From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Category: Alumni (page 1 of 7)

Bleeds Scarlet and Gray: Bartels turned passion for athletics into winning career as coach and educator

Written by Olivia A. Wood

After the recent passing in June of Dr. Robert “Bob” Louis Bartels, his family was kind enough to bring some of his material to the Archives that related to his career at OSU. When we looked at the material, we discovered that while Bartels was known to many as a head coach for Men’s Swimming and Diving, his impact on campus and the community was much greater than that. Bartels, born on November 14, 1928, was also a swimmer and professor at OSU, and he held many leadership roles in professional and community organizations.

Bob Bartels, 1950

Bartels stands at the edge of the pool, 1950

Bartels came to Ohio State University in the fall of 1947, ultimately receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Education, with a major in Physical Education, in 1951.  He continued his graduate education at Ohio State, receiving his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in 1952 and 1961, respectively.  Both degrees Bartels earned were in Education, with a focus in physical education.

During his undergraduate career, Bartels swam for The Ohio State University men’s swim team from 1949 until 1951.  Under the leadership of the legendary Coach Mike Peppe, Bartels and his teammates won three Big Ten and two national championship titles.  Along the way, he earned a Varsity “O” in swimming, and in 1949, Bartels was named as a first-team All-American “as one of the best breaststrokers in the country,” according to a Department of Athletics obituary.

paddle_front

Bartels received a paddle from the 1963 men’s
swim team with all of their signatures on the back.

Having swum for Ohio State, Bartels went on to coaching at Kenyon College, Ohio University and The Ohio State University.  Bartels served as the freshman swimming coach at Ohio State while working towards his Master’s degree. Then, from 1952 until 1954, Bartels worked as the head swimming coach at Kenyon College, where he led his team to win the Ohio Conference Championship. (During that time, he also served as the Assistant Director of Athletics there.) Bartels maintained the same position, along with the appointment as tennis coach, during his time at Ohio University. Bartels returned in 1959 to Ohio State where he served as an assistant swimming coach under Peppe.  In 1962, under their guidance, the team won the national championship title.  Bartels took over as the head swimming coach after Peppe retired in 1963, and he coached the team until 1967.

Meanwhile, Bartels was building his academic career. While coaching at Ohio University, he was an Instructor and Assistant Professor of Physical Education.  After returning to OSU in 1959, Bartels served first as an Instructor, then as an Assistant, then Associate, then full Professor of Physical Education.  He also served as chairman of graduate studies for that department.

In 1980, he helped establish the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, a joint venture of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and the Student Health Center. In the program, heart attack victims learned to incorporate an exercise program into their recovery. It was a new concept at the time; previously, people who had suffered heart attacks were told to rest. But Bartels and his colleague, Prof. Edward L. Fox, concluded the heart, like any muscle, benefits from regular activity, so they created the program to teach survivors how to exercise successfully without creating more stress.

980_Bartels_Fox_cardiac_machine

Bartels and colleague, Edward L. Fox, demonstrate their cardiac rehabilitation equipment.

1980_Fox_demonstrates_machine

Fox demonstrates how the cardiac rehabilitation equipment works.

During his professional career, Bartels published more than thirty academic publications and thirteen academic papers on that and other subjects related to physical education.

Bartels didn’t limit his professional contributions to teaching and coaching, though. From 1963 until 1986, Bartels served as the chairman of Safety Services for the Columbus Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. He also was elected as a member of the Commodore Longfellow Life Saving Society, a water safety program run by the American Red Cross.  In 1968 Bartels was elected to the Board of Directors of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America; he was elected as president in 1971. For his efforts, he received the “Distinguished Coach Award” in 1972 and the Honor Service Award for Service to Aquatic Sports in 1980, both from the Coaches Association. In 1979, Bartels was named as a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

1977_Bartels_instructs_faculty_fitness

Bartels works with an OSU employee in the
Faculty Staff Fitness Program.

Bartels didn’t end his contributions after retirement.  He officially retired from Ohio State on January 1, 1989, upon which the College of Education appointed him as Professor Emeritus, and he continued to teach courses in Physical Education for many years.  Bartels also joined the Ohio State Retirees Association, and he was elected to the position of President in 1991.  The former athlete can be found in two different Hall of Fames on Ohio State’s campus: The Athletic Hall of Fame and the College of Education Hall of Fame, in which he was inducted in 1998 and 2002, respectively.  Bartels also served on the Board of Directors of the Varsity “O” Association.

Finally, faculty and staff who participate in the Your Plan for Health program to stay healthy and active, aren’t the first on campus to be guided toward healthy fitness choices. In 1975, Bartels created the Faculty Staff Fitness Program.  The program offered OSU faculty and staff participants access to a gym, a personalized health and exercise management program, sports trainers, and dietary counseling.  Bartels served as the director of the Faculty Staff Fitness Program from its beginning until 1989.

2002_Bartels_portrait

Professor Bartels, 2002

Scrapbook provides insights to early student life

Esther McGinnis Scrapbook, 1915

Today, college scrapbooks simply contain photos of one participating in various university events, friends hanging around on the weekends, and maybe a graduation cap tassel or diploma at the very end. However, the almost 200 page scrapbook that Esther McGinnis made to commemorate her time at the Ohio State University may not contain any photos of herself, but tells us much more.

Makio 1915

McGinnis started at Ohio State in the fall of 1911 as a Home Economics major and was actively involved throughout the Ohio State community during her undergraduate career. The journey through her scrapbook begins with the various organizations that she participated in during her four years. The Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.) appears to have been a major organization during McGinnis’ collegiate years.

YWCA Membership Card

Her membership card stating her affiliation and fee of one dollar to join is one of the first items glued into the book with a news article about her appointment as treasurer. She also belonged to the Philomathean Literary Society, one of the oldest existing literary societies among universities. Her scrapbook contains her invitation to join and several invitations to attend events held by the group. Additionally, as a member of the Women’s Glee Club she cut out Lantern news articles about her acceptance and their concerts that followed.

Athletic Tags, c. 1911

During McGinnis’ time at Ohio State she also participated in quite a few organizations pertaining to her major, home economics. She was a member of the Home Economics Club, inducted into Phi Upsilon Lambda – a national home economics honorary, andworked as a student assistant in the Home Economics department.

Dance card, 1912

While this scrapbook is significantly dated, it is similar to today’s scrapbooks by what it contains next. The first half of the book reads like a yearbook mainly because it involves her inclusion in school activities, while the second half of the book is more about the various events she participated in outside of her organizations. One such activity is a Co-Ed prom she attended with Dorothy Griggs in 1913 at The Armory. Inside the scrapbook McGinnis attached a dance card, which lists the dances followed by the name of whomever she danced with. In addition, there are tags that were used for various athletic events around campus with captions underneath them such as, “Girls Basket Ball Tournament.”

Valentine c. 1911

Continuing to flip through the pages will allow one to see all the parties, luncheons, plays, and concerts that McGinnis attended by means of invitations, playbills, tickets, and programs glued inside. One page we found to be interesting within the scrapbook was a cut-out heart valentine that reads “’E’ is for Esther, Please don’t molest her.” While we may not know the context behind it, this clever rhyme allows us to think about a different time in history and what the valentine could have meant to her at the time. Whether it is an inside joke among friends or a gift she received, we may never know but this is what makes the scrapbook intriguing and an asset to our collection at the archives.

The rest of McGinnis’ scrapbook is filled of news clippings about what was going on around campus. While some of these articles acknowledged her induction into an organization or her tryouts for the Glee Club, most of them were just current events or updates on individuals’ lives. Many were about new faculty and staff, engagement and event announcements, event recaps, and the occasional news clipping about Dr. Thompson; such as the Christmas greeting that he wrote in 1914.

Alumni Magazine, 1951

This scrapbook contains the memories and moments that Esther McGinnis wanted to remember beyond her days at Ohio State. In doing so, Esther provided the archives with an inside story of what the life of an Ohio State student was like at the beginning of the 20th century. It highlights the events that took place, what students valued and found to be of importance, and gives us the chance to learn about Ohio State from a new, fascinating perspective.

As for Esther McGinnis, she continued on to receive her master’s in nutrition at Columbia University and her Ph.D in child development at University of Minnesota, but eventually returned to the Ohio State University. In 1951, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree was granted upon her at the Ohio State University and the following year she became a professor in the Home Economics department at Ohio State. She was the member of several honorary societies within her discipline and the author of many books as well. Her scrapbook will remain in the University’s collection to allow our patrons to enjoy it as much as we have!

Varsity ‘O’ member had more to brag about than athletic ability

Editor’s Note: Recently, Peggy Knight graciously donated the Varsity “O” sweater her father, Arthur Gordon Knight, earned as a member of the OSU Track and Field Team in 1938. It turns out that while Knight had the legs of a racehorse, as it were, he also had the heart of a poet: In 1949 the then-married student, who had interrupted his studies to serve in World War II, won a short-story contest for “The Shovel.” His own story seemed intriguing, so we asked Peggy to tell us more about her father. Below is his story, which we have edited for length.

1938 men's track team. Knight is in the second row, fourth from the right

1938 men’s track team. Knight is in the second row, fourth from the right

The son of immigrants, Knight was born in 1917 and grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. One of Peggy’s first stories about her father was when he was about eight years old. His older sister had diabetes, and there were no insulin shots at the time to help regulate her blood sugar. He kept an eye on her, though, so he could prevent an “episode.” As Peggy says, “One time… as they walked together he saw she was shaking and sweating profusely. Knowing she had little time before collapsing, he reached in his pockets hoping to find a bit of candy that he normally carried for her. He did not have any but he also knew the best thing for her was a glass of orange juice.  He had no money and there were no stores about, so he ducked into a neighborhood bar. The bartender tried to run him out thinking he was a mischievous neighborhood scamp, but he quickly explained the situation and the bartender was happy to provide the juice. Even then, my dad showed great compassion and sense of responsibility.”

Knight was extremely curious about the world, so he decided after he graduated from high school to do some exploring. He spent six months traveling around Mexico, including doing some digging in the ruins of Oaxaca. When he returned home, he decided to attend OSU, thinking at the time he would become a Geology major. After arriving on campus in the fall of 1936, however, he switched majors to English Literature, in the hopes it would better prepare him for a career that would allow him to explore and write about the world.

Knight was also interested in sports, and he decided to participate in either OSU’s football or track program. After spending time in a few football practices, he realized he was not going to excel and would probably spend most of his later life nursing old injuries from the game. He focused then on track and field, helping the OSU team establish new team records in the mile-relay event in 1938. He was good enough to earn a Varsity “O” sweater that year, and he started dreaming of going to the 1940 Olympics.

Knight's Varsity "O" sweater and a photo of the 1938 team

Knight’s Varsity “O” sweater and a photo of the 1938 team

However, his dream was never fulfilled because of World War II, which also interrupted his studies. Early in 1941, he and Peggy’s mother, Betty, eloped, and in June, he enlisted in the Army. According to Peggy, her father did not talk much about the war, but he did share several anecdotes with her, one of which was about being an ordinance officer with “a knack for bombs. He became the local go-to-guy for bombs that fell but did not go off.  He was called out to defuse bombs as needed and, as a child, I saw many gold-toned flaming bomb pins in his dresser drawer that he was given after each bomb was unarmed.  He told me he was very happy he was a smoker because his matchbook was his biggest weapon against difficult bombs.  He used the flap to prevent contact between the pin and the explosives.”

When his four years of service were up, the war wasn’t over yet, so he decided to re-enlist, this time in the Air Force. It was during these three years of service – he reached the rank of Second Lieutenant – that he hatched the idea for his future award-winning short story.

A year after returning home and to Ohio State in 1948, Knight enrolled in a short story class, English 507, where he wrote “The Shovel.” It was submitted to the Columbus Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters, and won first prize. The story, about a British woman in the days just before D-Day, was described by one judge as “a very profound story,” according to a Lantern article. In the article, Knight said he planned to be a creative writer after he graduated that June.

Knight, sharing a book with his daughter, Peggy

Knight, sharing a book with his daughter, Peggy

But Knight had a family to support (Peggy was adopted in 1953) and he began working in his father’s insurance agency. He and his family eventually moved to Galveston, Texas, though, where he became vice president of the American National Insurance Company. Because of a heart condition, Knight decided to retire early, and that’s when he was really able to satisfy his curiosity about the world and his passion for writing.

In 1970, he opened a rare and antique book dealership, and at about the same time, he became a columnist for the Galveston Daily News. “Now, his life was everything he hoped for in a career,” Peggy says, “he bought and sold rare books, 13th-century manuscripts and other types of writing, and spent hours reading them before selling them.  He was filling additional hours with writing his editorial columns.  And on occasion, he locked himself in his home office where I could hear his ‘new and modern’ electric typewriter clacking away with determination.”

His career as a Galveston columnist came to an abrupt end when he submitted a column about the “Johnson Memorial.” It was about a pull-chain toilet affectionately known by that name at the Rowfant Club in Cleveland (a literary society of which Knight was a long-standing member). According to Peggy, “no matter how good the article was or what the history of the water closet was, the publishers of the paper felt that the cultured ladies of Galveston society would not be pleased with talk of toilets, even in the modern age of the ’70s.  My father refused to be censored and pulled out of the ‘editorial comment’ business.”

After a flood destroyed much of their home – including many of Knight’s books and other life treasures – he and Betty moved to Ocala, Florida, where he died in 1987 at the age of 70 from melanoma. Peggy concludes:

“In his effects, I found nine unpublished and unfinished novels on which he’d been working.

He was a great man to many, an enemy to none.  He was a hero to me.”

We would like to thank Peggy for her wonderful donations, and we say donations because she not only provided us with a beautiful Varsity “O” sweater, but also a wonderful recounting of her father’s life. Our records focus mostly on him being an OSU athlete, so we appreciate her taking the time to show that his own story was much more than that.

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