Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

June 14, 2012

Schulz vital cog on 1941 Rams

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Bluefield College announced in the summer of 2010 that it would be reviving its football program for the first time since 1941. Since then, coaches have been hired, players recruited, and an exhibition season completed to prepare the new Rams for official intercollegiate play in the fall of 2012.

As new plays and players surface on the football field for the first time in 70 years, so do the memories and stories of heroes past.

One such hero was the late Walter Herman Schulz, a vital cog as a fullback for Coach Tony Lotito’s single wing offense in 1941.

Schulz came to Bluefield College from College Point, N.Y., where his parents, Anna and Paul Schulz, owned and operated a tool and die business. He fully expected to work in the family enterprise and not go to college, since his parents didn’t think higher education was necessary to continue the family tradition.

But Bluefield College came calling with a scholarship offer to play football, and Schulz couldn’t refuse.

He quickly fell in love with the private Christian college in the scenic Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia.

He studied engineering, sang in the college choir, and was elected president of the freshman class.

On the football field, he helped lead BC to a 4-4 season in the fall of 1941, including wins over Rio Grande University, Hiwassee College, and Tennessee Wesleyan College. While just a freshman, he was a key, often lauded component of the Bluefield offense.

“We have a scrapbook with his newspaper clippings from his high school days on through Bluefield,” said Schulz’s son, Paul Schulz.

“One article from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (April 4, 1941) has a photo of Dad opening a hole for (James) Lightfoot with Frank Lotito sprawled on the ground to the right. Another article talked of the players who lettered, and my Dad was one of them as a freshman.”

In fact, after just one season at Bluefield College, Schulz was offered an opportunity to play professional football with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he declined the invitation to return to BC to play for the Ramblin’ Reds.

“Dad loved Bluefield,” said Paul Schulz about his father’s experience at BC.

“He loved the atmosphere there. Each summer as we visited my grandparents in Princeton West Virginia, he always drove over to the school to walk around and remember his days there.”

Unfortunately, his memories were cut short as Uncle Sam came calling before Schulz could continue his football career. Despite great expectations for a successful sophomore season with the likes of Dick Bogdan, Frank Denardo, Rufus Witt, Nelly Frazier and Frank Lotito, Schulz, like most BC football players, was drafted by the United States Army to fight in the Aleutian Islands in World War II.

“The fighting there was every bit as terrible as the Pacific Islands, but not talked about as much,” said Paul Schulz. “We have a number of after battle photos showing destroyed Japanese tanks and cannons.”

Schulz served three years with the Army, earning the rank of sergeant. His tent mate during his tour of duty was Allen Funt, who became a television producer, director and writer after the war, best known as the creator and host of “Candid Camera.”

In fact, Funt, an artist, sketched a pencil drawing of Schulz in uniform that he signed and that still hangs in Betty Rose Schulz’s den in Princeton. After the war, Schulz returned to Bluefield College in 1947. By then, football was a mere memory at BC, scrapped in 1942 as a result of the lack of male student-athletes who were off fighting the war.

But Schulz continued his engineering studies and then moved on to Virginia Tech to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.

After college, he worked as a chief engineer for Valley Forge Products and a plant superintendent for Atlantic Gear Works, before honoring his parents’ wishes by returning to work for the family business in New York.

In fact, he managed the tool and die enterprise until his death in 1971.

“My Father passed away when I was just 16 years old,” said Paul Schulz, “but I remembered how fondly he talked about Bluefield College, so I decided to attend there, as well.”

Motivated by the fond memories of his father, Paul Schulz attended BC from 1971 to 1973. In addition to his studies, he served as a resident assistant, played varsity tennis, and participated in intramural athletics.

He continued his studies at Radford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science before building a career and a family in Saginaw, Texas.

“Bluefield was great,” said Paul Schulz about his own experience at BC. “I was a bit wild in those days and then Dean of Men’s Students Dr. Burkert decided to get me straight.

“After nearly getting thrown out of college the first year, he offered me a resident assistant’s position the next year. I needed the money, and he knew I needed the responsibility. I was very grateful to Dr. Burkert.”

While Paul Schulz continued his father’s tradition by attending Bluefield College, his sister, Louann, followed in her dad’s footsteps by attending Virginia Tech.

And, as football continues its revival on the BC campus, the only question remaining is, who will continue the Schulz legacy on the gridiron.

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