary under one roof, to get my salary voucher for $25. He was a jovial and interesting man, an old bachelor. Usually he had a pie tin on the stove, filled with cuds of chewing tobacco, which he would dry and smoke in his pipe. About the year 1897 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the office of Probate Judge of Osborne County. But more about our green wood which merely sizzled and would not burn. The stove was also too small for the new, spacious schoolroom. It was so cold that I had to let the children keep on their wraps during school hours.

My prize pupil was Felix Gygax who later attended the Downs High School from which he graduated. After teaching school for two years he was admitted to the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, on competitive examination, and graduated in 1906, in time to take that memorable cruise around the world of our navy, under the administration of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. His advancement in the navy has been consistent and rapid, his outstanding achievements many. Today he holds the rank of commander in the navy.

At a joint entertainment given in my school house by my pupils and those of the Columbia district, a serious fire broke out in the hall way, due to some one knocking over a coal oil lamp on the Felix was burning cork to blacken his face, preparatory to taking his part in “Jumbo Jum,” a Negro play. For a time consternation prevailed among the large number of people present. Everywhere I could see people breaking the windows and jumping through them for safety. There was screaming and shouting. I tried to calm the excitement, but with little effect. As the fire was in the hallway, it shut off escape. We finally got the fire under control and went on with the play, but the interest had been lost. Just fifteen years later, while I was home from Paris on a vacation and to attend to business in court, I was called upon one night for an address at an entertainment in the Rose Valley church; and strange as this coincident my seem, while they were giving the same play, “Jumbo Jum,” just before I was scheduled to speak, a fire broke out in the hallway. Crowd behavior is apparently the same under similar circumstances. People shouted and screamed, fought each other, broke the windows, and jumped through them for safety. We soon got the fire under control, and went on with the entertainment. It was a strange coincident, to say the least.

Being Elected Osborne County Clerk of the District Court:

In the spring of 1906, the political bee began to buzz in my bonnet; I aspired to the office of Clerk of the District Court of Osborne County, and made and active campaign. My opponents were Bev Ayers, the incumbent of the office, and Adolph Brown, a lawyer from Alton. The Republican nominating convention, the last one on record, was held in the old Cunningham hail at Osborne in July 1906. Below is given an account of the convention by the Osborne County Farmer, July, 1928:

“The last Republican convention held for the purpose of nominating candidates for county offices was held in the old auditorium in Osborne in the summer of 1906, nearly 21 years ago. John Ford, now of Plainville, but at that time editor of the Alton Empire, was chairman, and Chas. E. Mann, then editor of the Downs New, secretary. The fight between the “Progressives and the “Standpatters” was just beginning to warm up, although practically all Republicans favored the nomination of Taft for President, as he was the choice of Roosevelt. According to the old custom, a few of the leaders met in Osborne the night before the convention selected the organization and tentatively agreed upon the county ticket. It was composed of J.B. Taylor for representative; John Doane for county clerk; L.F. Storer for treasurer; J.M. Smith for sheriff, A.P. Brown for Clerk of Court. There was no opposition to V.K.N. Groesbeck, Probate Judge; D.H. Lockridge, register of deeds; and N.C. Else, county attorney. The last two were serving their first terms, and with Groesbeck were endorsed by both factions. When the convention met it was known that there was strong opposition to the slate prepared the night before, and the fight grew warm as the afternoon session opened up. The opposition to the slate had not been able to get together on a candidate for representative, and was not real sure of their strength anyway. When nominations were in order, J.B. Taylor was placed in nomination. There was no other name mentioned, so the nomination was made by acclamation. This gave the impression that the opposition had given up its fight, but leaders were soon to know different, for when the next name was placed before the convention the fight was on. John Doane and George F. Schultz were placed in nomination for county clerk. The latter was sponsored by the Progressives of Boss Busters, as they were then known.  The ballot resulted in the nomination of Schultz by a few votes. The atmosphere was now clear. The Boss Busters were now sure of themselves and they proceeded with reckless abandonment to nominate the entire remaining members the ticket, which was their own slate. They nominated Geo. H. Rogers for county treasurer; E.L.Curl for Sheriff, and Bartley F. Yost for Clerk of the Court. Groesbeck, Lockridge and Else were nominated by acclamation. The Boss Busters were jubilant and quite cocky after the convention was over, and they kicked themselves because they had not also picked a candidate for representative.

However, after the convention was over the factional trouble settled right down and everybody went to work for the ticket, and it was elected in its entirety. Two of the county officers elected on that ticket resigned without filling out their terms of office; George F. Schultz resigned to return to his business at Natoma, and John Doane filled out his unexpired term, Bartley F. Yost, Clerk of Court, Federal Government, in which he is still engaged, being now United States Consul at Sault St. Marie, Canada. He was succeeded by the late John A. Fouts.”

I was then new in politics and not aware of the trickeries practiced. When the first ballot for Clerk of the Court was announced, I had only about 40 votes, Ayers 25, and Brown 48. My heart sank within me. Some of my supporters seeing my distress, came to me, patted me on the shoulders and whispered into my ears not to worry, that the second ballot would show a different result; that Ayers was releasing his delegates and had instructed them to vote for me; also that a number of delegates had cast only complimentary votes for Brown and would come to me on the second ballot. All this came true and I was nominated with a rousing majority, It was a great day for me, I had announced from Bethany Township where I had lived for two years, but L.F.Storer, who aspired to the office of county treasurer, also from Bethany, fought me hard and claimed that I belonged to Ross Township. As a matter of fact, since April 11 had not actually lived in Bethany but all my interests were still there. Storer saw that it meant either him or me. He lost. He was elected to the office four years later.

That fall, after a strenuous campaign, I was elected by a good majority. After the election I made my home with sister Burga, 2 miles west of Osborne, Before taking up my office in January, I husked most of Ed Zimmerman’s corn crop. I began my first term on the first Monday in January 1907, in the old tumbledown courthouse. My term was for two years. During the summer of 1908 I announced my candidacy for a second term under the new primary election law which had been enacted by the Stubs administration, and which had just gone into effect.

How He Entered the Consular Service:

Senator Charles Curtis, while looking after his political fences in Osborne County, stepped into my office in the court house one day, and after a pleasant chat, he remarked to me; “Yost, do you speak any other language than English?” I replied that I also spoke German. He continued: “Well, this is very interesting; have you ever thought of trying for the United States consular service? If you are interested I am in position to assure you a designation for the next consular examinations to be held in the City of Washington this fall. Let me know definitely before I leave town” The Senator’s momentous proposition put me to thinking. It was no easy matter to break all the ties that bound me to the homeland and to launch out into uncharted waters. I had a county office; I was half owner of the Osborne County News; I owned a good farm; surely I could make a fair living without wandering off into foreign lands, away from Kith and kin. It was a momentous problem for me, and I had but little time for reflection. At noon I went home to confer with sister Burga. We arrived at a decision that such a step might be for my best interests. The dye was cast. That afternoon I called on the Senator at his hotel and told him of my decision. He looked me over with those keen, eagle-like eyes of his, slapped me on the shoulders and said “Bully for you, Yost; I shall write to President Roosevelt tonight and ask him to designate you for the next consular examinations”

Three weeks later I received a formal and courteous communication from the Department of State in Washington, advising me that I had been designated for the examinations to be held in November. I also received a number of pamphlets and suggestions with regard to the textbooks I should study. There were no library facilities then in the little town of Osborne, and I was unable to find the books I needed, and to send for them meant considerable loss of time. I borrowed and bought books whereever I could, and for the next two months I studied every spare moment, but I realized that it was an up-hill undertaking, and that there was but little chance of my passing the difficult test. At the suggestion of Mr. Fred Slater, a Topeka attorney, who had also been designated, being a distant relative of the Senator by marriage, we went to Washington together, three weeks before the examinations. There we had the advantage of the Library of Congress, the State Department Library and other sources of information

The examinations were given in the old Pension Building. Sam Reat looked the questions over, and suddenly developed some sort of a bowel complaint. The 36 men present struggled like Trojans over questions in international law, maritime law, commercial law, history of the world political science, commercial and industrial resources, accounting, bookkeeping, foreign languages, etc. etc. The third day at the Department of State we had to run the gauntlet of a scrutinizing commission of State Department officials and Civil Service Commission officials, who sized us up for our general appearance, personality, general address, manners, expression of thought, knowledge of current events, etc. I was ushered in with Fred Slater and a gentleman from Mankato, Kansas. “Please discuss the Balkan situation” was the question fired at the first man. He flunked, and it was passed on to Fred, and later to me. I was also called upon to discuss the Reclamation Policy of the United States Government. Fred Slater had failed in the previous examinations and was allowed to take it with me in November. In these examinations he failed also; so did the man from Mankato. In fact, out of 36 applicants, only 9 passed. I happened to be one of them, The first intimation I had of it was an article appearing in the New York World, shown me by Bert Lockridge, about three weeks after I had returned home.

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List of Consular Service through 1927 (retired in 1935):

It may be of interest to make a list of the several government commissions that I have been granted in connection with appointments and promotions in the consular service during the past twenty years; they are as follows:

1.         June 24, 1908, Commission as Consular Assistant signed by President Theodore Roosevelt and Alvey A. Ade, Acting Secretary of State.

2.         April 20, 1909, Commission as Deputy Consul General at Paris, signed by Huntington Wilson, Acting Secretary of State.

3.         March 3, 1913; commission as Consular Agent at Almeria, Spain, signed by Philander C. Know, Secretary of State.

4.         August 21, 1917, commission as Vice Consul at Genoa, Italy, signed by President W. Wilson.

5.         June 15, 1918, Commission as Vice Consul at Santa Rosalia, Lower California, signed by Robert Lansing, Secretary of State. (On my way there I was appointed a full Consul; my work at S.R. was that of a Lookout Officer.)

6.         July 6, 1918, commission as Consul Class Eight, Signed by President Wilson and Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

7.         November 22, 1918, Commission as Consul at Guaymas, Mexico, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

8.         September 5, 1919, commission as Consul Class Seven, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Acting Secretary of State Win, Phillips.

9.         October 15,1919, Exequator to act as consul at Guaymas, Mexico, signed by President V. Carranza of Mexico.

10. June 4, 1920, Commission as consul Class Six, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.

11. December 17, 1923, Commission as Consul Class Six at Torreon, Mexico, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. F. Hughes.

12. July 1, 1924, Commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Seven, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. E. Hughes.

13. Dec. 20, 1924, commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Seven, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. F. Hughes. (After confirmation by U.S. Senate).

14. June 18, 1924, Exequator, to act as consul at Torreon, Mexico, signed by President Alvaro Obregon, of Mexico.

15. October 13, 1926, commission as consul at Sault Ste. Marie, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg.

16. January 3, 1927, Exequator, authorizing Bartley F. Yost to act as Consul at Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, signed by King George V. of Great Britain and by Mackenzie King, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Canada.

17. December 7, 1927, Commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Six, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg (After confirmation by U.S. Senate.)

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.