Todd Hafner was a dual-sport standout at Bluffton, earning the A.C. Burkey Award as the top senior male athlete in 1984. Hafner lettered in both tennis and football all four years. He was a 1983 NAIA District 22 All-American and a 1982 and 1983 District 22 1st Team defensive lineman. In 1983, Hafner was named the NAIA player of the week three times and was named the football team’s MVP. He finished the football program with a four-year tackle total of 426 stops.
Hafner graduated in 1984 with a degree in biology. He was the owner and operator of Hafner’s Hardwood Connection. Hafner shared his love of the game with children in the Toledo area where he coached cadet football for eight years. His team went undefeated for three seasons and was named city league champions for three seasons. In 1992, he was awarded the Catholic Youth Organization Outstanding Adult Contributor Award.
Hafner passed away at the age of 49 in 2012. He is survived by his wife, Lorie, and children, Lukas, Audrie and Madilyn.
Phil Krouskop played football and baseball at Bluffton in the 1960s, but he is best known as Coach K due to his nearly four-decade coaching career at Perry High School. Krouskop compiled a record of 503-336 as head baseball coach of the Perry Commodores from 1968 to 2007.
During his 39 years of coaching high school baseball, he racked up six league titles, 24 sectional titles, seven district titles, four regional final berths, one regional championship and a state appearance in 1998. In 2011, Krouskop was inducted into the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. The Perry High School baseball field was named in his honor in 2012.
Krouskop graduated from Bluffton in 1965 and earned degrees in social work and psychology. He was a member of the 1962 baseball and football teams that were previously inducted into the Bluffton Athletics Hall of Fame.
Krouskop stays active in retirement by volunteering. He reads to local youth at the Mizpah Community Center in Lima, tutors at Perry schools and is a volunteer custodian at his church.
He was the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) on offense in 2000, when he was named first-team all-conference for the third straight year.
When he was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame, the Wayne Trace High School graduate holds the school career record for carries (853); is third in rushing yardage (4,291 yards, which also included 1,100-plus-yard seasons in 1998 and ‘99), points scored (286) and touchdowns (47); and fifth in pass receptions (105). He ran for at least 200 yards in four games in his career, and twice scored four touchdowns in one game.
Goings holds a Bluffton bachelor’s degree in recreation management and a master’s degree in professional counseling from Liberty University. A Licensed Professional Counselor in Ohio, he works as a social service specialist and school counselor for Lima City Schools. He is also running backs coach for the Lima Senior High School football team.
Bill Lape ’62 was a first-team, all-Mid-Ohio League (MOL) halfback in 1960 and 1961, and remains in the top 10 in several Bluffton statistical categories for a game, a season and a career. A four-year starter and letter winner, from 1958-61, he played on three league-champion teams and was co-captain of the 1961 team. In 1962, he was the first recipient of the A.C. Burcky Award, presented annually to Bluffton’s top senior male athlete.
The West Chester, Ohio, resident led the MOL in scoring as a sophomore—when he received all-league honorable mention—a junior and a senior. He is tied for second on Bluffton’s single-game scoring list, with 24 points on four touchdowns against Defiance in 1961, and stands fifth on the career scoring list (236 points); sixth in career touchdowns (37); and 10th in single-season scoring (82 points in 1960). His rankings on career rushing lists include fourth in yards per carry, with a six-yard average, and ninth in career yardage, with 2,654 yards. *
Also a four-year letterman in track and president of Varsity B as a senior, Lape earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. He then played two years for the Cleveland Bulldogs of the former United Football League and taught middle school science for 11 years in Parma Heights, Ohio, and Cincinnati. In addition, he was head football and assistant basketball coach at Greenbriar Middle School in Parma Heights, and an assistant varsity football coach at his alma mater, Greenhills (now Winton Woods) High School, Cincinnati.
The father of two later worked for five years at Pat Matson’s Nautilus Fitness Centers in Cincinnati, and retired in 2006 after 26 years in sales manager and general manager positions in the automobile business. Also in Cincinnati, he has been involved with the Cincinnati Gospel Mission, Neediest Kids of All and Matthew 25 Ministries.
* school records as of 2014
In his early years at Bluffton “Prof. Berky” coached a number of sports including, in 1921-22, football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball. He was instrumental in developing Bluffton’s first athletic facilities including the 1916 fundraising campaign to construct “the Barn,” home to basketball and campus events.
In athletics, Berky is best known for coaching men’s tennis for more than three decades and faithfully maintaining the clay courts that were a campus landmark for many years. His 45 year tenure included substantial contributions to athletics and science as indicated by the naming of Berky Science Hall.
After several seasons near the bottom of the Hoosier-Buckeye Conference, the 1985 Beavers, led by seventh-year head coach Carlin Carpenter, exploded onto the NAIA small college football scene with an 8-1 record and ended the season ranked 11th in the nation. The 1985 squad was the kick-start to a five-year span where Bluffton teams notched a 44-13 record and took two trips to the NAIA national playoffs and is now the first team from that era to be inducted into the Bluffton Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 1985 team broke or tied 14 season records and nine single game records. Many of those records were later broken by teams in that five year reign, but it’s the ’85 squad’s 34.9 point per game output is still the highest in school history and its 14.6 average point difference over its opponents is still fourth best all-time.
HBC and NAIA all-district awards went to offensive stars Carl Sonneberger (g), Ed Coleman (wr), Rich Gansheimer (wr), and Hugo Sandberg (k), while defensive standouts picking up the same awards were Derek Allen (dt), Bruce Gardner (lb) and Dave Hucke (db). Greg Gilcrease (rb) and John Harding (de) also picked up HBC honors while Carlin Carpenter was named the HBC coach of the year and the NAIA district 22 co-coach of the year. Quarterback Cliff Hemmert along with Coleman and Sandberg all set individual Bluffton records.
Without question one of the most talented and successful team to ever play football at Bluffton, the 1988 squad posted a perfect 9-0 regular season and finished the season 10-1 and ranked 13th in the country.
The 1988 season capped off a 32-7 four-year overall record for the 14 members of the senior class who guided the Beavers to their first ever post-season appearance as juniors in 1987 before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Geneva College. Records fell in almost every game in 1988 as Bluffton established 75 team and individual records, many of which still stand today.
The regular season included many memorable victories, beginning with a 30-6 season-opening victory over Tiffin, which was the 200th victory in the history of Bluffton football. Mid-season blowouts included a 62-20 win at Manchester in which the Beavers scored on nine of 10 possessions in the game, a 34-0 shutout of Waynesburg 34-0 the next week and finally a 63-6 homecoming win over Anderson which set the school scoring record. The following week, Bluffton ended a seven-game winless streak at Hanover with a 40-21 win, then ended the season with a forfeit win over Wilmington and a 17-7 decision at Defiance.
Bluffton entered the playoffs at 10-0 Cumberland College and walked away with a historic 30-14 win. Eventual NAIA Division II national champion Westminster College ended Bluffton’s season the following week, however, with a 40-7 win over the Beavers.
The 1988 squad outscored its opponents by an average 17.5 points per game (third best all time), and held school records for most wins in a season (10), most road wins (5), most points scored (375), most plays (799), most yards (4,562), most touchdowns (50), most kicking points (65), most conversion points (44), most rushing plays (614) and turnover ratio (+21).
Head Coach Carlin Carpenter was named the NAIA District 22 Coach of the Year, while ten players earned first team honors, including Chris Dales (g), Andy Nowlin (wr), Darrin Gates (te), Cliff Hemmert (qb), Roger Gilanyi (rb) and Greg Gilcrease (rb) on the offensive side and Sly Hubbard (de), Todd Buschur (lb), Bruce Gardner (lb) and Jesse Williams (db) on the defensive side. Honorable mention awards were given to Jim Tabler (g), Rob Hayden (dt), Shawn Hertzfeld (db), Dave Ward (k) and Darryl Gard (rb).
Gates, Gilcrease, Gilanyi, Ward and Hubbard earned honorable mention All-America status.
James “Spike” Berry quarterbacked Bluffton’s football team to four Mid-Ohio League championships, and he earned 10 letters in three Bluffton sports—just as he had at Bluffton High School.
He went on to a successful career as head football coach at nearby Cory-Rawson High School, where his teams won 10 Blanchard Valley Conference championships and were undefeated six times.
Berry’s 1968 Hornets were designated as Class A state champions after going unbeaten and unscored upon. He was named Ohio Class A Coach of the Year, as well as Northwest District Class A Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and United Press International.
He coached in Ohio all-star games in 1969 and 1978, and was director of the Ohio-Pennsylvania high school all-star game in 1975. He also served as president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
The late Lloyd Ramseyer, who first distinguished himself at Bluffton as “Tank,” was a left tackle on Bluffton’s team which went through a whole season undefeated. The great H.W. Berky-coached team of 1921 played one game that year on Armistice Day and trimmed the University of Toledo, 14-0, on a soggy, snowy field. The Ista yearbook records “Ramseyer, at tackle, was the outstanding star of the game but the whole team and Coach Berky are to be congratulated.”
The board ruled out football in the fall of 1922. Ramseyer’s restless energies found other channels that year. The Ista records him to be an “irrepressible spirit,” “a mighty man,” “he has business ability and used it very effectively as business manager of the junior play and the Ista. Tank has lots of pep and his support back of a proposition means success. Besides he would play a bang-up game of football if he had the chance.”
His interests included being in the Vesper Choir, class officer, on the Y cabinet, president of the Illinois club and a varsity debater.
Football was restored in the fall of 1923 with a four game schedule. Ramseyer was captain and A.C. Burcky was coach. It was a building year, with one win and three losses.
In his four years at Bluffton, Elbert Dubenion, gained 4,734 yards rushing and averages 9.4 yards a carry. In 1960 he joined the Buffalo Bills for the first season of the American Football League. In his eight year career he caught 294 passes for 5,294 yards and 35 touchdowns. In one stretch, from 1961 to 1964, he caught passes in 42 consecutive games. A sportswriter wrote that he was “the most popular man on the team.”
Dubenion was a team man at Bluffton. As one who could have made any Big Ten team, Dubenion gave the Bluffton teams of those years the touch of the invincible. Opponents could not believe that these players were drawn to Bluffton without the allurements of athletic scholarships.
Many stories can be told about Dubenion. One of his many admirers tells of a neighboring team psyching itself up in the pre-game warm-ups with the chant: “get Dubenion…get Dubenion…get Dubenion…get Dubenion.” That day it was touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion…touchdown Dubenion. Four touchdowns, 270 yards, 27 yards a carry.
There is also the story of the injured Dubenion, sitting on the bench with Bluffton trailing. At halftime Dubenion asked Coach Ken Mast whether he could suit up. He went in for one play, scored the winning touchdown and returned to the bench, his day’s work done.
Andrew Burcky has been both a coach and a legend. He was not “a” coach but “the” coach. Burcky out lasted, out lived, out story-told all college coaches in the Midwest.
Out of the cornfields of Illinois, from a place called Tiskilwa, he came to Bluffton at the end of World War I to be one of the craftiest baseball players in Bluffton’s history. One reads in the Ista of how this boy wonder, “Ziggy had the opposing batter eating out of his hands” or, even in defeat, “Ziggy pitched a stellar game but his support went fishing.”
He was from 1922 on through the 20s, 30s and 40s a one man athletic department. He coached football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track, women’s basketball, taught all the physical education courses, served as trainer, was equipment manager and purchasing agent, directed the crews lining the field, handled publicity, arranged schedules, drove one of the cars loaded with players to away games and comforted the afflicted – all this without benefit of box to bench telephones, game films and assistant coaches.
There have been lean year and great years, like the 1924 basketball season with a 7-1 record in conference play and the first championship; the 1932 football season with the first championship; and one cannot forget about the great football team of 1936.
The addition to Founders Hall is named in Burcky’s honor. Coach Burcky’s wit and gift for story telling has endeared him to generations of Bluffton students. In the highly competitive world of intercollegiate sports he has embodied in his 44 years career at Bluffton the qualities of fairness, respect and integrity – every bit of him being professional.
The late Emery Sears, a 1928 graduate, lettered in football, basketball and track at Bluffton. He majored in biological sciences and was a regular on the college honor roll and vice president of his senior class.
After graduation, Sears was a high school principal and athletics coach. He received a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and was a board member for three corporations and a state realtor for Farm Bureau.
Sears was also a Sunday school teacher and superintendent in the Mennonite church.
Kenneth Mast coached four sports at Bluffton—football, basketball, track and golf—from 1951-67. While many men have coached at Bluffton, he seemed to have that special gift of establishing rapport with his players and getting them to work to their fullest potential.
Commenting on his years at Bluffton, Mast stated “Bluffton was a way of life for me and my family. Aside from the many thrilling victories and championships we shared at Bluffton, the thrill of assisting a dedicated faculty and being able to touch the lives of scores of students can never be measured.”
For a time, Mast was the winningest coach in football and track at Bluffton. He also coached its championship basketball team in 1964.
Mast, who started the Bluffton golf program, was also head golf pro at Lost Creek Country Club in Lima, Ohio, and played in many tournaments, spreading his name—and Bluffton’s—throughout Ohio.
The late Hugh Frost graduated in 1951 with a major in social science. Hugh attended Rayen High School in Youngstown, Ohio, and served in his community for many years after graduation.
As a student at Bluffton, letters were earned in basketball, football, track and baseball. While his sports activities were varied, most remember Hugh as a football standout. Pro scouts also recognized his ability with tryout offers coming from the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts.
When Frost was asked what Bluffton meant to him, he responded, “it was gratifying that emphasis was placed on implementation of religious beliefs and the development of personal relationships.” He added, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
His involvement in civic activities was wide spread, including serving as vice president of the Ohio Affirmative Action Officers Association. He served as alumni president, advisory committee and Board of Trustee member of Bluffton. In 1967 Hugh was the Republican candidate for mayor of Youngstown, Ohio.
He was recognized in 1974 by the Youngstown State University Student Government Services Award committee for outstanding service provided to the student body of the university. In 1970 Frost was honored by Bluffton with the Outstanding Alumnus Award. Frost died in 1998.
Roger Bixel is honored for his accomplishments while serving as head football coach from 1971 to 1974 at Bluffton. It was under his leadership that Bluffton won its first football championship in the Hoosier Buckeye Collegiate Conference.
While most people remember his accomplishments as a football and baseball coach, Bixel also earned 11 letters while attending Bluffton as a football, basketball and baseball player. This represents a number of letters that not many have accomplished in their college careers. He also served co-captain for two years under Coach Mast.
Reflecting on his years at Bluffton as a student and faculty member Bixel made the following statement. “I deeply appreciate the numerous opportunities and experiences provided me during my years at Bluffton. Especially the personal relationships and friendships developed among students, players, coaches and faculty. Wins, losses, individual records and performances may be forgotten, but the friendships and personal relationships are permanent memories.”
Bixel’s game of the past as a player or coach could be talked about forever. However, he is honored as a model of what Bluffton would hope every student who graduates could follow. His consistent values and treatment of athletes as individuals is a goal that many coaches strive for but only a few achieve.
William Williams was the first athlete to be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame posthumously. He earned 11 Bluffton letters—four each in baseball and basketball and three in football. He was all-conference in basketball for three years and was a basketball and baseball team captain.
Probably the greatest tribute to Williams was the fact that former Coach A.C. Burcky placed him as one of the top athletes on his list of deceased men who deserved recognition in the hall of fame.
Williams spent his post-Bluffton career in education as a teacher, coach, principal, counselor, curriculum director, athletics director and associate professor.
Charles “Choo Choo” Spencer graduated from Bluffton in 1956 with a music major and a physical education minor. He is recognized for his accomplishments in football, in which he earned All-Mid-Ohio League honors, and in track.
Coach A.C. Burcky explained that the nickname “Choo Choo” was the result of Spencer’s football exploits because it generally took two players to stop him—one to wing him and the other to bring him down. Spencer loved to return punts like a train, which also helped earn him the moniker.
His athletic talents were balanced with his musical talents. He was able to place athletics and music in a meaningful relationship during his student days and continued to do so as he taught vocal music and coached football at Dayton Dunbar High School.
James Gratz, a Bluffton High School graduate, received seven collegiate letters in football, basketball and baseball.
Gratz was a teacher and coach in many Bluffton-area high schools before becoming an associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Manchester College. He also served Manchester as athletics director, head wrestling and baseball coach, and an assistant football coach.
Gratz earned the unofficial title of “Father of the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference.” Under his leadership as president of the conference, which then consisted of only Indiana colleges, Bluffton and three other Ohio colleges were invited to consider membership in the renamed HBCC. He was the conference wrestling Coach of the Year in 1970 and, beginning in 1971, was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Executive Committee.
In 1966, 1967 and 1969, he was selected by fellow coaches to lead the Indiana Boys Club North Football All Stars.
The late Walter Diehl was a 1937 graduate with a major in social science. Diehl played football, basketball, track and baseball. He earned all-conference and honorable mention all-state honors in football, and was a member of conference championship baseball teams in 1936 and 1937.
Off the playing fields, he was Student Senate president, May Day chair and voted as Most Popular Man.
Diehl worked for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services for 35 years and also performed community service in Youngstown.
The late Vernon Conrad, known to his friends as “Vern,” graduated from Bluffton in 1928 with a major in economics. He was a four-year letterman in football and track.
Speaking about Conrad’s football accomplishments, Coach A.C. Burcky said “his reverse from the single-wing flank spot soon established him as the man to watch. Toledo and Bowling Green were in the league when Conrad played, and the games were no particular powder puff deals. Perhaps that is why he could run so fast. He had to run fast or get crushed, as he weighed about 160 pounds. Whatever anyone could do, Conrad could do better.”
In track, Conrad ran the 100- and 220-yard dashes and was the mile relay anchor man. “To balance out his day, he would high jump and broad jump,” Burcky added. “If this was not enough for one day, he would then help in other events if we were short an entry or if he could pick up a point.”
The late James Vogelgesang characterized what a man can do in athletics and what athletics can do for a man. His accomplishments in athletics, over a long and distinguished career, were as diversified as a man can achieve in his field of endeavor.
After graduating from the Lima school system, Vogelgesang attended Ohio State University and competed in both football and track. He was runner-up in the 1932 Ohio State pentathlon competition. Bluffton beckoned in 1934, and he participated in football, basketball and track under Coach A.C. Burcky. He served as captain of both the track and football teams.
His subsequent career in teaching and coaching spanned the years 1936-76. Tenure in the Lima, Cridersville and Shawnee public schools over those years included positions as varsity football, track and golf coach; faculty manager; supervisor of health and physical education; athletics director; and superintendent of schools.
Vogelgesang also had a distinguished career in officiating football, track and basketball from 1937-72. He officiated the state high school basketball finals, was a Mid-American Conference football official for 17 years and, in 1969, was president of the Ohio Association of Football Officials.
Vogelgesang died in 2000.
The late Ivan Geiger graduated from Bluffton in 1932 with a degree in biological science. As a college athlete, he earned three varsity letters in football and track and one in basketball, and received All-Northwest Ohio Conference honors in football. He was also active in swimming and water polo for three years.
He entered The Ohio State University for additional training in health and physical education, which led to a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1933. He continued his studies in the Ohio State graduate school and earned a master’s degree in health and physical education.
Geiger started his coaching and physical education career in Van Buren, Ohio, where he coached football and basketball and taught health and physical education from 1933-37. He then served as director of athletics and physical education at Van Buren until 1942.
In high school, Geiger won three letters in football and two each in basketball and track. He was captain of the football and track teams his senior year.
Edward Tice earned six Bluffton letters in baseball, football and basketball. He was captain of the baseball team and, during his senior year, was batting over .700 before ending the year just below that mark.
Tice has taught fifth and sixth grade—a career he chose over an offer to play professional baseball.
He has been a member of Deep Run Mennonite Church, Perkasie, Pa., where he has been the Sunday school superintendent and a teacher, trustee and deacon. Tice has also belonged to the National and Pennsylvania State Education associations.
“Participation in sports at Bluffton was a thoroughly enjoyable experience,” he said. “Athletes and coaches stressed cooperation, team play and growth as individuals, rather than winning. This attitude, which embodied fairness and team play, has been a part of my life since college.”
The late Roland “Rollie” Swank was captain of the 1928 football team and was chosen as right end on the Northwest Ohio Conference first team from 1926-28. He earned 12 letters overall, four each in football, baseball and basketball.
A graduate of Bluffton High School, Swank was voted best all-around boy in 1925 and was senior class president.
Until 1968, Swank served as junior high, then high school, teacher, coach and principal before becoming superintendent of Elida Schools. He also coached football, basketball and baseball.
Swank was a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Elida, where he was a trustee for three years. He was also a member of a national association of school administrators and served three and a half years in World War II, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.
Swank said “my experiences at Bluffton have taught me the value and meaning of real dedication as shown by Coach Burcky and many of my professional colleagues. The fine moral tone of campus life set many values that have stuck with me.”
The late Mack Schaffer played football and baseball at Bluffton while earning his bachelor’s degree in science education. He received his master’s degree in chemistry and education from Miami University, attended Indiana and Bowling Green universities and received a doctoral degree in school administration in 1965. He added a Ph.D. in school administration from Bowling Green State University in 1970.
Schaffer began his teaching and coaching career at Leipsic (Ohio) Junior High School, coaching both boys’ and girls’ basketball for three years. He then moved to nearby Columbus Grove, where he taught high school chemistry and physics for eight years and served as baseball coach and assistant high school principal. He went on to be a supervisor for Putnam County Schools.
Schaffer also remained active in sports as a football and basketball official in the high school, college and professional ranks. He officiated in 15 Ohio high school basketball tournaments, the last 10 in succession. He also acted as the state basketball rules interpreter for 18 years and was a member of the National Federation Basketball Rules Advisory Committee for 15 years. He served a one-year term on the state athletic board of control, in 1972, and was a member of the Northwest District High School Athletic Board.
He also served five years in the Navy during World War II and was discharged as a lieutenant commander.
“As a school man, I have held a great deal of respect for Bluffton,” Schaffer said. “The moral, religious and academic training I received from Bluffton certainly shaped my life.”
The late Dale “Rick” Reichenbach earned four letters in tennis and three in basketball at Bluffton. He was undefeated one year as the Beavers’ top tennis player.
Reichenbach, who earned a master’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1952, was an educator for 36 years, eventually becoming principal of Midview High School.
As a high school basketball coach at Montgomery Local Schools, Grand Rapids and Elyria, Reichenbach accumulated an overall record of 346-100. At Grand Rapids, he coached his team to four league championships and the Ohio Class B championship in 1951. He coached nine Elyria teams to the regional tournament and three to the state tournament, with one state title.
Reichenbach, who died in 2001, was the Associated Press Class AA Coach of the Year in 1959 and coached the North All-Star team to victory over the South All-Stars in 1961. He was inducted into the Elyria Sports and the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches halls of fame.
“At Bluffton, athletics taught me to realize the importance of team effort, leadership and dedication, and the need to live harmoniously with others in a sometimes conflicting and highly emotional setting. The ultimate satisfaction is to take these lessons and use them in solving problems of everyday life,” Reichenbach said.
The late Orville “Broadax” Augsburger earned nine letters at Bluffton while playing basketball, baseball, football and track.
He ran on a winning track relay team with Dwight Salzman, donor of the Athletics Hall of Fame. In his freshman and sophomore years, he was the top point-scorer in his events—the 100- and 220-yard dashes, plus the discus and broad jump.
Augsburger was the owner of a hardware implement dealership for 40 years until he retired in 1966. He was a member of Boynton Mennonite Church, Hopedale, Ill., where he was church treasurer for 30 years. Augsburger also belonged to the Lions and Civic clubs and was chair of the Tazewell County TB Board and a director of the Hopedale bank.
“While at Bluffton, I acquired the ability to meet people and made a large circle of friends,” Augsburger said. “As a result, I kept in touch with the general athletic program as well as with the entire program.”
The late Alva “Chet” Tetlow, co-captain of the 1938 football team, earned 13 letters at Bluffton in football, basketball, baseball and track. He never failed to win the pole vault event in his college career. He also served as president of the Varsity B Club.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in education, Tetlow turned to teaching and coaching at such schools as Meeker, Salem, West Branch, North Jackson and Sebring, where he led the 1955 football team to an undefeated tri-county championship. In addition to football, Tetlow coached basketball, baseball, track, soccer and golf, and he taught social studies, English, geography and physical education. He was inducted into the Sebring High School Hall of Fame in 1976.
Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Tetlow served as a Sunday school teacher and superintendent. He was also a chaperon for the 1978 European tour of “America’s Youth in Concert,” an international choral and orchestra association.
“Bluffton College influenced me in many, many ways,” Tetlow said. “Fine people like Coach Burcky and his wife, Dr. Ramseyer, Russell Lantz, H.W. Berky, Agnes Amstutz and M’della Moon were extremely inspirational to me. I know that I am a better person—athletically, academically, religiously, socially—for having attended Bluffton, sharing four years with so many wonderful people.”
Tetlow died in 1999.
Willis “Willie” Taylor earned seven letters in track and football at Bluffton, where he was selected All-Mid-Ohio League three years and all-Ohio one year.
A social service graduate, Taylor served his community as a social worker in such capacities as case worker, intensive caseworker, mental health consultant and team leader for Community Mental Health, where he also served as coordinator of transitional services, senior mental health planner and clinical director.
A member of the Ohio and National associations of Social Workers, Taylor has also been treasurer of his church and president of a community organization in Youngstown.
“My four years at Bluffton helped me to think and make crucial decisions for myself,” Taylor said. “It assisted me in understanding how individuals interact, personally and formally, with each other. Bluffton made me aware of the demands I had to put on myself and to think and act independently. Bluffton College offered me an opportunity to participate in pursuing a higher education and ultimately a career in social work.”
Theodore W. “Ted” Cunningham earned letters in football, basketball, tennis and baseball.
Cunningham was captain of the 1929 football team and was named to the all-league team from 1927-29. At one time, he held Bluffton records for the longest punt return for a touchdown (90 yards against Findlay in 1928) and the most passes intercepted in one game (five against Cedarville in 1926).
Cunningham was also selected for the all-league basketball team in 1927 and 1928 and, in tennis, was league singles champion in 1927, 1928 and 1930, as well as team captain in 1928 and 1930. He was president of Varsity B in 1929 and 1930.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology, Cunningham turned to teaching and coaching in Ohio public schools, where he served for 41 years until retiring in 1971.
After teaching and coaching football and basketball at Painesville junior high and high schools, Cunningham spent 24 years as a biology teacher and later assistant principal at Lakewood High School. He served as biology department chair from 1943-60. While at Lakewood, he received the Outstanding Science Teacher Award for Northeastern Ohio (1960), was selected a Fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science (1961) and was listed in “Leaders in Science” (1963). He also coached varsity baseball for two years—guiding his team to a co-championship of the Greater Cleveland League in 1938—and junior high football for 23 years, with a record of 106-40, plus 13 ties.
“When I came to Bluffton College, it nurtured and strengthened my beliefs, which have been the strength and wisdom of my life,” Cunningham said.
The late Ralph Locher graduated from Bluffton High School and was an active member of the First Mennonite Church. A football player at Bluffton College, he received his bachelor’s degree in history in 1936. He then studied law at Western Reserve Law School in Cleveland, earning his law degree in 1939. In 1945 he was named secretary of the Industrial Commission of Ohio, where he served until 1953.
A 10-year member of Bluffton’s Board of Trustees, Locher was also a representative to the Council of State Governments. He served as a member of the board of the National League of Cities and was involved with the Central YMCA of Cleveland board.
“Bluffton taught me to appreciate the meaning of a sense of values,” Locher said.
A.C. Burcky, Locher’s football coach, remembered him well. “He meant business all the time he played. He was a dandy fellow and a good, solid player.”
The 1935 Ista yearbook lists Locher as “a big, rugged forward,” and he and two teammates were honored in the 1936 Ista: “We pay due respects for the fine spirit of sportsmanship that they have displayed while under the Beaver colors and to the fine brand of ball that they have played. Some outstanding plays will stand out in our memories which will bring back the days when these players kept vigil beside the Beaver hut.”
Locher died in 2004.
Today, the late Dietrich “Dick” Rempel is known for his industrial design innovations, including the system that revolutionized the process of making rubber products. When he was at Bluffton, however, he was noted as a 203-pound tackle who wouldn’t stop until he had his man.
Rempel fled Russia in 1923, following that country’s revolution. Although he, his three sisters and a brother escaped, his parents and two brothers died. After working on a farm in Pennsylvania, he joined his uncle in California. He did not let his new country nor new language handicap him. He graduated from high school in less than the usual required time and, when he came to Bluffton, he played in the first football game he saw. He played tackle for the Beavers and was second-team all-conference his senior year. He also ran track.
Coach A.C. Burcky remembered one incident when Bluffton traveled north to play Bowling Green. “I told Rempel that when we kicked off, we had to get the man who was carrying the ball,” recalled Burcky. “In this particular game, we kicked off and Rempel was hit by a blocker. Before we realized what was happening, he literally picked up the blocker, tossed him aside and went after the ball carrier!”
Off the field, Rempel’s love was working with Dr. John P. Klassen and studying sculpture. Rempel’s final piece was “Horse and Fallen Rider,” which portrays a Cossack’s charger mourning over his fallen master. It was accepted for exhibit by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and today is on display in the Musselman Library.
In 1929 he graduated and became a United States citizen. He went to New York and attended the Master Institute of Roerich Museum–The School of United Artists, and was a student in the life class in the department of sculpture of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design.
In 1946 he started Rempel Manufacturing Inc. The business started with the production of three rubber toy animals, designed and molded from clay by Rempel. They were made with the revolutionary rubber processing system that created seamless rubber products. He has since obtained numerous patents and copyrights for his industrial designs.
According to Rempel, two Bluffton teachers greatly affected his life. “Dr. Klassen inspired me, and much that I have done is because of his teachings. Of course, I enjoyed playing football. Coach Burcky is a great person, and I learned through him how to lose gracefully.”
The late Harrold Johnson, a graduate of Dalton High School, had worked for three years in the steel mills of Canton before coming to Bluffton. He played sandlot football and baseball in Wayne and Stark counties and for a time played on the semipro Canton Bulldogs football team.
“I had been used to a rather rough and tumble type of life,” Johnson recalled. “My first thought of Coach Burcky was that he didn’t know much about football. I soon learned I was very, very wrong. His great sincerity and understanding had a great influence on my life.”
A.C. Burcky remembered how he could always count on Johnson. As a freshman, he was noted for playing every position at one time or another. The following year he settled into the center position, which he held for three years. He was also team captain for two years.
In addition to football, Johnson was an excellent pitcher, according to Burcky, who claims Johnson was confident in his ability as every good pitcher should be.
Johnson, who had no idea he would ever graduate, did so in 1935 with a degree in biology.
While he gave credit to many for helping and guiding him at Bluffton, he acknowledged Burcky as having the greatest lasting influence. “He taught me the importance of being a gentleman while playing as hard as I knew I could. I respect him as much as anyone I have known in my life,” says Johnson.
Following his graduation, he taught and coached for six years in the Dalton and Orrville schools. In 1945 he joined the Will-Burt Co., where he retired in 1975 as vice president. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Orrville, the Exchange Club and the Chamber of Commerce; a charter member of the Orrville United Way; and former secretary of the Orrville-Wayne Industrial Council.
Frankly, for the late James Miller, it all boiled down to money. Since he lived in Bluffton, he was able to live at home and go to college while working at Triplett Corp. for 25 cents an hour.
Still, Miller found time to play two of his favorite sports, football and baseball. The Varsity B member played for all four years of college. His sophomore year was the highlight of his football career, with the team ending the season 4-1-2. He was noted as a diminutive but elusive back with much determination. By the time he graduated, he had earned eight sports letters.
In addition to earning letters, he was learning valuable lessons for life. “One of the most important lessons I learned while attending Bluffton College and playing for Coach Burcky was that in life you need to learn to play with the hand you are dealt—to do with what you have—and if you do learn this, you’ll probably win more than your fair share of life’s prizes,” he said.
Miller recalled a tremendous amount of negative thinking throughout the country during the Depression years, yet he graduated from Bluffton with a positive attitude. “I think Coach Burcky is largely responsible for this attitude. He had little to deal with—money, equipment, talent—yet he made you feel that there was always a chance.”
In addition to his studies, work and athletics, Miller found time for other activities. He was on the men’s debate team that placed third in state competition in 1937. He was active in student government and was Student Council president his junior year. He was editor of the Ista yearbook and participated in thespians as a senior.
The leadership activities and positive attitude that Miller gained at Bluffton carried him into leadership positions after his 1939 graduation with a degree in social science. He taught and coached high school football before entering the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942. He was commissioned as a senior lieutenant during his four years with the Coast Guard. Following World War II, he returned to coaching, this time in Mission, Texas.
Miller was head of his own company, JFM Associates, a marketing organization selling energy-related products throughout Texas. He was also a community and church leader. His credits included being mayor of Mission and its Man of the Year in 1951; a school board and Lions Club president; and a member of a bank board of directors.
He was also a Sunday school teacher, lay leader and chair of the building financial drive for First Methodist Church in Mission.
A leader must think positively about life’s opportunities. Miller, who died in 2012, attributed his value of this personal quality in part to his educational experiences at Bluffton. “I am and will always be deeply grateful to Bluffton College and more particularly to Coach Burcky for this invaluable gift—a positive attitude.”
The late Harry V. Jump distinguished himself early on as a leader. During his freshman year at Bluffton in 1932, he managed to play football, basketball and tennis; get elected as class president; and become actively involved with the YMCA and Student Cabinet.
Jump was noted for playing a key role in the success of athletic teams in 1932. The basketball team, for instance, tied with Findlay for second place in the Northwest Ohio Conference. Jump, a stellar forward, was praised for his all-around play.
In football he was the answer to Coach Burcky’s prayers when the previous year’s quarterback graduated. “Jump not only called a perfect selection of plays but passed the ball with a keen eye and scampered for many long runs that netted scores,” noted the Ista yearbook. Jump and his teammates won the first conference championship in the history of the college with a 3-2-2 season.
His tennis agility was a positive addition to the men’s team and, for the second year in a row, the Bluffton tennis team captured the conference title.
During his sophomore year, his peers elected him co-captain of the basketball team. He was, according to the Ista, “a leader with the team because of his courage in defeat as well as in victory.” In football he was dubbed “the general” because he always had the right play at the right time, something rare in quarterbacks, noted Coach Burcky. He also began running track for Bluffton during his sophomore year.
During his junior year, he was listed as the football team’s star passer during a 3-4 season; the basketball team soared to new heights with an 11-5 record; and he continued running track. When that year ended, he had earned nine sports letters through three short years.
After three outstanding years as a leader on and off the playing field, it was only natural that he was elected captain of the 1935 football team as a senior. But Jump did not return for a fourth year. It was still the Depression, and he started teaching at Goshen Township High School in the fall of 1935. He taught for three years and in 1938, after picking up the required college courses during the summers, earned his degree in mathematics.
Jump died in 1989.
The late James Allen Creel began his Bluffton career as a leader both in sports and student organizations. In 1934, Creel’s freshman year, he was elected class president and held an exclusive backfield post the entire football season. He became involved in basketball, baseball and track as well, making a name for himself as the most versatile athlete at Bluffton.
Creel played during the A.C. Burcky era. “In athletics, under our fine coach and gentleman A.C. Burcky, I learned how to win graciously and lose gracefully, a lesson that has aided me countless times since my graduation from Bluffton,” he said.
Creel was a part of the 1937 football team that Coach Burcky called, “… the best team we have had in the history of Bluffton College.” His rushing and receiving that year made Bluffton a formidable competitor.
In basketball his freshman year, Creel began earning a reputation for aggressive play on the court. The 1934 Ista described him as having “natural basket-getting superiority” and “aggressive guarding tactics.” His basketball talents increased during his four years at Bluffton and, in a 1937 game against Findlay, he scored 24 points.
Creel also earned respect in baseball and track, and by his fourth year he held 11 athletic letters.
Creel, who died in 2000, believed in the importance of relating well with people. “The four years I spent at Bluffton taught me how to live with other people on a day-to-day basis and to respect their way of life. In whole, I learned not only academically, but tolerance and understanding as well.”
The late Shirley “Sam” Seymour majored in biology and was a three-year letterman in football. In various editions of the Ista, Seymour was described as “the Painesville Terror,” who was one of those lean, lanky tackles who “hit like a brick.” Though only 150 pounds, he was called “a real fighter.” Several times he was mentioned for outstanding efforts in spite of a team loss. One yearbook paid him and two previous hall of fame inductees, “due respects for the fine spirit of sportsmanship … and to the fine brand of ball that they played.”
Seymour became a dentist who served the Painesville, Ohio, area for 39 years following his graduation from the Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1940. He was a life member of the American Dental Society, serving as president in 1949-50.
Said Seymour of his college experiences: “Bluffton exposed me to quality moral and academic teachings that became the foundation of my life. Athletic participation was both a recreational activity and a learning experience.” He was secretary-treasurer of Varsity B, Junior Hi-Y adviser and Senior Hi-Y adviser.
Among his civic activities in Painesville were the following: member of the Lake County Planning Commission and chair of the Committee on Subdivision Regulation, chair of the Leroy Township Zoning Commission, director of the Lake County Branch of the American Cancer Society and director and treasurer of the Friends of Marley Library Association.
The Painesville Telegraph, referring to the retirements of Seymour and his brother Raymond, said in 1979: “Professional skill and a rare ability to please the public contributed to the outstanding success of these two dentists. Time and good service have endeared them to their patients. Their decision to continue to live in the county is at least something to be happy about as they slowly fade from the professional scene. The Seymour brothers have earned a happy retirement. Their friends and the people who have known them as ‘Doctor’ won’t forget them. They did their profession well and were a credit to downtown Painesville.”
Seymour died in 1997.
Olin Baumgartner, a Bluffton graduate who was Ken Altier’s high school teacher and assistant football coach, was instrumental in getting Altier to Bluffton, both through a personal loan and arranging work. From there, Altier went on to become a teacher and counselor of youth.
A graduate of Girard High School, Altier was active in extracurricular activities while majoring in social studies at Bluffton. He was a four-year letterman in both football and baseball, May Day chair in 1938, president of Student Council in 1938-39 and Most Popular Man at the 1939 May Day ceremonies. He was also active on The Witmarsum and the yearbook, and in Varsity B.
The 1939 Ista describes his selection as Most Popular Man: “Given the highest honor bestowed upon any man on the campus, Kenneth Altier, senior of Girard, will escort the Bluffton May Day queen to her throne of honor. Altier’s athletic prowess on the gridiron and baseball diamond, together with his student government leadership and other activity participation, well merits this popular position.”
Upon leaving Bluffton, Altier became chief deputy for the Trumbull County sheriff for five years and then began his teaching career at Newton Falls High School, where he was also a coach and athletics director. He served there 16 years and completed his master’s degree from Kent State in 1950.
He returned “home” in 1960 to Girard High School, where he was director of guidance and assistant principal. After his retirement from the school in 1977, Altier served as a trained answerer for Contact, a 24-hour trauma hot line; delivered Meals on Wheels; volunteered for Catholic Charities; and served as a teacher of history and government to the foreign-born who were studying at the International Institute in Youngstown to become naturalized citizens.
Altier said, “My experiences as a student and as an athlete at Bluffton had a major influence on the formation of my adult philosophy. Exchanging ideas with fellow students in Lincoln Hall and coming under the influence of Coach A.C. Burcky have had positive effects on my values and way of life.”
Altier died in 2007.
The late Robert Schaublin started his athletic career at Bluffton High School in football, basketball and track. He was a member of the best cage team in Pirate history, winning its first 23 games before losing by two points in the state finals. An honor student, he also captained the football and track teams.
Schaublin selected Bluffton College because of its strong Christian beliefs. He majored in biology and physical science and played four sports, earning 13 letters.
Schaublin later received his master’s degree from Wayne State University. He taught and coached in Ohio public schools for seven years, was an athletics director in the U.S. Army Air Corps for four years and was in education rehabilitation for three years in Veterans Administration hospitals.
In 1949, he moved to St. Clair Shores, Mich., where he served as Lakeview High School principal until 1977. After that, he taught briefly at Sheldon Jackson College in Alaska before returning to Lakeview schools as superintendent for a year. The school board later named the 2,000-seat school auditorium in his honor.
Commenting on his years at Bluffton, Schaublin noted that “Bluffton imbued me with a great interest in competitive sports along with clean Christian living. This interest led me to teaching and coaching and as a school administrator who developed a strong athletics program. I firmly believed in good discipline, a strong academic program and a well-rounded athletics program. The school yearbook stated that ‘you could see Mr. Schaublin at just about every school function.’ That’s the way I stayed close to the kids.”
Schaublin died in 2006.
The late Galen Leatherman was influenced to attend Bluffton by Olin Baumgartner, a Bluffton graduate who was Leatherman’s high school principal and coach. In time, Leatherman became the same kind of leader and role model for others in a lifetime of teaching and coaching.
At Jackson Township High School in Hoytville, Ohio, he was a three-sport letterman who captained his baseball and basketball teams and was president of the senior class.
He then won 10 varsity letters at Bluffton in football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of the baseball and basketball teams, president of Varsity B and elected Most Popular Man while at Bluffton, where he graduated in 1932 with a degree in biological science.
He returned to Hoytville as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent from 1932-42. He also served in the Army for three years, reaching the rank of sergeant. Following his military service, he spent six more years as a superintendent and coach. He stopped coaching in 1951 to concentrate on administrative duties, and he finished his education career in 1976 after serving eight years as an occupational work experience teacher at a vocational school in Milan, Ohio.
He was active in a number of professional organizations and served as president of Hoytville council.
Of those who influenced his life, Leatherman commented, “Olin Baumgartner was a hardworking and dedicated teacher who practiced what he preached. A.C. Burcky taught me to win and lose gracefully, and that winning isn’t everything. The leaders in the field of athletics must make good men better. I have tried to be that type of leader.”
Leatherman died in 1998.
The late Irvin Conrad served as a teacher, coach and administrator in several Ohio schools.
Conrad participated in football, track and basketball in both high school and college, earning seven and six letters, respectively. A history and social science major at Bluffton, Conrad went on to earn his master’s degree from The Ohio State University and was named to the university’s Sigma Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.
He began teaching in 1928 in the Van Buren school district and also served as a coach. The following year he went to the Liberty-Benton school district, where he was a teacher and coach for seven years. By 1936 he had worked his way up to district superintendent, and in 1943 he moved to Wapakoneta as high school principal and superintendent.
After spending most of his career in small school districts, Conrad decided to take on the challenge of a high school in a large city. He took a teaching position in Toledo in 1951 and after three years became an assistant principal of DeVilbiss High School. From there he moved up rapidly to become executive director for all 10 high schools in the city. Conrad retired in 1972.
He was past president of both the Rotary Club in Wapakoneta and the Ottawa Park Exchange Club in Toledo.
Conrad looked back on his Bluffton experience as inspirational and informative. “Attendance at Bluffton as a student and participating as an athlete in sports did help to shape my life. A small Christian school located in a beautiful setting, dedicated and qualified faculty, a fine program of studies and activities, participation in sports … helped to prepare me to enter the teaching profession with the proper tools and with confidence that I could succeed.”
Jim Benroth played baseball, football and basketball at Bluffton and earned four letters in each sport. As a senior, Benroth was named first-team all-league for his efforts on the gridiron. He also played basketball and football at Cory-Rawson High School, earning two letters in each sport.
A business administration and economics major, Benroth began work at Marathon Oil Co. after graduation. Beginning as a land man and tax analyst, he took the position of field tax man in Casper, Wyo., in 1965, then returned to Ohio in 1973.
Benroth has been a member of the American Right of Way Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Ohio Athletic Association. He is an approved Ohio and international basketball official and has been a youth baseball coach.
He has also been a Sunday school teacher and superintendent at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Findlay, where he served three years as chair of the pastor-parish committee.
At Cory-Rawson, he was a member and president of the school board, as well as a Pony League baseball coach and secretary-treasurer of the Hancock County Pony League.
Benroth looks back on his Bluffton experience as inspirational and formative. “I have always been overwhelmed and grateful how my student life at Bluffton has affected my life. The warm Christian atmosphere always had its positive influence on me. The caring attitude of the faculty was always impressive and has stayed with me ever since. Sports participation was the most impressive for me as I was able to enjoy each sport so much. The friendships and relations with fellow students and opponents were always very enjoyable. This background continued to establish a positive work and participation attitude that stays with me today.”
Richard Rosenberger played football and basketball and ran track at Bluffton. He earned seven letters for his efforts, four of them in basketball. During his senior year, Rosenberger was named to the All-Mid-Ohio League basketball team. He also participated in basketball, football and track at Dalton High School.
A history major, Rosenberger went to law school following graduation. He earned his law degree in 1958 and went into general practice. Rosenberger has been a member of the American, Pennsylvania, Montgomery County and Bucks County Bar associations.
He served as deacon for the West Swamp Mennonite Church and director of the Quakertown Lions Club. He has also been a member of the General Conference Mennonite Church Division of Administration and the Bluffton Board of Trustees.
“Participation in sports was meaningful and enjoyable,” he said. “Winning is always nice, but sports are a great leveler in life and learning to accept the outcome of the game graciously provides a hedge for the game of life. I continue to see Bluffton as a place of opportunity and growth academically, physically, morally and spiritually.”
Bill Ramseyer participated in football and track at Bluffton, where he was a part of two league-champion teams and earned six letters. He was a member of the football, basketball, baseball and track teams at Bluffton High School, where he earned nine letters in all.
A psychology major, Ramseyer received his master’s degree in physical education from Bowling Green State University and his doctorate from the University of Missouri. Ramseyer went on to be a professor of health, physical education and recreation at Wilmington College, as well as athletics director and head football coach. As football coach at Wilmington, he compiled an impressive 98-46-3 record in 16 consecutive winning seasons.
He has more than 30 years of coaching experience, including two years at Bluffton as head baseball and wrestling coach and defensive coordinator for the 1967 Mid-Ohio League championship football team. He also served four years as head scout and an assistant football coach at the University of Missouri.
Ramseyer has been a member of the National Education Association, the Ohio and American associations for HPER, and the American and NAIA Football Coaches associations. He also served four years on the NAIA Academic All-American Selection Committee.
He has been a Sunday school teacher and youth group adviser, and has served as chair of community March of Dimes, heart and cancer fund drives. He has also been a member of the Wilmington Friends Church Board of Trustees and the church choir.
ed as chairman for the Community March of Dimes, heart and cancer fund drives. He has been on the Board of Trustees of the Wilmington Friends Church and also sings in the choir.
John Weber, a business graduate, lettered in football four years, was captain of the 1960 and 1962 squads and was Most Valuable Player of the 1962 team that finished 7-2 and was Mid-Ohio League co-champion.
In 1959 Weber led the MOL in rushing as the Beavers won the league title. He also lettered in baseball two years and was captain of the 1962 co-champion team.
Weber has been president of Superior Memorials since 1973. He has also been president of the Kitchener (Ont.) Minor Baseball Association and general manager of a semi-pro baseball team.
“Bluffton sports helped me to develop my desire to do well,” Weber said. “My outstanding memory of my playing days is the Findlay game my sophomore year. We were underdogs but won 22-14. I made a 70-yard touchdown run and scored another touchdown in the big upset.”
Lynn Martin not only was a four-year letterman in both football and basketball, but he also received three golf awards and another in baseball, matching the 12 letters he had won at Mount Blanchard High School.
He was an All-Mid-Ohio Conference offensive guard on a 7-2 Bluffton football team in 1965. He was also a guard on the basketball court, and that’s where he really stood out.
He was All-MOC three times in basketball, first-team All-NAIA District 22 once and second team all-district once. He still holds the Bluffton single-game record of 19 field goals, plus a career free throw percentage of .812. He is sixth in career scoring at 1,513 points—with a 17.8 average per game—and tied for sixth in single-game scoring, with 42 points against Northwood during his sophomore season. He is also near the top of five other statistical categories, including his mark of scoring 20 or more points in 39 games.
In 1974, Martin started a successful coaching career at Van Buren High School.
As coach of the boys’ basketball Black Knights, Martin had a record of 243-96 and won seven Blanchard Valley Conference championships, 11 sectional titles, six district championships and two regional titles. His 1985 and 1986 teams were state semifinalists, and he was named BVC Coach of the Year six times.
In six years as golf coach, he led his teams to two sectional and two district championships, plus a third-place finish at the state tournament in 1984 and the state title in 1985.
He was also an assistant football coach and athletics director at Van Buren before moving on to Olentangy High School near Columbus as athletics director.
The late Reuben Conrad earned one letter each in basketball and football as a Bluffton athlete, but it was in track and field where he was a standout, earning four letters while competing in the 100- and 220-yard dashes, the long jump, javelin and mile relay. Conrad once threw the javelin more than 166 feet, which stood as the school record for many years. A history major, he also participated in several non-athletic extracurricular activities, including three years in the Men’s Glee Club and the Choral Society.
After earning his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Illinois, he was a high school teacher and coach for 10 years, coaching basketball, football and track.
Conrad then took an administrative position in Arlington Heights, Ill., as coordinator of curriculum and supervisor of instruction, serving for 28 years. At retirement, he received lifetime honorary membership in the state and national Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Conrad officiated football, basketball and track for 25 years on the high school and collegiate levels. He also entered many Senior Olympics—receiving numerous awards in tennis, track and field, basketball free throw and shuffleboard—and participated in square dancing, biking and ballroom dancing. He died in 1998.
Jim Sommer, a graduate of Pekin (Ill.) High School, earned four letters in basketball and two in football. He holds school records in basketball and earned postseason honors in both sports.
In basketball, Sommer holds the single-game mark for rebounds (29) and career records for most rebounds (1,030) and best rebound average (12.4). He led the team in rebounding three years and in scoring once.
Sommer was first-team All-Mid-Ohio Conference twice in basketball and a second-team selection once, and was first-team All-NAIA District 22 once.
He led the football team in receiving twice and was the first non-back ever to lead the Beavers in scoring (50 points in 1967). Sommer had eight touchdown receptions that year. He was All-MOC twice in football and earned first-team all-district honors once.
Sommer, who graduated in 1968 with a major in business administration, taught and coached at Delphos Jefferson High School for four years and served as sales manager at Sommer Brothers Seed Co.
Mike Goings, a graduate of Paulding (Ohio) High School, had a spectacular individual Bluffton football season in 1962. His 22 touchdowns and 132 points led the nation’s small colleges as he ran for 1,183 yards.
In addition to the single-season records for touchdowns and scoring, he holds the single-game record for yards rushing, with 314 vs. Alma in 1962.
Goings was All-MOC and all-district from 1961-63 and in 1965. He was the first player to lead the Beavers in rushing all four years. For his career, Goings had 3,338 yards in 580 attempts, plus 47 touchdowns and two conversions for 284 points.
A 1970 graduate with a major in social work, Goings has worked for Lima City Schools as a guidance counselor and home school coordinator, for the United Parcel Service and as a sales representative for J.M. Sealts Co.
The late Evan Soash, son of a Bluffton physician, was a star football, basketball and track athlete for the Bluffton High School Pirates. He held the Bluffton high-jump record of 6-3 for many years.
At Bluffton College, he lettered four years in football and track and three years in baseball. He later played football for the U.S. Navy team under Coach Paul Brown at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
A pre-medicine major at Bluffton, he later added a bachelor’s degree with a major in science in education from Bowling Green State University.
Soash coached, taught and was a principal in the Alger school system (now Upper Scioto Valley) for seven years. He then moved to Michigan, where he was a teacher, coach and assistant principal at Lakeview High School for 12 years and principal at Warren Woods High School for three years.
He later moved to Florida, where he was coordinator of secondary curriculum and principal at Vero Beach Junior High School for 13 years.
Soash, who died in 2004, officiated high school and professional sports, being active year-round in football, basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball. One of his greatest thrills was serving as plate umpire for several Los Angeles Dodgers exhibition games in 1977 when the major league umpires were on strike. He also umpired many minor league baseball games in Florida.
Robert Hewitt, a native of Massillon, Ohio, lettered in football and track four years at Bluffton. His 86-yard kickoff return for a score was a Bluffton record for a few years, and his 92-yard run from scrimmage remains tied for the fifth-longest in school history. He also had a 72-yard run from scrimmage as a freshman and a 70-yard run as a senior.
He was selected as a first-team All-Mid-Ohio Conference halfback in 1967 and 1968, and All-NAIA District 22 in 1968. He led his team in rushing twice and was the top scorer once. He ranks 18th on the Bluffton career rushing list with 1,682 yards.
In track Hewitt was a member of the school record-setting 440-yard and mile relay teams. The mile team also established a MOC mark. At the Tri-State Relays his senior year, he was a member of winning teams in the sprint medley relay, 440-yard relay, 880-yard relay and mile relay.
After leaving Bluffton, he earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in social work from Wayne State University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively.
From 1987 until his retirement in 2008, Hewitt was a faculty member in social work at Shippensburg (Pa.) University. Previously, he had spent more than 15 years working for the federal government both as an Army officer and a civilian, living and working in Panama for 11 of those years.
In addition to his duties at Shippensburg, he has taught social work principles in the community. Other activities have included leading a support group for parents of pre-teens and teenagers in Chambersburg, Pa., and conducting a date rape/rape violence workshop for high school juniors and seniors.
Glenn Snyder was a football player, longtime coach and administrator at Bluffton.
Snyder coached the Bluffton men’s basketball team for 14 years—the fourth-longest men’s hoops tenure—while recording, at the time, the most wins and best percentage of anyone who had coached more than three years.
Snyder taught in the health, fitness and sport science department and also had stints as head tennis coach and an assistant football and baseball coach. He was Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference tennis Coach of the Year in 1985.
During his 20 years at Bluffton, he also served as director of admissions, dean of men, director of Marbeck Center, acting dean of students, athletics director, a department chair and faculty chair.
Snyder played football for four years as a Bluffton student, earning All-Mid-Ohio League honors at center as a senior.
A native of Girard, Ohio, he holds a master’s degree from Kent State University and a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. He has also coached, taught and/or been an administrator at Fresno Pacific, Bethel, the United States Sports Academy and the International School of Theology.
The late James Bishop was a four-year letterman in football, baseball and basketball, earning All-Mid-Ohio Conference honors as a football center in 1955. He was considered the ultimate team player and could play any of the line positions.
Jim was more than an athlete, though. He was active in musical groups, was on the Homecoming court and, as a senior, was voted Most Popular Man for May Day ceremonies and appeared in “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges.” Bishop was also a member of Student Council, an officer in the Student Christian Association, president of the Bluffton Choir and active in Big Brothers-Big Sisters.
Following graduation, he worked 26 years for General Motors. He then spent 10 years as a regional manager with Electronic Data Systems before retiring.
Bishop was a member of Plymouth (Mich.) United Methodist Church and its finance committee, a volunteer with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and, until retirement, an avid golfer.
Bishop died in 1995 following a three-year battle with cancer.
The 1958 football team reigned as the greatest of all time until the 1988 squad came along, but the earlier team’s exploits remain legendary in Beaver grid history. The 1958 Ken Mast-coached squad dominated opponents far greater than any Bluffton team, winning by an average of 25.3 points per game and posting an average yardage advantage of 217.8 yards per contest.
The team gained an amazing 7.7 yards per play. Its rushing total (3,015 yards), average rushing yards per game (335) and yards per rushing attempt (7.2) remain Bluffton standards. Six opponents were shut out, another school record. The ’58 squad also holds Bluffton records for yards per pass attempt (10.7) and yards per catch (24.1).
The Beavers shut out four of the first five opponents, losing only to Heidelberg. After a 42-30 victory at Findlay, they shut out Ashland and Manchester before edging Centre to cap off their second 8-1 season in three years. In the 57-0 rout of Ashland, the Beavers racked up 622 yards of total offense—the fourth highest total in Bluffton history—and their 500-yard advantage in total offense (622-122) is the second highest ever. The 57-point margin is tied for the largest Bluffton margin of victory, while the nine touchdowns scored against both Ashland and Ohio Northern are tied for first in Bluffton’s record book.
Receiving first-team all-conference honors were Elbert Dubenion, Joe Urich, Jim Buffenbarger and Chet Foraker on offense, and Jim Weaver, C.K. Steiner, Ed Smoker and Urich on defense. Dubenion had 1,288 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns for 102 points, while Urich hit 18 passes for 512 yards and five scores.
Bob Smucker came to Bluffton from Orrville High School. A four-year football player, he captained the Beavers his junior and senior years, earning All-Mid-Ohio League honors as a senior guard.
Smucker assisted in recruiting Elbert Dubenion to Bluffton. He said that is more memorable than his personal accomplishments, since Dubenion went on to become the most honored athlete in Bluffton history and a pro football player.
While at Bluffton, Smucker was class president as a sophomore, class treasurer as a senior, Homecoming escort his last three years, business manager of the yearbook and a four-year member of Varsity B.
Smucker was a lobbyist at the local and national levels for many nonprofit organizations, as well as director of public policy for the National Mental Health Association. He was also vice president for government relations at Independent Sector, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that assists nonprofit groups in their lobbying and organizational efforts.
His book, “The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide: Advocating Your Case – and Getting Results,” is an authoritative guide demonstrating the many ways that nonprofit professionals and volunteers can organize lobbying campaigns, better understand the legislative process, deal effectively with the media, communicate with legislators and develop grass-roots action.
The late Fred Liechty played three sports at Bluffton after graduating from Berne (Ind.) High School. He lettered twice in football and four times each in basketball and baseball.
In baseball, he was the leading hitter all four years and posted a .577 average in 1948. His other extracurricular activities included Student Christian Association, Men’s Glee Club and May Day chair in 1949. He was also voted Most Popular Man on campus in 1950.
Most of Liechty’s subsequent career was spent at First Bank of Berne, where he served 16 years as cashier, 23 years as a director and 12 years as president before retiring in 1993.
He was active on the Adams County Migrant Committee and the First Mennonite Refugee Resettlement Committee. A Sunday school teacher for 41 years, he had also been president of the Mennonite Choral Society and was a Mennonite Biblical Seminary board member for 17 years.
Liechty, who died in 2012, credited Bluffton with helping him grow and mature, saying he had been impressed with the friendly attitude of people on campus. He also noted that his exposure to Mennonite thinking about service and peace issues changed his position on the military draft. “Bluffton became my family for four years and gave me values that have shaped my life and that of my family,” he said.
Sylvester Moore ’76 was one of the outstanding defensive middle guards in Bluffton football history, earning All-Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference honors and first-team NAIA District 22 honors three straight years.
He received two national awards his senior year, gaining second-team NAIA All-American recognition and honorable mention Little All-American. Only he, Elbert Dubenion ’59 and Greg Gilcrease ’89 have received first- or second-team All-American honors among Bluffton football players.
Moore was an outstanding player despite his size (175 pounds), as he utilized quickness to become virtually unstoppable on the defensive line. He was named Bluffton’s outstanding defensive player as a sophomore, then was the Beavers’ Most Valuable Player his junior and senior seasons.
He has since been a teacher in the Cleveland school system.
Everett Collier was and is more than an outstanding football player. In fact, it was his difficulty in adjusting to small-town life that led him to participate in Bluffton music and drama activities, which now occupy a lot of his personal time.
A graduate of Shaker Heights High School near Cleveland, where he lettered in football and basketball and was an all-league standout, Collier was urged to attend Bluffton by another Shaker Heights student, Henry Freeman. He became a four-year football letter winner at Bluffton, earning Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference and NAIA District 22 honors twice. He also was an honorable mention All-American, played in
the All-Ohio Shrine Bowl, was most valuable offensive player and team captain in 1974 and was a member of the 1972 HBCC championship team.
Collier was an assistant football coach at Bluffton from 1985-89 and assistant basketball coach at Bluffton High School from 1986-89. He has also assisted with the Bluffton High School girls’ basketball and volleyball teams, and has served as postmaster of the village of Bluffton.
The late Joe Urich was a two-year, two-position, first-team all-conference performer for the Bluffton football team in the late 1950s.
Perhaps the best indication of just how good an athlete Urich was for Bluffton is to look at the positions he played: quarterback and middle linebacker. He started at both positions in 1958 and ‘59 and was named first-team Mid-Ohio Conference at each one both years while helping Coach Ken Mast’s teams capture two MOC titles.
In an era when the passing game was rarely used and with Hall of Famer Elbert Dubenion ’59 in the backfield, Urich wasn’t called on to throw the football very often. When he did, however, the results usually brought the fans at Harmon Field to their feet. His career pass efficiency rating of 162.74 still stands as the highest in school history, although he didn’t have enough attempts to rank him in the official Bluffton record book. His play at middle linebacker was equally impressive, as his ability to track down opposing ball carriers was second to none.
At the time of his Hall of Fame induction in 1999, Urich was the only Bluffton quarterback to have averaged more than 10 yards per attempt (10.8). He remains one of a handful to throw more touchdown passes (11) than interceptions (eight) in his Bluffton career.
Urich was an insurance agent for more than 20 years and also coached football at Bluffton in 1985 and earlier, in 1970, at Bluffton High School.
A forceful presence both on the football field and the track, Larry Copeland ’65 entered the Athletics Hall of Fame as a dominant member of several talented Beaver football teams and of a record-setting mile relay team in 1962.
A four-year starter at offensive and defensive end for football coach Ken Mast, Copeland was a member of two Mid-Ohio League championship teams and two MOL runner-up teams. He was named first-team All-MOL as a senior, when he capped a stellar playing career remembered for his intensity and ability to make the big play.
Copeland’s efforts on the Bluffton mile relay team were also legendary, as he helped that quartet to a 3:27.7 performance in 1962 that set a Bluffton and MOL record that would stand until 1969. Other members of that relay team included Terry Marshall ’64, Dale Schiffke ’64 and fellow 2000 Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Bishop ’63. Copeland was also one of the top open 440-yard dash runners in the region.
Following his graduation, Copeland held football coaching positions at Norwalk, Vermilion and Colonel Crawford high schools before returning to coach at Bluffton in 1975. In his one season with the Beavers, he served as offensive coordinator and helped guide his alma mater to a runner-up finish in the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference.
In 1976, Larry founded Copeland Financial and Copeland-Lewis, both in Findlay.
A three-sport standout for Bluffton in the early 1960s, Dennis Bishop ’63 entered the Athletics Hall of Fame with an impressive list of credentials.
A four-year track performer, Bishop was a member of the mile relay squad that turned in a 3:27.7 effort his junior year, good for a Bluffton and Mid-Ohio League record that stood until 1969. Joining him on that record-setting relay were Terry Marshall ’64, Dale Schiffke ’64 and fellow 2000 Hall of Fame inductee Larry Copeland ’65. Individually, Bishop won or placed high in nearly every 880-yard race he entered for four years, and also turned in impressive times in the 440-yard dash.
On the football field, he was a member of two MOL championship teams coached by Ken Mast. A valuable weapon at both offensive and defensive end, he averaged 25 yards per catch as a senior as the Beavers turned in a 7-2 campaign for the league title. Bishop also lettered two years in basketball and was among the team leaders in rebounds.
Bishop received the A.C. Burcky Award as a senior and graduated with a degree in biology. He taught at Liberty Center and Findlay high schools and at Hagerstown (Md.) Junior College before founding a real estate management company in Findlay. He went on to become part owner of a plastics company and a farmer.
In 1996, Bishop became involved with Global Resources Foundation, which led him to aid Christian farmers and business people in the Ukraine. He has also teamed with The CoMission, which reaches out to the educational system in Russia.
The first of Bluffton’s eight Mid-Ohio League championship teams, the 1951 squad entered the Athletics Hall of Fame just one year before its 50-year anniversary. The Beavers posted a 6-2 overall record in 1951 and a 4-1 mark in the MOL.
In claiming its league crown, Bluffton recorded some impressive victories. Perhaps chief among them was the Beavers’ 13-7 victory over Ohio Northern—Bluffton’s first-ever triumph in 23 tries against the Polar Bears. A 12-3 win over Findlay was Bluffton’s first over the Oilers in 11 years, while a 27-12 Homecoming win over Ashland was the first against the Eagles in 10 years.
Second-year head coach Ken Mast fashioned an offensive unit that averaged an impressive 278 yards per game, while his defensive squad gave up one touchdown or less in five games.
Junior running back Charlie Spencer scored 14 touchdowns during the season and converted all of Bluffton’s 12 extra points. He was named first-team All-MOL, as were guard Bob Smucker and end Jim Oliver. Freshman quarterback Leland Garmatter earned second-team all-league honors as he passed for 710 yards and 10 touchdowns.
1951 BC Football
The first player in Bluffton football history to collect more than 1,000 career receiving yards, Abraham Groves ’80 was the Beavers’ aerial “go-to” player for four years, from 1976-79. When his playing days were done, he held Bluffton records for career receptions (79) and yards (1,025), and he remains in the top 10 in both of those categories today.
A native of Dalton, Ohio, Groves was also a punt and kickoff return threat and led Bluffton and the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference in punt returns as a senior. That year, he also led the Beavers in kickoff returns, and his 35 receptions for 412 yards were, at the time, the second-best single-season receiving statistics at Bluffton. In career punt returns, Groves’ 8.4-yard average per return ranks fourth in the Bluffton record book, while his 143 return yards rank 10th.
Groves broke into Bluffton’s starting lineup as a freshman and caught seven passes for 113 yards. As a sophomore he established himself as one of the top receivers in the HBCC, hauling in 28 catches for 394 yards and three touchdowns and picking up second-team all-conference honors. An off-season leg injury gave Groves a late start to the 1978 season, but he still managed to catch nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown before getting back to full strength for his record-setting senior season, when he again was named second-team all-conference. In the spring of his senior year, Groves had tryouts with the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots of the National Football League.
Groves was honored with the 1980 A.C. Burcky Award, given annually to Bluffton’s top senior male student-athlete. In addition to his accomplishments on the football field, Groves lettered in basketball as a sophomore and lettered twice in track. He was named the track team’s MVP as a senior when he turned in its top performances in the 200-meter dash (22.8 seconds), 400-meter dash (51.9) and high jump (6-2), and was a member of the 1600-meter relay team (3:28.7).
Groves earned a degree in education with concentrations in art and history. He taught and was a varsity assistant football coach at Massillon Jackson High School for two years before he entered the medical sales business in 1983. He worked in cardiology medical sales for Cordis Corp., a division of Johnson & Johnson, where he was named the sales division’s rookie of the year and the company’s national sales representative of the year several times.
A first-team All-Mid-Ohio Conference selection at offensive end as a senior in 1959, Ron Lora was a main cog in the passing game on teams that make up the greatest era of Bluffton football.
Lora lettered all four seasons and was named a team captain for three of those years. With Hall of Famers Elbert Dubenion and Willie Taylor in the backfield for head coach Ken Mast, the running game took center stage, but Lora was still among the team leaders in touchdowns.
The Bluffton High School graduate also lettered in basketball two seasons for the Beavers and served as president of the Varsity B Club for three years.
After graduating in 1960 with a degree in business administration, Lora spent several years as a coach in the Fostoria school system before returning to Bluffton as a professor of history in 1964. He earned his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1967 and that year moved on to the University of Toledo, where he is now a professor emeritus of history.
The author/editor of several books, Lora is a regular columnist in The Bluffton News and has dozens of published articles and book reviews to his credit. He was a member of the Bluffton Board of Trustees from 1987-2011 and is active in many other organizations.
A three-year performer at quarterback for Bluffton, Mike Kelly steadily climbed up the list of top career passers. When he graduated in 1980, Kelly ranked third in career completions (95), fourth in career attempts (242) and fifth in career passing yardage (1,028). He was just the sixth player in Bluffton history to pass for more than 1,000 yards and today ranks 17th on the career passing yardage list.
After graduating with a degree in health, physical education and recreation, Kelly held college coaching positions at Edinboro, Marietta, Ohio Wesleyan, Capital and San Francisco State before going to the professional ranks as offensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League from 1992-96. He returned to the collegiate level as head coach at Valdosta State from 1997-99 before returning to the CFL in 2000 with Edmonton.
In 2001 he was the offensive coordinator of the Orlando Rage of the XFL, before joining the ranks of the National Football League as a pro scout with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was also an offensive assistant coach for the Eagles before moving on to the Washington Redskins, then back to the CFL.
A native of Muncie, Ind., Kelly is a member of the Delaware County (Ind.) Athletic Hall of Fame. He has been published many times in football coaching magazines and has a tremendous history with charity organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Coached by Ken Mast, the 1962 football team posted a 7-2 record and claimed the Mid-Ohio Conference championship.
Six Bluffton players earned all-conference honors—Mike Goings, Larry Stover, Willie Stemen, John Weber, Ralph Pitzer and Ken Schwarzentraub. Goings and Stover were also selected to the all-state team among Ohio small colleges.
Goings garnered additional honors as the leading scorer and third-leading rusher among small-college players nationally. In 1962, he set still-standing Bluffton records for most rushing yards in a game (314 yards on 21 carries against Alma), most touchdowns in a season (22) and most points in a season (132).
1962 results, 7-2
Bluffton 29, Grand Rapids 13
Bluffton 32, Alma 8
Bluffton 35, Wilmington 8
Bluffton 31, Defiance 19
Findlay 28, Bluffton 8
Bluffton 12, Ohio Northern 10
Ashland 20, Bluffton 8
Bluffton 27, Manchester 6
Bluffton 41, Northwood 7
A four-year starting quarterback on the Bluffton football team, Hemmert helped lead the Beavers to the NAIA national playoffs in 1987 and 1988.
At the time of his graduation in 1989, Hemmert held 24 school records. His career totals that still rank among the best in Bluffton football history include: 5,614 yards of total offense (fourth), 4,951 passing yards (fourth), 290 completions (fifth), a .522 completion percentage (seventh), 39 touchdown passes (second) and a pass efficiency rating of 141.1 (second).
Armed with a potent passing game and a powerful running attack, of which he was also a part (663 career rushing yards), Hemmert led four of Bluffton’s most successful teams, tallying a career record of 32-7 for an .821 winning percentage. He was named team Most Valuable Player in 1987, first-team NAIA District 22 in 1989 and A.C. Burcky Award winner in 1989.
After graduating, Hemmert played one season with the West London Aces in the European Football League, leading his team to an 11-1 record and a spot in the league playoffs. Hemmert then began a career with Bank One, where he has held positions as banking center manager, sales and service coach and district manager. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Ashland University in 2000.
Hemmert is also a licensed high school football and basketball referee who has officiated several playoff football games in Ohio.
Harold “Tubby” Gaverick, a football linebacker and baseball catcher for the Beavers from 1958-60, transferred to Bluffton from the University of Illinois.
He had to sit out a year before he could play. During that year he served as a football student coach and scouted next weeks opponents. He was elected football co-captain both years he played, and earned all conference recognition both years in football, and in baseball his senior year.
The Lima news article, “BC Blasts Defiance for 20th MOL Win” said, “Gaverick intercepted two passes and joined in practically every tackle, establishing himself as clearly the best defensive player on the field.”
The father of three sons, he was very active in coaching all youth league sports.
After graduation with a degree in business, Gaverick joined State Farm Insurance, was an agent, agency manager and director of education and training. He taught insurance classes at Lakeland Community College and life insurance classes for the National Association of Life Insurance.
He served eight years on Mentor School Board and is the only board member to receive the Mentor Teacher Association’s “Friend of Education” award.
Gaverick retired in 2006 and he and his wife Nola moved to Goodyear, Ariz.
Carlin Carpenter led the Bluffton football team for 24 seasons before retiring following the 2002 campaign.
He holds the record for most wins by a football coach in Bluffton history, with 103, and was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference co-Coach of the Year in 2000. That year, he guided the Beavers to a 7-3 record, a national ranking and a share of the HCAC championship.
Carpenter led his 1987 and 1988 teams to the NAIA national playoffs; the 1988 team, along with the 1985 Beavers, have been inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame as well. From 1985-90, Carpenter’s teams compiled a 44-13 record and were nationally ranked each year. At the time of his retirement, his head coaching tenure was the longest among Ohio’s collegiate head football coaches.
When he came to campus in 1979, Carpenter also started his college teaching career with a position in the health, physical education and recreation department as an assistant professor. From 1980-2003, he was athletics director as well.
Before joining the Bluffton community, Carpenter was an assistant coach at Marshall and Ohio universities and at Defiance College. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Defiance and a master’s degree in HPER and special education at Ohio University.
Since his retirement, Carpenter has kept busy as an adjunct instructor in the health, fitness and sport science department. In his free time, he enjoys fishing and spending time with his family.
Tom Reichenbach quarterbacked the 1956 and 1957 football teams to Mid-Ohio League championships and earned two all-league selections. As a freshman, he earned varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and track. In his collegiate career, he was a four-year letter winner in football and baseball and a two-year letter winner in basketball, along with his one letter in track.
He led the 1956 football team to an outstanding season, for which the team is already enshrined in the Athletics Hall of Fame. His most memorable Bluffton sports moment was defeating Findlay, 34-13, in 1956 in front of 6,500 fans at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium.
During his time at Bluffton, Reichenbach was also involved in choir. During his junior and senior years, he sang in an octet that performed at many events in the Bluffton area.
He has been employed with Lincoln National Life as a regional manager, and has also been general manager for the employee benefits division of the Washington, D.C., office.
Reichenbach, of Bethesda, Md., has been an active Lions Club member and officer, as well as a member, choir member and finance committee chair at a local Methodist church.
Harry Weibel lettered in football each of his four years at Bluffton despite playing in only two games in 1955 due to an extended bout with pneumonia. He was chosen All-Mid-Ohio League in 1954, 1956 and 1957, and led the 1956 and 1957 teams to league titles. Weibel was an integral part of the 1956 team—which has already been enshrined in the Athletics Hall of Fame—and a captain of the 1957 squad while earning third-team All-Ohio honors and honorable mention All-America recognition.
While attending Bluffton, Weibel was a member of the Ohio Student Education Association, the “Ista” yearbook staff and Big Brothers. He also served as president of his class and the Varsity B club. He graduated in 1958 with a degree in education.
Weibel continued his education at the Cooper School of Art, where he earned a degree in graphic arts with a specialization in advertising. He then moved to Indiana University and completed his graduate work in art education.
His career has included teaching assignments as well as graphic design positions at Kidron Body Co. and Troyer Signs Inc. in Wayne County, Ohio. Weibel has been active in his community as well, serving as a Sunday school teacher, PTO president, Little League coach and nursing home assistant.
James E. “Buff” Buffenbarger is a 1959 Bluffton graduate in biology education. Buffenbarger was a four-year letter winner on the talented football squads of the late 1950s. He earned all-league honors three times while also picking up one letter in basketball.
While at Bluffton, Buffenbarger was a member of the Student Christian Association, the Varsity B Club and Big Brothers. He continued his education at Indiana University, where he earned his master’s degree in guidance education.
In 1994, Buffenbarger received the Charles Weaver Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the Ohio School Counselor Association after 23 years as a guidance counselor at Lima Senior High School.
Edward B. Coleman graduated from Bluffton in 1986. He was a member of the baseball and football teams and participated in the student exchange program to Mexico. Coleman was a four-year varsity football starter and is among the all-time leading receivers at Bluffton. He was named all-district and all-American.
In 1987, Coleman signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent before a chronic knee injury prematurely ended his football career.
He has since spent time as a correctional program specialist and juvenile parole officer and worked for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Stan held master financial planner status with American Express Financial Advisors Inc. prior to his retirement in 2000. He is a long-time member of the local Lions’ Club, having served three times as president, and recently received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award. In Bluffton, he served as Bluffton United Fund chairman, Mennonite Memorial Home Fund Drive treasurer, Bluffton Family Recreation Board president and Bluffton Child Development Board’s director of finance.
The 1987 Bluffton football team finished a superior season with an 8-2 record under Head Coach Carlin Carpenter. The 1987 squad was ranked No. 1 in NAIA District 22 and No. 10 nationally, and was the first football team to represent Bluffton in the national playoffs. The Beavers averaged 33 points per game and held their opponents to just 15 points a game. Between the 1987 and 1988 teams, more than 75 team and individual records were set at Bluffton, and three of the players continued their football careers by playing professionally in Europe and the United States. Ten players were named to the District 22 first team.
Andy Nowlin graduated from Bluffton in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation management. Nowlin was an outstanding football player offensively as well as a leader on the field. He was a four-year letter winner and earned all-district honors his senior year. He held the NCAA Division III record for longest reception (99 yards) and is at or near the top of the Bluffton record book in numerous offensive categories.
Nowlin is director of recruitment and personnel service for Starr Commonwealth. He has been an active member of the Van Wert, Ohio, American Legion and on the board of directors of Upward Bound and the YMCA Central Ohio Eldon W. Ward Branch, which he has also served as vice-chair. In addition, Nowlin has been active in the Van Wert Optimist Club; tutoring; and the men’s ministry at his church.
After graduation, Richards continued to be active in athletics. He was an assistant football coach at Bluffton in 1981 and from 1993-97. He was a registered track and cross country official for 28 years and spent 15 years as head football coach at four high schools. He has also coached basketball, track and baseball at the high school level.
Richards, superintendent of Allen East Local Schools, served as president of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Board of Directors. He has been an elected member of OHSAA’s Northwest District Athletic Board since 1995, and was a 2002 recipient of the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches’ Distinguished Service Award.
Emil Knorr was a two-sport athlete at Bluffton. Knorr played football all four years and was named honorable mention all-conference in 1955. He was co-captain in 1956, when Bluffton won a conference title with Knorr starting at both fullback and defensive end. He also played baseball for the Beavers and was a two-year letter winner.
In 1968, Knorr received his master’s degree in mathematics from Boston College. He taught at both the high school and collegiate levels, including at Hiram College and the Gilmour Academy.
Louis Stokes, a Belle Center, Ohio, native, was a standout offensive lineman on Bluffton football teams of the early 1970s. In 1972, the four-year letterman helped lead the Beavers to a conference championship and was named first-team all-NAIA District 22. He also lettered one year each in basketball and baseball. A high school coach from 1973-87, he returned to Bluffton as offensive line coach from 1988-2006 and is now the Beavers’ running backs coach and director of academic support. He has been an adjunct instructor at Bluffton as well.
Stokes received a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Bluffton and, in 1983, a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton. He and his wife Melanie live in Ottawa, where he also taught at Ottawa-Glandorf High School from 1979-2005 and was athletic director for three years.
The late Roger Howe enrolled at Bluffton in 1946 after serving in World War II. The Bluffton native played basketball, football and tennis, earning multiple varsity letters. He was named the outstanding athlete of 1947 at Bluffton, where he was also involved in music and theatre, among other campus activities.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1949, Howe embarked on an education career, working as a teacher, coach and principal in Ohio; as superintendent of schools in Ohio and Illinois; and as a faculty member at universities in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri. Along the way, he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University, respectively.
On the football field, Jesse Williams intercepted a Bluffton career-record 18 passes from 1985-88. Seven of those came in 1987—when the Beavers went to the NAIA national playoffs for the first of two consecutive years—and represent the third-most interceptions in a single season at Bluffton. A four-year letter winner, Williams was twice named to the NAIA District 22 first team and was a member of three Bluffton teams—the 1985, 1987 and 1988 Beavers—that have been inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame.
A graduate of Akron East High School, Williams earned his Bluffton degree in recreation management and went on to a career with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Currently director of the north region of the department’s Office of Prisons, he previously served as warden at Allen Correctional Institution and Oakwood Correctional Facility, both in Lima; deputy warden at Mansfield Correctional Institution; and in several positions at Lorain Correctional Institution. He is pastor of Fresh Word Temple in Lima.