William E. Varble

William E. Varble

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.

Joe Yetzer ’24

Joe Yetzer

A lifetime of service to Shelby and its residents and a stellar football career are the legacy of Joe Yetzer ’24. In 1961, Joe was named to the Shelby Jaycees’ all time Whippet football team. A 1923 Daily Globe account cited Joe as a “triple threat”: he punted, filled in as quarterback and starred at halfback. Before the 1923 Shelby-Mansfield game, a Globe story reported that word around Mansfield was “Get Yetzer.” Joe dashed 70-yards for a first quarter score. In the second quarter, Joe couldn’t find room to punt so “he tucked the ball under his arm and raced through the entire Mansfield team 60 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the swift Whippet “aggravated them by swimming through 50 yards of mud for a third touchdown.” The 1923 team went undefeated, scoring 211 points; Joe scored 96 of them.

The summer Joe graduated, he worked as a laborer on the new Most Pure Heart of Mary Church. Because of his small size, he was chosen to work in the tunnels under the church as the massive stone pillars were installed. Joe went to Dayton on a football scholarship but rheumatic fever ended his football career. He then began developing a distinguished career in the electricity power generation industry. He worked for Ohio Power for 18 years, constructing  and maintaining substations. In 1945 Joe joined the Shelby Power Company and rose to superintendent of electrical distribution, retiring in 1973.

With a passion for woodworking, Joe built his own lathe to turn out beautiful furniture and specialty items including a set of large cherry candlesticks for St. Mary’s Church which are still used. He was president of the local Union of Operating Engineers, a member of the Knights of Columbus and a charter member of the Elks Lodge. Joe married Catharine Keller, who attended Sacred Heart School in the Shelby Settlement and Wooster Business  School.  They were married for 60 years before Joe died in 1990. Catharine was 102 when she died. Joe’s children include Joan Catharine Yetzer Ashley ’50, John Martin Yetzer ’52, David Joseph Yetzer ’55 and Joseph “Lee” Yetzer ’58 who died in 2008. Standing in for Joe for the  induction ceremony are: Joan Yetzer Ashey ’50, John Yetzer ’52 and Dave Yetzer ’55

Joe’s nominator: Christina Lynn Yetzer Drain ’75.

Harold Bliss Jr. ’39

Harold Bliss, Jr.

Harold Bliss, Jr. was born on January 22, 1920 in Shelby, Ohio. Harold (he much preferred to be called Bliss and we will gladly oblige him here) was the only son of Etta and Harold Bliss. Growing up he spent time riding bikes and getting into mischief as many boys did in those days.

When he started as a freshman at Shelby High in 1935, Bliss found a focus for all of his youthful energy and quickly became a standout  in both track and football.  Bliss loved  the competitive  nature of sports.  What he did not  like was losing. Not that he experienced the bitter taste of defeat very often. For three years straight, Bliss was named the All-North Central Ohio Conference running back, and in 1938 the Shelby High Whippets went undefeated, beating Mansfield Senior High and winning the NCO title.

Bliss set the school record in the 100-yard dash – 10.0 seconds. He made a long-standing offer: He would buy a steak dinner for any Whippet who could beat his 10.0. That record remained unbeaten until the 100-yard dash was replaced by the 100 meters.

With an athletic scholarship, Bliss headed to Mississippi State in Starkville. His goal: earning a degree  in physical education. His college life was much like high school. He studied hard but focused on athletics, exce1ling at both track and football.

Whenever Bliss made it back to Shelby, he made sure to check on how the football team was faring without him. Bliss loved to tell the story of how he came home one weekend and headed over to Skiles Field with his buddies to catch a Friday night game. As he watched the Whippets struggle to gain yardage (and possibly after a few sips of whiskey), Bliss decided it was up to him to give his alma mater a bit of help. Leaving his friends in the stands, Bliss darted onto the field and tackled the opposing team’s runner.

In 1942, with war raging across Europe, Bliss left Mississippi State just one year short of graduation and headed to Ft. Polk in Louisiana to begin his Army basic training. On completion, Bliss was assigned to recruiting offices across the country. He would often say it was because of his charm and, of course, his All-American good looks. It was during a recruiting trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota that he met his future wife, Allison Reid. After finishing the recruitment  tour, Bliss was posted to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina where he qualified as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and then was reassigned to the 101st Airborne Division, known as the screaming eagles for its distinctive arm patch. It was during his time at Ft. Bragg that Bliss once again bumped into Allison Reid, whose family had moved from North Dakota to North Carolina. They married in March of 1943, and daughter Linda was born a year later.

Bliss was soon sent to England and made his first combat jump in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944- D-Day – onto a drop zone located midway between St. Mere Eglise and Utah Beach, just inland from the St. Martin de Varreville coastal battery. His unit’s mission was to silence the battery. But Bliss landed in a hedgerow outside of St. Mere Eglise and was fired upon while hanging from his chute. He suffered multiple bullet wounds to his side. After being freed, Bliss was unable to find his unit. He carried on until a booby-trapped German “88” gun blew up and nearly took off his right leg. Bliss was left behind, considered dead, until an Army private found him unconscious and carried him to a field hospital. Evacuated, he remained in an English hospital for the next year. Upon his return to the States he was awarded the Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters. His unit was awarded a Presidential Citation.

Bliss began suffering from “battle fatigue” – what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In 1948 he and Allison added daughter Sara Lee to their family. In speaking with a doctor about his battle fatigue, the doctor asked Bliss to recall a fond memory from his childhood. He remembered riding the old work horses on his grandfather’s farm. The doctor suggested that by reconnecting with horses, Bliss might find that peace again.

As with everything in his life, Bliss dove into his work with horses head first and became a first-class horseman and involved the whole family in his newfound passion. Both Linda and Sara Lee became excellent riders. He was instrumental in starting the Richland County Mounted Police group. As some of his friends talked to him about troubles they were having with their sons, Bliss figured if horses had saved him from himself, maybe they would help these young men as well.

While working at Ohio Seamless Tube, he used his free time to become a guiding force for local youth who needed an outlet in their lives – someone to look up to and admire. By teaching them to care for horses, he taught responsibility. By teaching them to ride, they learned focus and dedication. By teaching them to show horses, they were able to earn respect and find pride in their hard work.

Bliss continued to work with horses and youth in the Shelby area long after his daughters had married and moved away. During all of  these years, he rarely missed a football game or track meet at Shelby High, taking up his usual spot  at the end of the field, leaning against the fence. After Allison’s death in 1993, Bliss spent much of his time in the warmer temperatures of Florida until he passed away on July 3, 2000. He left behind his daughters, Linda and Sara Lee, as well as Sara Lee’s children, Jason and Carrie. The family was overwhelmed with cards and letters recalling fond memories of Bliss and the impact he had on so many lives.

Standing in for the late Harold Bliss at the induction will be his daughters: Linda Bliss Regel ’62 and Sara Bliss Enders ’66 Nominator: Linda Bliss Regel ’62.

Joan Arrington

Joan Arrington

A 1944 Willard High School graduate, Joan Arrington taught at SHS for 30 years, from 1954-1984. Before coming to SHS, she taught one year at Willard High School and for two years taught sixth grade in Attica, Ohio. She is a graduate of Heidelberg College. The 1974 Scarlet S was dedicated to her. Observes a former student, “She treated her students as adults, as long as they behaved in that manner. I felt she was giving us respect, and most of us felt obligated to return that respect. It wasn’t difficult, as Joan earned her title, ‘teacher,’ every day. I never saw her slack off – never. She prepared me well for college. I never took an essay test when Joan was not there helping in some small or large way. Finally, and importantly, I realized only these last few months that Joan had helped me become a better teacher. I, like her, give it my most sincere effort every day. What the heck, I learned from the best.” Said another alum, “Wow! What an impression she made. Tough, fair and always prodding her students. She’s one reason I went to journalism and public relations school. One tough cookie but what a teacher.” Joan Arrington passed away unexpectedly on September 3, 2006 at her home in Willard.

Faith Robertson ’09

Faith Robertson

From early youth Faith Robertson ’09 found her life’scalling and has been pursuing it with both diligence and passion.While at SHS Faith ran cross country and track (team captain in both sports for two years each), played basketball, served as vice president of Student Council, president of Key Club and helped edit the Scarlet S. She was voted homecoming queen,named a delegate to Buckeye Girls State and was class valedictorian. She then graduated with high honors from Duke University she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry and, with her future career firmly in mind, wrote her honors thesis on the role of metabolism in therapeutic resistance to breast cancer. Next came a research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute where she investigated the role of natural killer T cells in tumor immunosuppression. Afterward she entered Harvard University’s Medical School where she earned her M.D. in 2019. Her specialty: neurosurgery. She delayed graduating one year so that she could work in the Philippines while completing her master’s degree in global health and global surgery from King’s College London. Next comes a seven-year residency in neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Currently she also is leading the Association of Women Surgeons National Medical Student Committee that has members in 21 countries. Faith makes time to remain fit, having completed seven marathons and one triathlon. Observes a fellow SHS alum, “Faith stands out as a stellar example of a Shelby High graduate who has been building on her academic foundation in a way that serves the greater good.”

Tyler Stepsis ’94

Tyler Stepsis

From the rough and tumble of gridirons and wrestling mats to classroom excellence, Tyler Stepsis ’94 embarked on a career that would find him saving lives amid the direst of circumstances.  While at SHS Tyler was a standout in football, wrestling and track.  Following graduation he went on to earn a bachelor’s in chemistry at Wittenberg University.  While there he played football, was a student athletic trainer, did a work-study program in athletic training, served as a tutor in chemistry for three years and as president of the Student Senate Hearing Board for two years.  Tyler was then accepted into the University of Cincinnati’s Medical School.  While there he was recognized with several awards, including some presented by classmates.  He also taught classes for interns, was his graduating class’ commencement speaker and presented the Golden Apple Award to the teacher who was most highly regarded by students.  He also made time to serve as a trackside physician at Indy-style races.  Upon earning his medical degree, Tyler received his first “match” or preferred hospital.  In 2002 that led him to Indianapolis where he began his career as an emergency medicine resident.  His work in ER care led in 2017 to his being named medical director of the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department at the Sidney & Lois Eskenaze Hospital in Indianapolis.  Observes a fellow alum, “Tyler is a classic example of a young man who received an excellent foundation at SHS and went on to a career serving the greater good.”

Michele Black Abrams ’69

Michele Black Abrams

For Michele Black Abrams ’69, life has been about educating, inspiring and leading – in classrooms, communities and business. The roots of her diverse achievements can be seen in the range of her involvements while at SHS: Student Council, class officer for three years, American Legion award for outstanding female student, member of Top Ten Percent Honors group, legislator at Buckeye Girls State, Whippet Band majorette all four years, member of State superior-rated concert band and choir, member of Mel-o-ettes girls ensemble, and a participant in theatrical productions.

After graduating from SHS, Shelly earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Miami University where she also did graduate work. For more than a decade Shelly served as an educator, teaching in Cincinnati-area high schools. She then spent 11 years working to spur business growth as vice president of the Middletown Area/Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce. While there she won the Ohio Leadership Award for Community Leadership Development.

In the business arena she also worked in community affairs for AK Steel Corporation. Shelly has been deeply involved in community activities, often taking on leadership positions. She has chaired and/or served on many community Boards, including American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Lebanon Mini Festival, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Area Artists Series and Middletown Area Safety Council. Shelly lives in Lebanon, Ohio.

Dave Gump ’51

Dave Gump

Dave Gump ’51 built a business career that created jobs for many American workers. First, though, Dave distinguished himself on the gridiron. Later he did likewise at college, in the military, software development and business leadership. While at SHS, Dave played football – earning All-NOL honors – and basketball and ran track. He fondly remembers the faculty. “All, all SHS teachers were very good,” says Dave. “Good skills, good people.” He cites Coach Bill Wilkins and Marie Hughes as being particularly inspiring. After graduating he headed to Wittenberg, but the military beckoned and Dave soon found himself in the Army in Korea. After the war, with time remaining on his tour of duty, he was transferred to Japan where once again he played football, for an Army team. Returning to the States, Dave accepted an offer from Miami University where he played freshman football (wide receiver and defensive back) and then earned a psychology degree. He then began a business career that included working for RCA, Crucible Steel, General Foods Corp., Malden Mills and consulting firms. Beginning in 1976 and continuing for the next 17 years, Dave worked at Bell & Howell. While there he led the company through technology change from producing parts and service documentation on microfilm to electronic capture, reproduction and distribution for CD-ROM-based computer systems and opened markets in Europe and Japan. Dave’s work was recognized and respected and he finished his career as chairman and chief executive officer of Bell & Howell’s Publication Systems Division. He now divides time between Rhode Island and Florida.

John Seltzer 1893

John Seltzer

John Seltzer 1893 was an adventurer, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose legacy became one of the most recognized products in Shelby history  the Shelby bicycle. 

John was the only male in his SHS graduating class of five.  His commencement oration on “Common Sense” was said to have taken his audience “by storm,” according to the Shelby Times. 

After graduation he followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful businessman at Seltzer & Steele hardware store; the name was changed to Seltzer & Sons.  In 1910 John and his family left Shelby for Saskatchewan Valley, Canada.  He and his father bought 650 acres which John would farm and eventually develop.  They lived there 10 years.  Returning to Shelby he bought half interest in the J.C. Morris Elevator, and the name was changed to Morris & Seltzer Coal & Grain. He also opened an automotive paint shop and 75-bay car storage in a renovated horse barn on Wall Street; in those days few homes had garages.

In 1924 John began working at the Shelby Cycle Co. where his father Joe was president.  When Joe died in 1929, John succeeded as president.  Already 54, he served 16 years as president during the company’s most prosperous period.  He retired in 1945.  The company had kept hundreds of workers employed during the Great Depression.  John also was a philanthropist, raising money for the Shelby Hospital, Shelby Country Club, a YMCA youth group, and amenities for Seltzer Park.  He also organized many civic events  auto shows, July 4th parades, Halloween parties.  In his retirement years John helped with sales at Seltzer Electric Company and doing projects including creating Whippet figure wind vanes for Skiles Field. He died in 1962. 

Nominator: Christina Yetzer Drain

Roger W. Adam ’39

Roger W. Adam

A life-long resident of Shelby, Roger Adam attended one-room schools for eight years. He attended grades 1-4 at the Marsh Run school at the comer of Shoup Road and Route 61 north of Shelby. For grades 5-8 he attended Landis School on East Smiley which today serves as a home. While at SHS Roger was class president for three years and represented the school at Buckeye Boys State in 1938.

After graduating he entered Heidelberg College on a government-sponsored program that led Roger to becoming a nitrator – mixer of chemicals – in making explosives for bombs. A desire to fly led Roger to enroll in the government’s VS program. The program required his attending flight schools around the country and he graduated – and was commissioned an ensign – from Corpus Christi Naval Air Station in Texas. He was certified as a pilot, navigator and bombardier.

During World War II Roger flew four-engine patrol bombers. “Our mission was not bombing land targets,” he explains, “but Japanese warships and supply vessels.” He and his crew flew from bases on several islands including Iwo Jima. They took on Japanese Zeros, sank a Japanese vessel and searched for down American flight crews forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. He flew cover for the surrender of Japanese forces on Truck Island. Roger was promoted to Lieutenant JG in 1945 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two stars and other campaign decorations.

He was released from active military duty in 1946 and in 1947 married Catherine (Katie) Sheridan. They have three children: Dennis ’68 of Shelby, Mary Ann Vaughan ’74 of California and Melinda Berdanier ’76 of South Dakota. He and Katie, members of Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, also have five grandchildren.

Roger has been active in community endeavors. He as served on the boards of Rehabilitation Services of North Central Ohio, United Fund of Shelby, Shelby Girl Scout Little House, Girl Scout Council of Mansfield and St. Mary’s Cemetery. He also served as a Little League baseball coach and courier for Shelby Memorial Hospital for 22 years. He and Katie delivered Meals On Wheels for many years and were recipients of the Jess Rath Christian Volunteer Service Award.

Roger worked 36 years at Miller Shelby Products which experiened several name changes and became Quanex. Roger completed his career as director of industrial relations.

Nominator: Don Chew ’40. Presenter: Dennis Adam ’68.