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ST. MARYS — Three St. Marys alumni joined the ranks of 12 others to be inducted into the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame.
J. Paul VanderHorst, John D. Kuenzel and Robert W. Reed were the fifth class to be inducted into the hall of fame during the annual event Saturday evening at the St. Marys Eagles.
In 2006, the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation was established as a charitable organization with two goals, President Bill Kellermeyer told those assembled at the Eagles. The first goal was to build an endowment through the St. Marys Community Foundation to support the educational programs and activities or future renovation and construction projects for the St. Marys City Schools. The second was to establish, administer and maintain a hall of fame.
“The inaugural inductees set the standard for our future inductees,” Kellermeyer said. “The other classes set a standard as well, and I think these inductees set the same.”
Kellermeyer introduced each inductee with a biography on his life.
For academic/professional achievement, VanderHorst was part of the class of 1947. He was a fullback on the 1944 and 1945 teams. He studied at the University of Dayton, where he was recognized as an All-Ohio defensive lineman. He graduated from Dayton with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He briefly played for the Los Angeles Rams but returned to St. Marys to be with his family.
VanderHorst worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Fuller Brush Company and Pennsylvania Life Insurance Company. With Penn Life, he made his subsidiary the largest of the company and eventually became vice chairman of the board. He received the T.D. Bain Award from Penn Life — one of only three individuals who have received the honor.
VanderHorst has also been involved with the Boy Scouts of America, is a championship skeet shooter and as president of the clubs, as well as the benefactor to financial commitments and scholarships, including the Eugene L. “Skip” Baughman Scholarship.
“Mr. VanderHorst has made it very clear that although he has experienced great success in his career, the greatest successes in his life are his wife, Janet, his seven children, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the family and friends he has made over the span of his life,” Kellermeyer said.
“It is for his lifetime of achievement as an athlete, community leader and successful and respected businessman that Mr. J. Paul VanderHorst is inducted into the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame for academic/professional achievement.”
VanderHorst’s sons, Terry and Rick accepted the plaque on behalf of their father. Terry VanderHorst read a note from a book his mother and father had penned, in which VanderHorst had honored his wife and thanked the foundation for honoring his father.
Rick VanderHorst congratulated the Kuenzel and Reed families for also sharing the stage, and he noted something his father had told him.
“We live two lives,” he said. “There’s the life that you learn with, and then there’s the life that you live after you learn, and many times we receive recognition for the life that we live after we learn, but tonight is really about honoring the life that we learn from. My experience is that great things have been built on solid foundations and looking at my father’s accomplishments you can see that growing up in St. Marys has had an immeasurable impact on his character, his view of what’s right and wrong and his priorities in life.”
Rick VanderHorst noted his father growing up during the Depression and his ongoing support from his family. He noted the importance of education in the VanderHorst family, noting VanderHorst was the first person in his family to obtain a college degree, as well as what athletics had taught his father.
“Tonight and tonight’s award consequently is really not so much about him but a reflection of St. Marys as a community,” Rick VanderHorst said. “Because of my father’s accomplishments, they’re nothing more than a reflection of the values, principles and lessons learned while growing up here. And although my dad’s received a lot of awards, and he’s certainly carried a number of titles — CEO, vice chairman of the board, president, hall of famer — I can assure you that the title he carries closest to his heart is that of a Roughrider.”
Next, Kellermeyer introduced Kuenzel for the athletic achievement inductee. Kuenzel, a member of the class of 1956, played football, basketball and baseball for St. Marys. He went on to the United States Air Force Academy after graduation, where he played the same three sports. After graduating, Kuenzel went into pilot training, where he was part of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War.
Upon retirement, he worked for the contractor who is now known as Lockheed Martin. He also worked for Wells Fargo and is now retired.
“Despite his tremendous athletic success amidst a lifetime of great achievement, Mr. Kuenzel is quick to point to and heap praise upon the many great teammates, of equal or greater talent, at Memorial and the Academy that contributed to his or the team’s ultimate success,” Kellermeyer said. “Humility in the midst of great success and achievement is a trademark of Roughrider greatness. To paraphrase Coach (John) Stuckey, it is for John’s all-around great athletic ability and tremendous achievement that John D. Kuenzel is inducted into the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame for athletic achievement.”
Kuenzel told three stories to the ceremony’s attendees Saturday evening — how the St. Marys fire truck has a relationship with the school’s basketball team, how he went from going to West Point to the Air Force Academy and how he got a second chance with the woman he married.
“We’ve lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 30 years, and we love it, and I’m very happy to have been here, shared this experience with everybody,” Kuenzel said. “It’s a lot of old friends who I haven’t seen in many years.”
Kuenzel’s former basketball coach at St. Marys, John Stuckey, also attended on Saturday and said a few words about his former player.
“I can truthfully say that John Kuenzel was the most all-around athlete I ever saw,” Stuckey said. “He was just tremendous at all of the sports in St. Marys — he’s deserving of all of that.”
He compared Kuenzel to be on par with Ara Parseghian, a coach at Miami, Northwestern and Notre Dame.
“John to be considered one of two guys, that’s not too bad,” Stuckey said. “You just were a great athlete, one that I admired, and even though it’s about 55 years ago, it seems like it was just yesterday.”
Lastly, Kellermeyer introduced Reed, the service to St. Marys City Schools inductee. Reed, a member of the class of 1922, served the district for 14 years as a teacher and coach. As the head football coach for the district, Cowboy Bob Reed was noted as leading his young men called “Roughriders,” giving the school its main identity and trademark. In addition to netting the school multiple football championships, Reed was responsible for pursuing funding for a new stadium and building Memorial Stadium, now known as Skip Baughman Stadium.
Reed left Memorial High School in 1940 to serve the United States Army. During his service he traveled around the world and nation, eventually retiring from active duty in 1959. He then went back to teaching, this time in Cincinnati.
“Upon retirement from teaching, Mr. Reed retired to his Montana ranch where he continued his love for the outdoors,” Kellermeyer said. “However, his daughters, Mary and Nancy, note that even though his service took him away from St. Marys and he traveled the world, the Reed family maintained property in St. Marys and St. Marys remained close to Robert W. Reed’s heart. Upon his death in 1992, Col. Robert W. Reed was returned to St. Marys where he was laid to rest in Elm Grove Cemetery. It is for his positive service to St. Marys City Schools and the lasting impact that his service to the St. Marys City Schools has had on the school system and the greater St. Marys community that Col. Robert W. Reed, the father of St. Marys football, is inducted into the St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation Hall of Fame.”
To accept their father’s plaque, Mary Reed Lyon and Nancy Reed McCullough spoke to attendees, with Reed Lyon speaking first.
Reed Lyon introduced the members of the Reed family in attendance.
“We want to thank you, St. Marys Memorial High School Alumni Foundation, for honoring our father, Robert Reed,” Reed Lyon said.
“The foundation’s goal of supporting education is admirable. Your recognition of past inductees helps bring history to life and joy to the recipients and their families. It provides examples for young people and models they can follow.”
Reed Lyon noted she went for her first eight years of school in St. Marys, before the family moved to Europe to follow her father. She mentioned the Armory, as well, where her father had became in officer in the National Guard.
“Dad loved to reminisce about St. Marys,” Reed Lyon said. “The people here who influenced him, friends, students and the persons he coached.”
She noted a story her father told about when he was a chemistry teacher and the school shook for an earthquake — he thought he had mixed the wrong chemicals for an experiment.
“When he was ready to retire from the Army, there was no question about it. He would return to Ohio and his choice was St. Marys.”
Reed Lyon said, however, that her mother’s health and her interest in music moved the family to Cincinnati.
“Although Bob Reed never returned to live in St. Marys, he took St. Marys with him throughout the world, and every time he returned to St. Marys, he was coming home,” she said.
Reed McCullough spoke next about her father — noting her father and his brother Walter both played for the first St. Marys football team and a memory of when the brothers couldn’t play a game because they had to help their father in the fields. She also noted her father’s research to build a stadium — using a Columbus school’s plans to build the stadium — and the death of her older brother, Bobby, who had TB of the bone, at the age of three.
“My dad said the players on his team made a big difference in his life at that time,” Reed McCullough said.
“He often said, ‘Those boys played their hearts out and gave above and beyond their normal ability.’ He had heard them say, ‘Let’s go out there and win one for the coach,’ and they did. It was such a comfort to my dad as he was losing his little boy that he had the support from these young men about whom he cared so much. I always think of this as the St. Marys version of let’s go out and win one for the gipper.”
She also noted that near the end of his life, Reed wanted to come back and see the Roughriders play for the last time. The two were told the game was sold out, and on their way out of the building, they ran into the then high school principal Quentin Clark who asked them what they were doing in town and the two told him the news.
Clark tracked them down and told them Ned Lawler was going to give them his tickets to the game. At the game, they announced Reed was there and where he was sitting, so many of his old friends, former players and men who had served with him in the Army came to his seat and reminisced.
“I honestly don’t think dad would have ever left St. Marys would it not have been for World War II,” she said.
“All of our lives whenever my dad or my mother or my sister or I fill out those important papers in life, it is with great pride, love and wonderful memories that will fill out that line about place of birth with St. Marys, Ohio.”
A plaque for each of the recipients will be placed in the hall of fame location outside the auditorium at the high school. Kellermeyer noted the 2012 hall of fame game will be against Wapakoneta on Oct. 5, with the induction to follow on Oct. 6.