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Letters to the editor: Alumni share ’Shoe stories

Readers respond to articles our magazine published about Ohio Stadium’s centennial and Dr. Christina Knight’s work in Navajo Nation in this collection of commentary.


In an old black and white photo, people line up to enter the special entrance of a theatre built on B-Deck of Ohio Stadium
(Stadium Theatre photos from University Archives)

Applause for John Wilce

I enjoyed reading “Imagining an icon,” in the fall issue. However, I am surprised and more than a little dismayed that in the section “Leaders Who Made It Happen,” John Wilce is conspicuously absent.

Coach Wilce, a member of the Ohio State Athletics and College Football halls of fame, was the head football coach at Ohio State from 1913 to 1928. In fact, the success of Coach Wilce’s teams was a key factor in generating the support needed for the new stadium.

The extraordinary Dr. Wilce also was a medical doctor, a professor in Ohio State’s College of Medicine and director of student health services. The Wilce Student Health Center on the Columbus campus is named in his honor.

Andrew McCarthy ’75 Kenilworth, Illinois

Editor’s note: Thank you for noting this oversight. While we had to skip many Ohio Stadium tales due to space constraints, we should have recognized Wilce, who was 25 when he joined Ohio State in 1913 as football coach and physical education professor. He led the Buckeyes for 16 seasons, earning three Big Ten championships along with national attention. In those early years, coaching All-American Chic Harley and leading the Buckeyes to their new home in Ohio Stadium were highlights. Wilce gave up his coaching role in 1928 and returned to the university nine months later as a physician with the Student Medical Service. He became director in 1935 and continued in that role until retiring in 1958.  

Those were some days

Congratulations on the magnificent tribute to the ’Shoe at 100. I know it captures feelings and memories for many Buckeyes!

My mom and dad were there for the 1922 dedication game, when Dad was a sophomore electrical engineering student. In 1939, he took me to my first football game, the homecoming contest against Illinois. I was 8. And in 1940, I was there for the 40–0 loss to Michigan when “Old 98,” Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon, and the rest of the Wolverines prevailed.

I was a Boy Scout usher in high school from 1944 to 1947. My first on-field thrills were as a junior and senior member of the Ohio State Fair Band in high school, followed by my years with The Ohio State University Marching Band from 1948 through 1952 and most of the reunions through 2009. The memories rush in!

Chuck Van Cleve ’52 Palm Desert, California  

Cover for the Snow Bowl

In November of 1950, I was president of Floriculture Forum, an organization of students majoring in floriculture within the College of Agriculture. Our main fundraising effort was to make chrysanthemum corsages the night before every home football game and sell them at the stadium.

On November 25, the day of our famous Snow Bowl game against Michigan, as the storm developed and sales evaporated with every snowflake, two of us decided to give up the effort and make our way to our seats. We brought with us a large, heavy cardboard box that had earlier been filled with corsages. It was a perfect protective cover from the snow and lasted, albeit somewhat soggy, until the end of the game.

I didn’t realize that my future wife, Margaret Anne Lucas ’53, also was at that game. We would meet several months later.

Richard Zoerb ’51 Nashua, New Hampshire  

A portion of a stained glass window shows a Buckeye player rushing with the football

Art worth admiring

I really enjoyed your recent stories on the 100th anniversary of the stadium. Learning about the history of the stadium and its construction was very enlightening, particularly the section “The Crucial Choices that Set Ohio Stadium Apart.”

I was disappointed, however, that the article did not make any mention or have any pictures of the iconic stained-glass windows that adorn the Rotunda. Truly this is something that sets Ohio Stadium apart, and although they are fairly recent additions to the ’Shoe, they are unique and give a special feel to this “sports cathedral.”

Lana Sakash ’97 MSW Hillsboro, Ohio

Editor’s note: We appreciate the opportunity to circle back about these windows. They were added in 2001 as part of a major Ohio Stadium renovation project. The panels measure 12 by 18 feet and weigh 2,000 pounds each. The artwork features a Block O in the center, flanked by offensive and defensive players on either side. They were designed by Eyethink of Powell, Ohio, and created by stained glass artist Tom Cullen. The best time to catch them: when they’re illuminated at night.  

As Bob Hope would say …

Thank you for the fall issue. It brought back many fond memories, especially of Ohio Stadium. I first went there with my dad to watch football games in the mid-1950s while in junior high school. I ran track there at the state high school track meets in the late 1950s.

I lived there in the Stadium Scholarship Dorm as an undergraduate for four years from 1960 to 1964. As a resident, I remember watching TBDBITL practice every fall outside our window and playing basketball under the stands. I could leave my room in Unit M at 1 p.m. and get in my seat at 1:10 p.m. as TBDBITL came down the ramp for the pregame. Then the football game would start at 1:30, as this was before most games were on TV. I recall many of the fellows who lived there (the Stadium Scholarship Dorm was all male then) and much more, but this is enough for now.

I also enjoyed the articles about Dr. Christina Knight, the Global Water Institute and Navajo Nation, as they reminded me of my years as a Peace Corps volunteer and a missionary in Africa. The article on Dr. Katie Seeley was interesting, as I have seen her many times on the “Secrets of the Zoo” TV show on National Geographic Wild. Finally, I thank Irene Hatsu for answering my question, “What is a healthy diet for the elderly?”

As Bob Hope often sang, “Thanks for the memories.”

C. Arthur Mehaffey ’64, ’70 MA Dayton, Ohio  

A little scrap of scarlet

“8 treasures from the ’Shoe‘s first 100 years” brought back a memory from my first year at Ohio State. I commuted and parked next to the stadium. Walking to my car one day, I saw the stadium was open and they were tearing out all of the fake turf. I saw a few students inside, so went in and was able to cut out a piece of the red “O” from the end zone as a souvenir. I wonder if that piece of the scarlet is still in my parents’ basement in Columbus!

Dirk Williams ’94 Brea, California


An open Ohio State Alumni Magazine shows a story headlined "Hearts, minds & bodies" with a photo of a young doctor examining a child.

Read the story // Listen to the story

Doctor’s story offers hope

Your fall issue story and photos of Dr. Christina Knight ’13, ’17 MD were very inspiring. It gives me hope for the future of commitment and compassion to help and understand underserved peoples. At present, that seems to be waning in the United States.

William Betzhold ’71 DDS Richmond, Virginia  

Inspiring to this parent

Thanks for the great story on Christina Knight. It was truly uplifting to read about something good and healing in these times when all the news seems to be about anger and division. I have an adopted son, and I hope he is inspired by Dr. Knight to build a wonderful life of helping others. If I can support her work in my small way, I am happy to do so.

David Gonsalvez ’83 MS, ’86 PhD Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  

Positive stories uplift

I love hearing such positive stories of people giving back to community and others in need.

Peggy Kearney ’15 Pickerington, Ohio Curious to learn more

The Dr. Christina Knight story would have been an even more interesting and informative article if it had given more outcomes to clinical examples. I’m very glad the author included Dr. Knight’s interventions to make sure that the elder had his family around him as he died; very effective.

I would be interested in hearing what Dr. Knight decides about her next professional step. I’m aware of some physicians who served in other rural, underserved areas and decided not to extend their stay. No matter what, I’m glad to know of Dr. Knight, her work and the stress that she managed as she did the work.

I’m appreciating the new website and the articles, plus the print publication that comes to my home address. Thank you! I have contributed to some projects, especially in the mental health area, and am glad to see these receive visibility.

Judith Siehl ’76 Seattle, Washington  

Story elicits pride

Awesome story on Dr. Christina Knight. It makes me proud to be a Buckeye!

Rich Moore San Mateo, California  

Spirit of service applauded

Thank you for sharing Dr. Knight’s inspiring and moving story of courage, advocacy and a compelling spirit of service that is truly monumental!

Susan Bon ’92 JD, ’94 MA, ’96 PhD Columbia, South Carolina  

This tall tale was true

I remember General Shondel’s name as wing commander during my sophomore year in Air Force ROTC. [Read the story: A brigadier general shares his medals.] I had the same experiences he did throughout my four years of AFROTC, except my floor scrubbing at summer camp occurred at the former Lockbourne Air Force Base, now Rickenbacker International Airport, near Columbus.

One interesting experience I had was a C-47 trip for Category 1P (pilot) students from Lockbourne up to Bunker Hill Air Force Base (later named Grissom Air Force Base) in Indiana. The start of the trip was delayed because of an electrical problem in one of the two engines, and I remember that all of us cadets stood around on the tarmac in our parachutes, which the Air Force required for anyone flying in aircraft with two or fewer engines.

Meanwhile, the crew, which included two of our regular Air Force ROTC pilots, “fixed” the problem. We cadets were joking that they put pennies in the electrical fuses on the problem engine. After our bus trip around Bunker Hill, we returned to the plane to come back to Columbus.

As soon as the first engine was started, it burst into flames, and because we students had a better view of the engines than our pilots did, we had to get their attention, and the “bail out” bell was sounded. We all proceeded out the back door of the aircraft as the fire was being extinguished. Another check of the problem was accomplished, and we boarded and returned to Lockbourne.

The bottom line was that we could all tell our fellow cadets we had to bail out of a C-47 in parachutes (even though we were still on the ground at the time)!

Richard Gilgrist ’68 Petoskey, Michigan

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