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Bill Durtschi

Inducted in 2015


Picture of Bill Durtchi

As the youngest of nine children born in Galion, Ohio on November 22, 1922, William R. Durtschi grew up in Galion where his grandparents had settled after leaving Oberheffen, Switzerland.

During Billís high school years he was active in numerous clubs and team sports, but excelled in football. Like many small cities in Ohio, Galion was often a football powerhouse in this area of the state. In 1937 Bill was a sophomore halfback averaging 8 yards a carry and earned all-NCOL second team. In 1938 he was the leading scorer in the area with 90 points. He made the first team all-NCOL team as a running back and was also named All-NCOL as a halfback in 1939. On November 11th, the game between Galion and Shelby drew a record attendance of 8,525 which ended in a 13-13 tie. The game was covered by the Associated Press, United Press, and the International News Service now known today as UPI. The 1937 and 1938 Galion football teams were the league champions both in Billís sophomore and junior years. His team played against two players from other area high schools that would later join him on the 1942 Ohio State National Championship team, Cecil Souders of Bucyrus, Ohio and Robert Frye of Crestline, Ohio.

After graduation in 1940 he was recruited by The Ohio State University and coached by the legendary Paul Brown. He enrolled in the College of Education at Ohio State and played freshman football that fall. Bill played as varsity halfback on both offense and defense and was also the punter. He sustained a knee injury in the 1942 game against Southern California which ended his playing career. Bill was replaced by his teammate, Les Horvath, a third stringer who won the first Heisman Trophy in 1944. The 1942 team became the first national title team in Ohio State football history with a 9-1 overall record and a 5-1 mark in the Big Ten. It was also Ohio Stateís sixth conference championship. Bill entered military service in 1943 but re-injured his knee and was given a medical discharge.

After graduation from Ohio State in 1948, Bill taught physical education and coached football and basketball at Newcomerstown (the early home of Woody Hayes) where he became head football coach in 1949, and led the team as league champions for the first time in twenty years. He coached for four years at Cuyahoga Falls as a backfield coach, and in 1956 he replaced Earl Bruce as assistant coach for football, basketball and baseball at Mansfield Senior, a leading high school team in the state.

In 1957 Bill accepted the head coaching job at Galion. The team had lost every game the previous year but Bill fashioned an 18-game winning streak and won two consecutive league championships for 1957 and 1958 seasons in the Northern Ohio League. In 1957 Billís team faced the adversity of a flu outbreak that postponed games in the league, and also witnessed the field house burn to the ground along with all of the teamsí uniforms and equipment. With all of the adversity the 1957 Tigers were the first unbeaten team since the 1944 squad. In 1958 the team not only won a second title in the new Heise Park stadium, but also stretched the school record unbeaten streak to 19 games. Bill held secret practices at a vacant field (now South Park) in preparation for the highly anticipated rivalry game with Bucyrus that ended with a Tiger victory. Galion finished the season with an 8-1-0 record and outscored its opponents 222-78. Bill retired from coaching in 1961 and later became Athletic Director. Bill was inducted into the Galion Hall of Fame in 1979.

Bill retired from education in 1982 after 34 years of teaching and continued his Durtschi Real Estate business. Bill and his wife Betty moved to Florida several years later. Bill has three sons Bill, Bob and Dave and five grandchildren. Bill stayed connected with the 1942 OSU team as they held reunions every five years in Columbus with their coach Paul Brown. Mr. Brown, as owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, would stay in touch with Bill and see that he attended Bengals games.

Billís heart was always in Galion and with the Ohio State Buckeyes as he rarely missed attending a game. He was a hard-working coach that was dedicated to his players, team mates and most of all to his family. Bill credited the success of the 1942 OSU team to the playersí ability to put the team above the individual. A team composed of multiple nationalities and religious creeds were united in contributing to a winning environment. Bill carried this team philosophy throughout his years as a leader on the field and in the classroom. He believed that there were no role models as impressive to young people as Paul Brown and his 1942 team. He once was asked why he coached, ďIíll never regret coaching. I met a lot of wonderful people and I saw a lot of boys grow up to be fine young men. That itself is reward enoughĒ. Bill passed away on July 13, 1994.

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