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Published: Tuesday, 1/15/2002

St. Wendelin's fixture an Ohio coach of year

FOSTORIA - Kenneth P. Herman, who promoted fitness, scholarship, and discipline during four decades as a teacher, coach, and administrator at St. Wendelin Catholic School in Fostoria, died Sunday of complications from a stroke. He was 83.

In nearly 40 years at the school, Mr. Herman taught government, history, and math; coached basketball and football, and served as athletic director, said his daughter, Kathleen Witt. He retired in 1980 as assistant principal.

When Mr. Herman started his career at St. Wendelin in 1941, he was the only lay teacher in a school run by nuns, Mrs. Witt said. He coached all the school's athletic teams - junior high, junior varsity, and varsity basketball and football squads.

“He did it all,” Mrs. Witt said.

Mr. Herman twice led St. Wendelin's varsity football team to undefeated seasons, in 1959 and 1961, recalled his son Tom, who played on both squads. The second time he was named Ohio football coach of the year.

“I've had coaches in high school and coaches in college, and he was the most inspirational coach I've ever had,” Tom Herman said.

A firm believer in athletics, Mr. Herman started the Catholic Youth Organization summer baseball program in Fostoria and encouraged his children and grandchildren to participate in sports.

During football season he spent hours at home watching films of high school football games to prepare for Friday nights, recalled another daughter, Janine Schultz.

“He had a lot of kids take after him, because they're all interested in sports,” Mrs. Schultz said. “Believe me, I've watched football on the little projectors since the time I was growing up, reviewing film with him.”

Mr. Herman was born in Sandusky to John “Doc” and Lucille (Ott) Herman on Aug. 14, 1918. He grew up there and graduated from Sandusky St. Mary High School in 1937.

While at St. Mary, Mr. Herman played on the 1936 basketball team that won the state championship. In December, 2000, he and four surviving teammates were inducted into the school's new hall of fame.

“He was very proud,” Mrs. Schultz said. “He was honored.”

After high school, Mr. Herman enrolled at the former DeSales College in downtown Toledo, where he played basketball all four years. He graduated in 1941.

He married Genevieve Davis on April 25, 1942, in St. Ignatius Church in Oregon.

After the United States entered World War II, Mr. Herman joined the Army Air Corps and worked as a fitness instructor at Camp Lejune in South Carolina, getting troops in shape for combat.

After the war, “he came back and he was always at St. Wendelin's,” Mrs. Witt said. “He never went anywhere else.”

Mr. Herman was a member of Fostoria American Legion Post 73.

In his later years, Mr. Herman remained active, spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and encouraging their interest in sports.

“I live right across the street from him, so I spent a lot of time with him,” Mrs. Schultz said. “He'd come over to my house at night after my mom went to sleep and play with the kids. She'd come over in the afternoon when he was taking his nap and do the same thing.”

Mr. Herman is survived by his wife, Genevieve; sons, Kenneth E., Thomas, James, and Donald; daughters, Janine Schultz and Kathleen Witt, sisters, Dorothy Brown and Peggy Sullivan; 18 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Thursday at the Hoening Funeral Home, Fostoria, where a Rosary will be recited at 8:30 p.m. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday in St. Wendelin Catholic Church, with a Rosary recited at 10 a.m.

The family requests tributes to the St. Wendelin athletic department.

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