Bill Varble is a native of Louisville, Kentucky but has spent the vast majority of his life in Ohio – a life dedicated to teaching and coaching. During his youth, Mr. Varble worked various jobs, including at Coca Cola and the Louisville Slugger Company. While in junior high, he met a girl, Bette Rudolph, who attended an all-girls school. After graduating from Louisville’s Male High School, Mr. Varble went to Wittenberg University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. While at Wittenberg, Mr. Varble married Bette, fathered two children (Ked SHS ’70 and Denise SHS ’72), worked 40 hours a week in a factory, carried a full load of classes and was a standout in football, basketball, baseball and track.
After graduating in 1954 Mr. Varble accepted a teaching position in Shelby. He recalls telling Bette that they would stay for only a few years. Today he marvels, “Those few years turned into fifty-four years!” Mr. Varble taught science, biology and physical education at Shelby Junior High and SHS, and he and Bette brought two more sons – Todd ’77 and Brad ’82 – into the world.
He also invested untold hours coaching football and track. In football, he served as an assistant coach from 1954-1972. He then served as head football coach from 1973-1984, winning four NOL titles and compiling a record of 90 wins, 29 losses and a tie. In total, at SHS, as both a head and assistant coach in football and track, he was part of 23 NOL championships. Mr.Varble also dreamed of SHS having an all-weather track and was instrumental in working to secure passage in 1967 of the first, and only, bond levy in Shelby for an athletic facility. The 1968 Scarlet S yearbook was dedicated to him. Mr. Varble retired in 1986.
Over the years Mr. Varble dedicated countless hours not only to teaching the fundamentals of sports, but also helping boys grow into responsible, productive adults. The effects of his approach can be seen in the large number of former students who keep in touch with him. He continues to support former players by attending games where they coach and sports in which their children participate.
In 2001, Mr. Varble was inducted into Louisville, Kentucky, Male High School’s Hall of Honor. On October 29, 2005, he was inducted into Wittenberg’s Athletics Hall of Honor. In 2007 the new scoreboard at Skiles Field was dedicated in his honor. Observes an alum, “Mr. Varble combined competitiveness with compassion and set high standards for expectations and performance that taught lasting lessons and helped hundreds of youngsters prepare for adulthood.”
After retiring from teaching and coaching in 1986, Mr. Varble and Bette spent many hours involved with First United Methodist Church. Bette was in charge of altar flowers, and Mr. Varble served 14 years as Sunday School Superintendent and today jokes that he has “dishpan hands from being the head dishwasher for meals served at the church.” He also spent six years with the YMCA’s Invest In Youth Program. He credits his success “to the unending love and support of Bette, who recently lost a long and valiant fight with cancer, and the rest of my family.” He lives in Shelby.
Nominator: Harryet Snyder, former SHS biology teacher. Presenter: Ked Varble ’70.