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Published: Friday, 10/22/2010

Herb J. Redding, 1926-2010: Educator, coach forged ties with students, players

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

GIBSONBURG, Ohio - Herb J. Redding, who in 29 years as a Gibsonburg educator was a winning head football coach and, for 14 years, superintendent, died of a heart attack Wednesday in Baptist Medical Center South, Jacksonville. He was 84.

The last 2 1/2 years, he and his wife, Mary, spent summer months in Gibsonburg and winters at their place in Jacksonville, where their daughter, Marcia Jo, lives. And when their daughter lived in Savannah, Ga., they spent winters there, although he didn't head south until high school football season ended and returned north before graduation-wedding-reunion season.

He was past 80 when he last spoke at a Gibsonburg High School commencement.

"He forged such solid relationships with all his students and players that they would keep inviting him to reunions," his daughter said. "When their children and grandchildren graduated, he was invited to all those parties - and the weddings of children and grandchildren."

Mark Newcomer of Adrian, who played football for him in the early 1960s, said: "That's a testimony to the importance he [had] in everybody's lives."

Mr. Redding retired as superintendent of the Gibsonburg Exempted Village Schools in 1981. The district in 1996 named a wing of the high school the "Herb J. Redding Building." He was high school principal for about seven years.

"It was the highest honor that could ever be given to him," his daughter said. "He was just over the moon about it. It just validated everything he had ever done for the school."

A new high school-middle school complex was named for him and his predecessor, A.N. Welter.

He was born Aug. 7, 1926, in Fremont to Ruth and Charles Redding. He was a 1944 graduate of Fremont St. Joseph High School and a Navy veteran of World War II.

He was catcher on his high school baseball team; point guard on the basketball team, and a lineman on the football team. He received his bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University so that he could coach, his daughter said. He also had a master's degree from BGSU.

His first job was teaching social studies and math at St. Mary High School in Lorain, Ohio, where he also was head football, head basketball, and head track coach.

In 1952, he went to Gibsonburg High School, where he taught the same subjects. In 14 years as Gibsonburg head football coach, his teams had a 74-53-4 record and won conference championships. He received "coach of the year" honors.

His players said he was hard-nosed, a taskmaster, a disciplinarian, a motivator.

"Because he demanded the best you had, you worked hard," said Richard Freeborn, a guard on Mr. Redding's teams from 1956-58.

"In addition to being just a coach, he was a real mentor too," Mr. Freeborn said. "He wanted you to be a good citizen and represent your school well and the community."

His motto was "You win graciously, and you lose humbly," Mr. Freeborn recalled. "He wasn't the kind who ran up the score. He treated everybody the way he wanted to be treated."

Mr. Freeborn went on to college and wanted to coach, becoming a teacher and an assistant football coach at Gibsonburg. He was an administrator. And he was Gibsonburg superintendent from 2005-07.

Mr. Redding, though well-known as a coach - he also was head track and head baseball coach - "didn't want that to overshadow what he was trying to do as an administrator," his daughter said. "He valued that as much or more.

"As a coach, he wanted to do great things with the team, but as an administrator, he could do great things for the entire school system, and that's what he wanted to do," his daughter said.

For several years in retirement, he was principal of Millersville St. Mary School. He also taught math at the University of Toledo part time from 1989-94.

Surviving are his wife, Mary, whom he married Aug. 8, 1953; daughter, Marcia Jo Redding-Sanders, and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. and from 6-8 p.m. Monday in the Herman-Kinn-Veh Funeral Home, Gibsonburg. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Michael Church, Gibsonburg, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the Herb J. Redding Scholarship Fund of the Gibsonburg Educational Foundation.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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