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Published: Tuesday, 11/13/2012

LARRY VOGTSBERGER, 1949-2012

Coaching was passion of longtime math teacher

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Long-time Liberty Center teacher and coach Larry A. Vogtsberger died Sunday at his home in Maumee after a three-week battle with cancer. He was 63.

Mr. Vogtsberger was a 1967 graduate of Northwood High School and a 1971 graduate of Bowling Green State University, from which he also received his master’s degree in athletic administration. He taught 40 years, 39 of them at Liberty Center High School.

Mr. Vogtsberger's widow, Carolyn Pennell Vogtsberger, whom he married in 1987, said her husband's pancreatic cancer was diagnosed about three weeks ago when she took him to the emergency room after he complained of not feeling well. The cancer also spread to his liver. She said his last day teaching math at Liberty Center High School was Oct. 19. 

He was a coach for many years at Liberty Center High School, first as head coach for the boys' team and then for 21 years as the girls' varsity coach. Mr. Vogtsberger was athletic director for 13 years. He taught math of all kinds in the high school and some in the junior high school, according to school Principal Mel Rentschler.

"He had a pretty big impact on the school," Mr. Rentschler said. "I would consider Larry an old-school kind of teacher - a lot of homework, he demanded a lot of the kids. As he aged I think he mellowed a little bit. He got interested in technology. He came in with sliderules and left with graphing calculators and smart boards."

He was known for the classroom motto, “Do what you think you should do.” As girls' coach he amassed a record of 269 wins and multiple sectional and district titles. He was a District Coach of the Year and State Coach of the Year.

"Coaching was like his passion. He loved basketball. He loved the kids, loved to push them, loved to see how he could make them work as a team," Mrs. Vogtsberger said. She said he got letters from former students thanking him for life lessons he taught them.

"He loved teaching. He never thought of it as work," Mrs. Vogtsberger said. She described him as talkative and upbeat.

She said he quit coaching Liberty Center to be able to attend his children's games at Anthony Wayne High School, where he coached the girls basketball team 2003-2005, while his daughter, Kimberly, was on the team.

Liberty Center varsity girls basketball team won the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title in 2001 under Mr. Vogtsberger. That year he was named The Blade's girls' basketball coach of the year. 

Another passion was farming. He, his brother, and his father farmed 700 acres in the Curtice area. Mrs. Vogtsberger said she asked him what he liked about farming and his answer was, "it's peaceful."

Son Brian Vogtsberger said that one of the things his father wanted to do before he died was harvest some of the corn, so Mr. Vogtsberger's son Bradley went with him in the combine to harvest the last six rows of corn. Brian said he took his father on a motorcycle ride as one of his "bucket list" activities, while Kimberly involved him in her flower garden.

"He was a more serious person, I loosened him up a little," said Brian, who called himself the family jokester. "At the end he was playing all the pranks on us and making us laugh."

Mr. Vogtsberger also enjoyed fishing, hunting, playing competitive slow-pitch softball, and camping, and was a life-long fan of the Cleveland Browns and Indians. He was a member of First St. John Lutheran Church, Toledo.

Mr. Vogtsberger is survived by his wife, Carolyn; daughter, Kimberly; sons, Bradley and Brian; parents, Ralph and Ethel Mae Vogtsberger; brother Dennis; and sister Kay.

Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at Peinert Funeral Home, Whitehouse. The funeral will be 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Grand Rapids.

The family suggests memorials be made to the Liberty Center Food Bank, Liberty Center Larry Vogtsberger Scholarship Fund, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.  



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