at least 16 former LHS basketball players to return for ceremony
Loren Russell's phone has been ringing off the hook for the past three weeks as he has been flooded with calls from former Lansing High School basketball players.
The phone calls have been to let Russell, the secretary for Lansing Alumni Association, know who will be in attendance Friday night when the LHS gym officially is renamed Earl W. Johnsmeyer Gymnasium.
Johnsmeyer was a coach, teacher and counselor at the school for 29 years. He posted a 232-97 career record as basketball coach. After retiring, he dedicated his life to supporting community organizations such as Lansing Kiwanis and the Lansing Connection Breakfast Club, a group of senior men who meet every other week. He also continued to attend Lansing sporting activities and financed academic scholarships along with his wife, Irene.
Russell said 67 of Johnsmeyer's former players were invited to return. So far, 16 have committed to being in attendance, but Russell said that number may grow by Friday night.
"I'm pleasantly surprised and tickled to death with some of these guys," Russell said, noting that players from as far back as 1949 would be returning for the dedication ceremony.
Former players who have confirmed they will be in attendance are John Yunghans (Class of 1949), Bill Young (1950), George Studdard (1951), Walt Taliaferro (1952), Jack Asbury (1952), Ray Sherley (1952), Ed Skerko (1957), Albert White (1958), Frank Gould (1959), David Hintz (1959), Noel Bates (1964), Jim Force (1965), Jim Buchanan (1965), Jim White (1966), David Bergman (1966) and Harold Ryan (1967). Wayne Seymour (1949) and Charles McQuillan (1958) also might attend.
"We may have some more between now and Friday," Russell said Tuesday. "I've still got more calls I want to make, and there's a couple local guys I want to get in touch with who might make it."
Johnsmeyer's best team was his 1950 squad that went 29-1 and placed second at state. Young is the only player from that team who will be in attendance for sure. Three more players from the 1950 squad - Charles Bagwell, D.W. Woodson and Lambert Mills -responded to the invitation but are unable to attend because they live out of state.
The former players will be honored during part of the dedication ceremony that has been scripted by June Foley, president of Lansing Alumni Association.
Foley said the official dedication would take place prior to the varsity boys' basketball game Friday against Piper. The dedication will begin about 7 p.m.
Superintendent Randal Bagby will welcome the crowd. Foley will read a biography of Johnsmeyer's life. Then Lansing School Board president Brian Bode will do the dedication.
At halftime of the boy's basketball game, the former players will be introduced by Mary Jackson, an LHS cheerleader during the 1950 season.
Foley said a reception would take place in the high school commons area with cookies and punch. She said Eva Wayman, Lansing Historical Society member, had put together a display about Johnsmeyer's life that could be viewed during the reception.
"I have heard from a number of people from that era when Earl was still a teacher and coach who are pretty excited about it," Foley said. "We're hoping for a good crowd."
Tickets to attend the basketball games and ceremonies are $5 for adults and $3 for students.