Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2005

Who was Earl W. Johnsmeyer?

April 28, 2005

Earl and Irene Johnsmeyer joined the Lansing High School faculty in the fall 1948. Earl taught commerce and was the only coach for softball, basketball and track. Irene taught science and mathematics. The high school enrollment at that time was 65 students.

In Earl's first year of coaching softball, the team won every game with a total of 90 runs to 2 runs for their opponents. Earl's basketball team in 1949 had a record of 25 wins and one loss, that being in the state tournament. The 1950 basketball team had a record of 29 wins and one loss in the final game at the state tournament. Lansing's record in 1949, '50 and '51 was 77 wins and three losses. From 1949 to 1959, Lansing won the Tri-County League Tournament 10 years in a row. The Tri County League had a rule that if the enrollment was more than 125 the school would be dropped from the League, otherwise Lansing would have had a longer record. Earl's team had warm-up exercises before each game that intimidated the other teams. The '49-'50-'51 teams were known as the best passing teams in the area. Earl's track team also had many successful years. Earl was proud of his sports teams but was equally proud of his commerce students. They could always get jobs upon graduation.

I did the play-by-play recording of two of the 1950 basketball games on a wire recorder when Rex Stewart could not be there. My brother, Bill, played on the 1949 and 1950 basketball teams, so I followed the team everywhere.

I was in the Kiwanis Club for 20 years with Earl. We worked on many fund-raisers together. Earl and Irene were the founders of the Lansing Kansas Scholarship Fund, Inc. Many of today's seniors benefit by receiving scholarships from this fund.

Earl graduated from Berryton High School and received a B.S. and M.S. from Kansas State Teachers College. He was U.S. Army World War II Veteran, a member of the Lansing United Methodist Church and a charter member of the Lansing Kiwanis Club.

There was a reception held in honor of the 1950 basketball team and its coach upon their return from the state tournament. The grade school gym was packed, and it united this community in a way it had never seen before. This was pointed out by Dr. Robert Moore's words at the time. These words are recorded on a DVD now to be heard at the Lansing Historical Museum.

I have heard from several people about naming the Lansing High School Gymnasium after Earl W. Johnsmeyer. This would make me very happy, and I feel it's long overdue.

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