Today one look at an old newspaper article brought back so many memories of times at Ney Junior High when Olan Smith served as principal. As a new teacher there in 1973, it took awhile to catch on to his dry wit and solemn face, followed quickly by the smallest of smiles...a "gotcha" smile. Very well liked by faculty and students, he had the respect of all, and most of the time, his big hand on a shoulder could quiet the most boisterous of students.
At the time, maybe because I was not from the area, I didn't realize what a full and multi-faceted life he had led up until the time he came to Ney Junior High in 1958. Olan graduated from Sherwood High School in 1940 where he was an outstanding baseball and basketball player.
He was a also a star basketball player at Defiance College. His career was interrupted, however, when DC suspended athletics in 1943, while many of their male students were drafted or volunteered for the military. Olan was one of them, serving in Europe two years with the 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, earning a bronze star.
After the military, he came back to Defiance and gave Defiance College an outstanding basketball season during 1945-1946. For two years running, they were the highest scoring college in the state and Olan one of the highest scorers.
He loved sports and played baseball for many years at all levels of the game.
On July 6, 1946, the Defiance Crescent News reported this:
"OLAN SMITH SIGNS WITH THE BROWNIES
Olan Smith of Sherwood today had signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns and is expecting to join the Browns farm club, Springfield, Illinois, in the Three Eye League soon.
Smith graduated from Defiance College this spring after starring in basketball on resuming a war-interrupted cage career.
He has been playing first base with the Fort Wayne City Lights this summer and had the impossible batting average of .498 when the Browns got his name on the dotted line."
What a life he had before settling down and earning his Masters Degree at Indiana University and taking the job as principal! He was gone all too soon - in October, 1974 - and he was sorely missed.