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Published: Monday, 10/25/2004

Napoleon football coach was state Hall of Fame honoree

NAPOLEON - Charles "Bucky" L. Buckenmeyer, who was one of the winningest coaches in northwest Ohio high school football history, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Friday at the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. He was 83.

He retired as head football coach for Napoleon High School in 1977 with a record of 209 wins, 48 losses, nine ties, 18 league championships, and seven undefeated seasons.

Even with his impressive record, his daughter Cindy Freytag said her father was a modest man.

"At times I think he was a little embarrassed when he got special recognition," she said.

Mr. Buckenmeyer was born in Swanton in 1921 and graduated from Swanton High School in 1939. He attended Bowling Green State University, where he lettered in basketball, football, and golf, Ms. Freytag said.

Before he could graduate from BGSU, Mr. Buckenmeyer joined the Army and was a first lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne, where he made the invasion jump in France during World War II.

After his service, he returned to Bowling Green and got his degree in 1946.

He received two Purple Hearts during the war, and met his wife, Olga, an army nurse, while recovering from his second injury. The pair were married in 1945.

Mr. Buckenmeyer served as the assistant high school football coach for Napoleon High School from the fall of 1946 to 1947.

He then took over as head coach for the Wildcats and stayed there for 29 years.

Tom Weaver, 45, who is Napoleon High School's career rushing and scoring leader, played for Mr. Buckenmeyer during his last three years of coaching.

He said Mr. Buckenmeyer studied films of opponents and was able to get the best out of every player because he knew the other team's weak spots.

"He had every athlete, every player, every position reach their maximum potential," Mr. Weaver said, adding that a phrase his coach used regularly was "execute with intensity."

He required his players to perform the same play until they executed it perfectly.

"Whenever we took the field, we were always confident because we knew we had the best coach," Mr. Weaver said.

After retirement, Mr. Buckenmeyer was an assistant coach and mentor at Swanton, Holgate, and Archbold high schools. He was inducted into the District No. 7 Football Coaches Association and into the Napoleon and Swanton high school athletic halls of fame, the Bowling Green Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973, and the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1990.

He was the Ohio High School Football Coach of the Year, Northwest Ohio District Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1976, and was the league coach of the year three times. He received special awards from the Bowling Green Varsity Club in 1982 and the Ohio Football Coaches Association in 1990.

Surviving are his wife, Olga "Tiny" Buckenmeyer; sons, Charles "Tony" Buckenmeyer and James Buckenmeyer; daughters Cindy Freytag and Sandy Bowditch; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A wake service will be held at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at Walker Mortuary. Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday in St. Augustine Catholic Church in Napoleon.

The family suggests tributes to the Northwest Ohio Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association or the Napoleon High School Athletic Department.



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