Archive for Thursday, December 29, 2005

Johnsmeyer Gym dedication set

December 29, 2005

The words "Earl W. Johnsmeyer Gymnasium" already adorn the wall at the north end of the Lansing High School gym, but the new title will become official Jan. 6.

That's when Lansing Alumni Association will play host to a dedication ceremony in honor of Johnsmeyer, a teacher, counselor and coach at LHS for 29 years.

The gym will be dedicated about 7 p.m. after the varsity girls' basketball home game against Piper. The varsity boys' game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. An additional ceremony honoring Johnsmeyer's former players in attendance will take place at halftime of the boys' game.

"We've invited back some former athletes that played for Mr. Johnsmeyer from 1949 through the 1964-65 season," said Loren Russell, secretary for the alumni association. "We maintain a database of our alumni, and we sent out invitations to those who played varsity ball for him. We already have four responses, and we're expecting more."

Those interested in learning more about Johnsmeyer will be able to view a display of memorabilia about the former coach. June Foley, president of Lansing Alumni Association, said Lansing Historical Society member Eva Wayman had organized the collection, which will be on display in the high school commons area during the games Jan. 6.

Ray Sherley, a Lansing resident and one of Johnsmeyer's former players, has a scrapbook about Johnsmeyer's life that Foley said she hoped could be displayed as well.

The gym dedication is the final step of a process that began months ago. A push began in June after five patrons, including Foley, petitioned Lansing School Board to support a proposal to name the gym after Johnsmeyer. Board policy stated that a person had to be deceased before the individual may be honored in such a way. Johnsmeyer died in 2002.

In a unanimous decision, the board on July 7 agreed to rename the gymnasium.

Lansing posted a 77-3 record during Johnsmeyer's first three years as boys basketball coach. During the 1949-50 season - his second at LHS - the squad went 29-1 and placed second at state. The success of that season sparked a series of community developments, including Lansing becoming incorporated as a city. Johnsmeyer also coached softball and track.

Although he is most known for his accomplishments as a coach, Johnsmeyer's greatest legacy to the community may be the scholarships he and his wife, Irene, started at LHS. They left their entire estate to Lansing school district to fund future scholarships. Five Johnsmeyer scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors each year.

For more details about the dedication ceremony, pick up the Jan. 5 edition of The Current.


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