June 17, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – The jarring sadness of the 1970 Marshall football team plane crash still reverberates far beyond this university city.
One of those places is on Montgomery Road in Cincinnati, at another school renowned for football championships, Moeller High School.
The 1968 Moeller graduating class lost three Herd juniors in the November 1970 tragedy – lineman Mark Andrews, quarterback Bob Harris and wide receiver Jack Repasy. Their high school coach was the famed Gerry Faust, who had a memorial to his late Herd recruits hung in the Crusaders’ locker room.
“It was a nice thing, but after a while we wanted to do more,” said John Widmeyer of Loveland, Ohio, a teammate and classmate of those three who died that foggy, misty night. “It was a tragedy, something that was really upsetting to us, and especially difficult for the families.”
There was talk of creating a scholarship in the trio’s names or perhaps a memorial, but Widmeyer said that after he saw the film, “We Are … Marshall,” he and some of those classmates and teammates decided more needed to be done to keep alive the memories of Repasy, Harris and Andrews at their high school.
“I asked if we could do a memorial in a hallway, and we were told we could, but what we wanted to do would cost us about $1,000, and there wasn’t money in the budget for that,” Widmeyer said.
So, the information technology business owner-turned sales manager decided to stage a golf tournament in the late players’ honor. The fourth Moeller/Marshall Memorial Golf Outing will be played Sept. 15 at Sharon Woods Golf Course in Cincinnati.
The memorial for the three players who are now “in God’s hands,” as the inscription says, went up in a Moeller corridor, where students today can see it and ask questions and learn about the Herd men who died.
That accomplished, Widmeyer said, “Then we decided to do it again with a golf outing the next year, and wondered what we’d do with the money.”
So, they decided to create a scholarship for an incoming MHS freshman. Then, at the suggestion of retired MHS baseball Coach Mike Cameron, “he suggested we try to create a scholarship for a Moeller student who graduated and went to Marshall,” Widmeyer said. “We really liked that idea.
“The local Marshall alumni group also really got behind it, and they’ve even entered a few people into the golf outing.”
The golf fundraiser has mushroomed from 48 golfers the first year to a field of more than 90. It has famously included current U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, a 1968 classmate of Widmeyer and the three Herd players.
“But the difficulty we’ve had,” admitted Widmeyer, “is finding a Moeller student who would go to Marshall. There’s hasn’t been one. Marshall hadn’t really been on the radar at Moeller, for whatever reason.
“Meanwhile, the last two years we’re collecting money and really not living up to what we said we were going to do, but we were trying.”
So, Widmeyer went to Moeller high President William Hunt and asked if they could change the deal. If no Moeller student went to Marshall, could the 1968 graduating classmates make a donation directly to Marshall for scholarships to honor Harris, Repasy and Andrews?
Widmeyer said the Moeller president looked into whether that would be allowable from the golf outing funds that rest with the Moeller alumni association. “The president came back to me and said if the check were made in memory of the three who lost their lives, we could do it,” Widmeyer said.
So, that’s what happened.
And when the Big Green Coaches Tour made its June 10 stop for its own golf event in Cincinnati, the Moeller/Marshall Memorial men made a $1,000 check presentation to the Cincinnati chapter of the Big Green Scholarship Foundation.
“We probably raise a couple of thousand (dollars) a year,” Widmeyer said. “If we had a Moeller student go to Marshall in the future, yes, we could do a scholarship for them. What we wanted was to live up to what we said, with scholarship money to Marshall, and to honor our teammates and classmates, Mark and Bob and Jack.
“The Moeller connection with Marshall has always been there for us.”