J.R. Bishop ‘61
One of the most prolific scorers in Franklin football history, J.R. was an exciting runner and excellent kicker. His values of the football teams for 1957-60 were many. A great open field-runner, fine punter, and consistent PAT kicker, Bishop earned the state scoring crown in 1960, racking up 112 points. At one time, Bishop held seven different scoring and rushing records. In his senior year, J.R. was named the Little All-American Academic Football Team.
Following graduation, he went to Franklin Community High School where his squads compiled a 36-24-3 mark over a seven year period. In 1969 he took the reins of the football program at Lawrence High School (Indianapolis). Last season his Lawrence Central team finished a perfect 10-0-0 season.
J.R. is now in demand as a lecturer at football clinics throughout the nation.
William E. “Spud” Campbell ’20
Earning varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and track, William Campbell was one of the most important athletic figures on the Franklin Campus during WWI era. “Spud”, as he was known throughout his playing and coaching days, also served as team captain in three of those sports- football, basketball, and baseball.
After graduation, Campbell spent some time playing semi-pro baseball and even had a brief fling with the New York Giants.
He enjoyed great coaching success at Hammond High School where his basketball team racked up four consecutive sectional victories. The 1993 Hammond team went all the way to the Finals of the High School Tournament before they were ousted by Indianapolis Tech, a team coached by “Spud’s” brother, Tim.
H. Dean Evans ’51
Coming to Franklin after being named the Outstanding Athlete at Indianapolis Tech High School in 1947, Dean Evans was destined to earn a similar award at the college level. In 1951, he was named recipient of the Wil B. Nelp Trophy after an athletic career which saw him letter in four sports (football, basketball, baseball and track).
“Deaner’s” greatest accomplishments were on the track where he set Franklin College and Hoosier College Conference records in the 100 and 200 yard dashes. His 100 yard dash mark was broken only last year (1974) and his 200 yard mark of 22.0 seconds stands as the school’s oldest track record.
A cum laude undergraduate student, Evans served in the U.S. Army where he continued his athletic ways, participating in football, basketball, baseball, and (of course) track. In 1952 and 1953 he was the 5th Army champion in both the 100 and 220 yard dashes.
Following a successful and well-rounded teaching and coaching career, Dean became Dr. Evans when he received his doctorate from Indiana University in 1966. He is now Superintendent of Schools for the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township (Indianapolis).
Burl R. Friddle ’25
One of the rare winners of sixteen varsity letters (4 each in football, basketball, baseball, and track), Burl Friddle is best remembered for his role as a member of the Wonder Five. An All-State on the 1920 Franklin High School basketball team, he moved on to Franklin College where he was a standout on the famed “Griz” Wagner aggregate.
Friddle was as successful a coach as he was a player. After coaching a state championship basketball team at Ft. Wayne South High School in 1938, he moved on to Toledo University where he served as basketball coach for three years. His 1942 Toledo team was a semi-finalist of the National Invitational Tournament. In 1943, Friddle was named Athletic Director at Toledo. He was also coach of the professional Indianapolis Jets basketball team for one year.
Before retirement, Burl worked for 30 years as an agent for the Indianapolis Life Insurance Company.
Ralph Isselhardt ‘36
Although the years from 1932-36 were dark Depression days for many, fall Saturday at Franklin were made quite a bit brighter for Franklin football fans because of the bone-crunching antics of All-State (3 years) tackle Ralph Isselhardt. His playing career included some professional sessions with the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Rams.
Isselhardt served his country as a Lt. Commander in the Naval Air Force during World War II. After the war, he held many executive positions with Cities Service Oil Company before his retirement in 1972.
William E. “Willie” Kingsolver ’22
The Indianapolis Star’s 1920 All-Indiana College Football Eleven listed as its quarterback one “Willie” Kingsolver of tiny Franklin College. Simply being listed on a dream team which included four Notre Dame standouts would have been a tremendous honor in itself, but the Star went on to describe Kingsolver as “the greatest football player in the state this year…There isn’t a backfield man in the state who can hold a candle to him.”
Having earned fifteen varsity letters in four sports at Franklin, Kingsolver was a shoo-in as the recipient of the 1921 Wil B. Nelp award as the outstanding senior athlete.
After graduating from Franklin, “Willie” became Coach Kingsolver as he tutored athletes at Sheridan (Ind.) and Sullivan (Ind.) After coaching, he served as high school principal at Sheridan, Montpelier (Ind.), and Winchester (Ind.) before moving to Ft. Knox (Ky.) where he was superintendent of schools.
Hugh Lowery ’19
Hugh Lowery was one of the most colorful of the Blue and Gold Alumni. His eighty years were filled with enough variety and success to fill two lifetimes.
As a Franklin College athlete, he was another of those multi-talented young men who “can do it all.” A varsity letter winner in four sports, Lowery was team captain of the 1919 football team that became the legend when it tied Purdue in a 14-14 thriller.
After graduating from Franklin, Lowery was, at different times: a professional football player with the Detroit Lions; a “Jack of Aces” pilot during World War I; and chief chemist for Standard Oil of Indiana.
The 1921 Almanac described Hugh Lowery as, “Two hundred pounds. All man.”
Homer O. “Mac” McCracken ’39
One of the best Franklin College had in the pre-World War II days was Homer “Mac” McCracken. During his stay at Franklin, “Mac” was a member of every basketball and football team to wear the Blue and Gold. His value to both sports is seen in the fact he was captain of the 1938 football squad and Most Valuable Player on the 1936-37 basketball outfit. During his senior year he was also president of the “F” Men’s Club.
After graduation, McCracken became associated with UNIROYAL (formerly United States Rubber Company) and has served that organization in various capacities since that time. He is presently Divisional Controller of UNIROYAL International, Inc., and resides in Middlebury, Connecticut.
Wil Be Nelp, Sr. ’17
One of the highlights of any Franklin College athletic year is the selection of that young man to be named recipient of the Wil B. Nelp Trophy. The award is given to the senior athlete whose athletic ability, scholarship, and campus citizenship sets him above his peers. The namesake of the award, Wil B. Nelp, did himself exemplify the qualities necessary for the honor.
Wil Nelp etched his name in Franklin College athletic history as a varsity letterman in both football and basketball, serving the 1914 grid squad as captain. But his influence on Franklin did not end with his playing career. In 1921 he returned to his alma mater to coach the football team, and he was Vice President of the College from 1940 to 1942.
John Phillip Ruffalo ’57
Franklin College opponents were very happy to see Phil Ruffalo graduate in 1957. The four previous years he had plagued them in football, baseball, and basketball. Named to the All-Conference football teams his sophomore, junior, and senior years, Ruffalo was co-captain of the 1955 and 9156 grind squads. In baseball, he was named All-Conference four consecutive years and captained the Franklin College diamond men in 1956 and 1957.
At the conclusion of his senior year, the Honorable Mention All-American was named recipient of the Wil B. Nelp Trophy.
Following graduation, he completed work at the Northwestern University Medical School. From 1966 to 1969 Dr. Ruffalo served in the United States Air Force as Chief of Surgery at the U.S. Air Force Hospital in Teheran, Iran. From 1969 to the present, he has maintained a private medical practice in Williston, North Dakota.
Loyd G. Smith ’51
Earning four varsity letters each in basketball and track, Loyd Smith racked up record after record during his athletic career at Franklin College. At one time, he held five school basketball marks and two others in track and field.
In basketball, he was a four-year starter as he starred from his center position. His basketball honors include: All-Conference in 1951; Indiana College All Star Team in 1951; and All Midwest Tournament Team in 1949.
The javelin throw was the event that was to give Loyd Smith national attention. Winning the Hoosier College Conference javelin throw four times and the Little State title four times, he was one of the premier track and field men in the Midwest. He placed 2nd in the 1951 Penn. Relays and 3rd in the NAIA Small College Meet that same year. In his collegiate career he threw the javelin competitively in thirty-seven meets- winning thirty-four times, placing once each in second, third, and seventh.
Loyd is currently Vice-President of the People’s National Bank in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Stanley M. Strohl
Earing fourteen varsity letters (4 in football, 4 in track, 3 in basketball, and 3 in baseball) Stanley Strohl made a tremendous impact on Franklin athletics during his four years at the College. Captain of the football team his junior and senior years, holder of state dash records and winner of the Wil B. Nelp award his senior year, Strohl exemplifies the kind of all-around athlete anchoring Franklin’s rich athletic tradition.
Following his All-State football and track days at Franklin, Strohl moved on to Decatur County where he was Athletic Director and head basketball coach at High School from 1923-28.
When his coaching ended, he became an engineer with A.T. & T., Citizen’s Gas and Coke Utility and, later, Allison’s Division of General Motors
Walter “Bud” Surface ’32
While at Franklin College, “Bud” Surface had the unusual honor of being named All-State in both football (1931) and basketball (1932). In football, his leadership was heavily relied upon as he captained the Franklin College grid squads his sophomore, junior, and senior years. In his senior year, he saw double duty as a captain when he was selected as the team leader in basketball.
After his days of glory on the field and courts of Franklin, Surface went on to coach basketball at Paoli High School (1932-34), then football, basketball, and track at Shields High School in Seymour, Indiana (9134-43).
Since 1943, “Bud” has owned and operated the Surface Insurance Company in Seymour, Indiana.
Robert “Fuzzy” Vandivier ’26
Described by John Wooden as “one of the best basketball players I have ever seen,” Robert Vandivier is generally regarded as the man who made the Wonder Five go. No name in Franklin basketball lore jumps out the way “Fuzzy’s” does. Ask any round ball buff over fifty years of age, and he will tell you that there was no player in the nation who could do the things Ol’ Fuzzy could do.
Many people have forgotten that Vandivier also earned varsity letters in football and basketball, but everyone remembers the high school and college games which prompted his selection into first the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame and now the Franklin College Athletic Hall of Fame.
He was the basketball coach at Franklin High School from 1926-44 and was Athletic Director at the school from 1944-62. Franklin High School honored Coach Vandivier in bricks and mortar when they named the school’s gymnasium in his honor.
“Fuzzy” is now retired and living in Franklin.
Earnest B. “Griz” Wagner ’12
Born in North Vernon, Indiana in 1886, “Griz” was the original Grizzly. Taking the nickname given Ernest by his brother, all Franklin College athletes who followed him were also destined to be known as Grizzlies.
“Griz” will always be remembered as the man who coached the Wonder Five to three Indiana High School State Championships (1920, 1921, and 1922), and then came with his team to Franklin College where they compiled an incredible 34 game winning streak one their way to state and national basketball titles. Under Wagner, Franklin enjoyed wins over the likes of Indiana University, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
Honoring Coach Wagner, the 1924 Franklin Almanac reads, “He has always been modest in victory faithful in defeat. He never bragged- he never lost control…He has kept his team whole some and game clean. He has taught the Gospel in Sunday school and lives it in the gymnasium. Can he do anything except coaching basketball? We’ll say he can! He’s a champion coach of life.”