From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Escaped slave becomes beloved figure at OSU

An escaped slave of Andrew Jackson became a beloved figure of the early university.

Washington Townsend worked at The Ohio State University for about 20 years first as a groundskeeper and then as janitor of Orton Hall, which housed the main library at the time. Townsend was once a slave at the Hermitage, a property of Andrew Jackson’s. He escaped slavery by reaching Ohio in 1860.

1895 Orton Hall exterior

1895 Orton Hall

Townsend came to the University in 1885 and worked until his death in 1904. He is most remembered as having a genuine character and positive attitude. His impact on the early University community is demonstrated by tributes of both faculty and students.

According to the Alumni Magazine, Townsend’s character and service was so well known and highly esteemed by President Edward Orton that Orton’s son, Edward Orton Jr., set up a pension plan for Townsend and paid for a plot of land in the Green Lawn Cemetery when Townsend died. Townsend’s gravestone marker has a tribute to his life written by Orton Jr.

The students felt similarly that his service and presence at the University made it a better place. They mention going out of their way to pass by Townsend to say good morning and even memorialized him in the yearbook.

Washington Townsend's Grave

Washington Townsend’s Grave

Editors of the early Makio would write plays or other literary pieces about their experience at Ohio State. In the 1897 Makio the editors wrote a poem about Townsend’s origins, loyalty to Ohio State and good cheer. They end the poem with the stanza:

Then here’s a toast to you old man.
May many years be thine,
is the wish of all your student friends
and the editors benign.

We learn from the Lantern that Washington Townsend suffered a stroke a couple years before he died. When he died on Christmas Eve 1904, several articles recognized the impression he made on campus. The reporters further said that all their names would be forgotten, but the kind words and faithful service of Washington Townsend would be preserved.

For the complete version of the student poem, view the 1897 Makio.


In memoriam: Bugno, Clarke and Edse had lasting legacies at OSU

We’d like to tell you about three former OSU staff members whose recent deaths remind us of their significant impact the campus community:

Ray Bugno, who died January 6 at the age of 94, was deputy director of the OSU Research Foundation for 38 years, from 1949 to his retirement in 1987. But Bugno was on campus long before he started working at OSURF. His family rented a house on

Raymond S. Bugno, 1987

Raymond S. Bugno, 1987

Woodruff Avenue (where the Fisher College of Business stands now) from former Athletics facilities manager Tony Aquila, who had hired Ray’s father in 1926 to work for him.

In 1936, Bugno started working during the summers for the University, when he was a teenager, and his first full-time job was in Stores and Receiving, in 1940. He worked there until 1943 when he entered military service. When he returned from World War II, he became a student, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Commerce in September 1949.

That same year, in November, the Research Foundation needed someone to create a new inventory system to meet the requirements of government contracts. Having such experience at Stores, Bugno applied and got the job. Bugno spent more than half of his OSURF career as deputy director of the Sponsored Programs Administration where he was responsible for project administration, accounting, purchasing and reprographics. One of his most important roles was as National Security Officer for OSURF, a job in which he helped faculty gain national security classification for federal research projects.

In 1988, Bugno received the University’s Distinguished Service Award for a career of outstanding service to the OSU community.


John J. Clarke, who died last August at the age of 90, served as a journalism professor at the University for 19 years, from 1967 to

John Clarke, 1968

John Clarke, 1968

1986. During that time, he served as advisor to The Lantern, where he implemented a computer system to make the daily production of the newspaper much faster and more precise. He also established a program through the journalism department for young editors to place them in internships in newsrooms all over the country.

Journalism Students using UDT's, July 1980

Journalism students using VDTs, 1980

First, though, Clarke had a distinguished newspaper career. After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, Clarke worked as a reporter for the Providence, R.I., Journal-Bulletin. There, he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for local news reporting for its coverage of a bank robbery in which a police officer was killed. Afterwards, Clarke worked for the Scranton, Pa., Times until he was hired at OSU in 1967 to teach journalism, particularly editing, and serve as advisor to The Lantern.

While at OSU and after his retirement, Clarke directed a copy editing internship program for the

Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, from 1970 to 1991. Journalism students from around the country would be invited to OSU during the summer for an intensive, two-week instruction program in editing. They then would be placed in professional newsrooms throughout the U.S.  Former participants went on to careers at such prominent newspapers as The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald.

Clarke retired from OSU in 1986, the same year he received the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.


Ilsedore Edse, who died in December at the age of 97, was a German professor for 22 years, from 1956 to her retirement in 1988.

1956 Ilsedore Maria Edse, Instructor, German, B.Sc. Osu 1952, M.A. OSU 1954

Ilsedore Maria Edse, 1956

During that time, Edse not only taught German to campus students, but educated people on German language and culture through roughly a quarter-century of radio and television broadcasts.

Raised in Koblenz, Germany, Edse came to the U.S. in 1946 with her husband, Rudolph, who had been recruited to work on the American space program. Her husband eventually became director of OSU’s rocket research laboratory in the Department of Aeronautical Engineering.

Edse's Award, April 1980

Edse receives the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, April 1980

Edse earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree from OSU, and she began teaching German while she was working on her doctorate. It was during this time, in 1954, that she was asked by another professor to do a daily German instruction program on WOSU-AM. After the other professor stopped participating, Edse carried on alone. She later added a monthly radio program on German opera.  In 1957, Edse began her television career on WOSU-TV with a twice-monthly live program called “Die Deutsch Stunde” (“The German Hour”). In that half-hour program, Edse would teach the language through skits, satiation comedy and other visual means.

For her program, Edse received two Emmy Award nominations, and she received many accolades for her teaching and broadcasting. The most satisfying may have been from her native country: in 1980 West Germany awarded her its highest honor – the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) – for her distinguished contributions to intercultural understanding.

Stop the World- I Want to Get Off!

The year is 1966. Novice Gail Fawcett is President of the University. Two brand new residence halls have just opened on campus: Archer House and Morrill Tower. October will be a big month for Ohio State with the groundbreaking for the Newark Branch Campus and Marion Branch Campus on October 27th and 28th respectively.  Then on November 1st  members of the Ohio State University Touring Company departed Columbus for Thule Air force Base in Greenland.brochure

The Ohio State University Touring Company partnered with the United Service Organization (USO) and the American Educational Theatre Association (AETA) to perform the musical “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off” for troops in the Northeast Area. The students performed in front of troops as part of the North Atlantic Command Tour, which visited: Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, Iceland.  Ohio State was given this opportunity to perform abroad by applying to the USO directly and was one of a select few universities to be chosen.

George Crepeau

George Crepeau

The musical comedy centers around the life of a character named Littlechap “whose ambition and good luck lead him to…success”[1]. Ted Pettit played the main character and was supported by Bev Pettit.  Dr. Crepeau, director of the musical, managed to help his cast perform a difficult musical to a well deserving audience outside of the United States.  Because of the demands of the musical, students were required to continue rehearsals abroad.

This was one of many trips that Dr. Crepeau would take his students on during his tenure at OSU. In 1984 Dr. Crepeau would take his other students to Berlin and Moscow to see several different musicals and plays as part of a larger effort to introduce students to different types of theatre.

According to the financial statements, the tour cost $935.24 to produce. $384.61 was spent on costumes, $204.47 on lighting, $55.86 on shipping charges, $194.07 on Hardware and misc., $15 on make-up, $10.39 on music, and $70.84 on publicity.

AETAOverall, the tour was a great experience for the students to perform at venues and for diverse audiences which would not have been possible without the USO and AETA. Most importantly thought, it gave the University a chance to give back to U.S. troops stationed abroad during a time when many other students across the country began protesting the Vietnam War and those serving in the military.

Information for this blog was provided by the newly accessioned materials from the Department of Theatre.

[1] Fenton, Charles G. “‘Stop the World’ Triumphs in U – Hall.” OSU Lantern [Columbus] 1 Dec. 1965: n. pag. Print.

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