In the words of a schoolmate, Russ Hepner has “always been a strong friend, athlete & scholar.” During his SHS years, Russ played football, basketball, baseball & ran track, earning ten varsity letters. He once scored 46 points in a basketball game and received the school’s 1958 Senior Athlete of the Year Award.
Russ was awarded a football scholarship to Bowling Green where he was a three-year starter on teams that went 25-3. He earned all Mid-American Conference honors in 1959 and 1961 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1962.
Russ began his teaching and coaching career in 1962 at Mansfield Malabar where he coached football and basketball and taught health and physical education. While there he earned a master’s degree at Xavier University.
In 1967 Russ left Mansfield to coach football at Western Michigan University. In 1968 he married Stephany Bogner, an Ohio State University graduate, of Mansfield. That same year he was hired to teach and serve as head football coach in Michigan at Grosse Point South High School. Russ taught there for 32 years, coached for 23 years and served as department chairperson for Grosse Point Schools for 20 years. His football teams went 143-69 and won 10 league championships. The Detroit Free Press named him coach of the year in both 1982 and 1983. He coached in the 1984 Michigan East-West High School All-Star Game. In 1988 he was inducted into Michigan’s High School Football Coach’s Hall of Fame.
In retirement Russ and Stephany moved to Shelby in 2000. In 2008 he served as chairperson for the Class of 1958 during the campaign to fund the Harryet Snyder Memorial Science Center. Their son Chad, a Michigan State graduate, teaches and coaches. Their daughter Kim Van Almen, a Wittenberg graduate, also teaches.
Russ and Stephany have six grandchildren, ranging in age from 9 to 2. They all live in Michigan and, to be closer to them, Russ and Stephany recently returned to Michigan where they live in Shelby Township.
Nominator: Bob Cassity ’59.