Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Chadron Assumption Kindergarten ∆ 1957-58

Another great school photo arrived on our doorstep recently. Thanks to Dave Schlickbernd!  This one is the Assumption Academy Kindergarten of 1957-58.  Several of the students are identified as follows: 
(Standing-L-R): Teacher Van Loan, Unknown, John Ryan, John Melton, Roger Lauder, and Dave Schlickbernd.
(8 Seated L-R but only 7 notations):  Diane Trabert, Unknown, Kathy Engel, Julie Grantham, Mary Phillips, Norita Faulk, Unknown
If you can offer additions/corrections, please drop us an e-Mail You can check out more photos in our Schools Gallery.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

From Guadalcanal to China – Warren Umshler, USMC

by Larry Miller

We’re approaching 75 years since the end of­­­ the Second World War, the six-year war that – in terms of lives lost and destruction of land a property – was the worst in history.  Most of those who fought in that war, or even remember it, are gone.  Their stories are not.

Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945, which is recognized throughout much of the world as Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day).   Three months later, the war in the Pacific came to an end, and Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) was proclaimed on August 15.

Private First Class Warren Umshler, USMC
First word of “V-J Day” reached the United States on August 14, 1945, although in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific, it was already August 15, and Marine Technical Sergeant Warren Umshler of Osceola, Nebraska was surely among those celebrating the moment!  He had been in the Marine Corps more than three years, and those years had marked some of the most significant – and horrific – moments of his young life.   Little could he have known that life would beset him with even more challenges in the months to come, despite the formal surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, which later would become the official “V-J Day” and marked the end of World War 2.

But to understand and appreciate Umshler’s story, it’s necessary to start at the beginning, in the small east Nebraska town of Shelby, about a one-hour drive west of Omaha.  That’s where Warren Hardy Umshler was born on January 3, 1923, the first of seven children born to Walter and Vera Hardy Umshler.  Warren’s father worked as a railroad depot agent, and his mother was a talented musician.

Umshler, a Junior in 1940, played for the Osceola "Bulldogs" (#4 front row at left)

They moved to Columbus, Nebraska for a couple of years before settling in the Polk County community of Osceola, where Warren attended high school and played basketball.  He was also a swimmer – but perhaps his most memorable experience was meeting and dating Genevieve “Jen” Hartson.  They soon became high school sweethearts.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marshall releases new book: "Say That Again"

By Larry Miller

Few people know as much about Chadron and Dawes County Nebraska as Conrad Marshall.  And fewer still – nay, I believe no one – knows as much about Chadron State College as this self-described longtime “CSC news reporter,” who served as Director of Information, Sports Information Director, among other titles, which only begin to describe his role at the institution over the years.  His love for and attachment to CSC are readily apparent in just about everything he does. Too, those passions reach well beyond the college and Chadron.
Con Marshall with his new book "Say That Again"
(Picture courtesy of CSC)
In July, Con put together a booklet of stories he’d written about a few of the many exceptional speeches delivered at CSC by a wide variety of folks over the past 35 years or so.  It’s dubbed “Say That Again,” a collection short stories about 32 of those speeches – including a bit about the selected speakers themselves.  Many of those folks are now deceased – but their messages live on in these synopses, and hopefully in the memories of folks who were there to hear them speak.
From Nobel Prize winner Val Fitch and Olympic Champion Billy Mills to Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page and former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell, the topics range from poignant stories about the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II to topics related to the U.S. Constitution and the importance of knowing our history.
Not all of the speakers were nationally known – Con has tapped speeches delivered by highly-respected local and regional folks, like Chadron State’s James Sheaffer, George Watson, Sam Rankin and Rolland Dewing, newspapermen Don Huls and Tom Allan, and several military veterans, like Ed Bieganski, to name just a few.
Of the 32 selected speeches, several focused on regional and Nebraska history – including early Chadron, the Great Plains, and Nebraska’s legendary U.S. Senator, George Norris.
This is an interesting and fun book to read, but it left me thinking Con should do another one, harvesting even more from other and earlier speeches.  He's been around CSC for more than half a century – reaching back to his years as a student beginning in 1959.  There are likely a lot of other speeches he's encapsulated over the years , if only they can be found!  But, as he explains in his brief Forward to the book, the task is not as easy as one might think.  
Nonetheless, I suspect down the road we’ll be enjoying more Con Marshall stories. 
Say That Again” is priced at $10 and can be ordered from Con at (308) 432-6478.   We think you’ll enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ed Bieganski (1920-2019)

Ed Bieganski received the Distinguished
Alumni Award at Chadron State College
- 2015 -
Edmund “Ed” Bieganski came into this world at Cover, Pennsylvania, on February 4, 1920. He was the third of the six sons born to Josef and Katherine Wroblewski Bieganski. These boys, referred to by the locals as the “brothers six” grew up on a dairy farm near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.

These were the depression years and young Ed began watching for ways to make a little money. He started with pounding nails for a new barn being built on the way to school (sometimes instead of school) and earning $1.00 a day. 
At the age of seventeen, Ed’s second brother left home and headed west. Ed listened closely to the tales of those adventures, shared with the family on a return trip, and decided that was what he wanted to do. Upon turning eighteen and graduating high school Ed tasted the life of a hobo, riding trains, picking up odd jobs, carnival work, truck driving, and hitchhiking. He followed in his older brother’s footsteps that led to the George Weise farm west of Chadron, Nebraska, and the Bass Truck Garden east of Chadron.
In August of 1939, Ed learned of the Fort Robinson Army Post and due to his working with horses in his growing-up years, was enlisted immediately into the Army. Thus began his twenty-year military career. He was issued his uniform (from what is now the Post Playhouse) and began his job in the Quartermaster Remount Station, classifying/documenting each horse with pedigree, height, weight, origin, and branded with its file number. That included breaking, and riding the horses to be issued to other forts for cavalry or horse-drawn artillery. This assignment continued for three years, during these years, he met a sweet school teacher from Valentine, Nebraska, on a blind date and he and Fern Linabery were married August 4, 1941. Fort Robinson has always been a special place for Ed all of his life.
Ed Bieganski - A remarkable life!
When cavalry units were deactivated, Ed reenlisted and was assigned to a trucking company, where he was involved with the rebuilding of Iwo Jima. With his third reenlistment, he performed administrative duties in Okinawa, Japan; Fort Lee, Virginia; Frankfort, Germany; and Tooele, Utah.

During these military years, Ed and Fern had two children, Gary and Maria. The family lived in numerous locations of interest, including the Quonset huts in Okinawa, and was able to travel to all European countries.
In 1959, Ed retired from the army and moved the family back to Dawes County, Nebraska. “Retirement” brought on many other opportunities starting with building a home south of Chadron. Ed worked for Olson Moving and Storage, driving Allied Van Lines across the country, being a part of the Chadron Police Force, the US Forest service, and Pine Ridge Job Corp.
It was at Chadron State College that Ed earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and taught speech and communications, as well as adult and continuing education classes for a couple years. He enjoyed maintaining his military connections with the Honor Guard, American Legion, VFW and while traveling across the country in the Allied Van Lines. Ed loved his ninety-nine-plus years full of life, adventure, experience and friends.
Edmund Bieganski passed away Wednesday, September 25, 2019, in Hay Springs, Nebraska. He was preceded in death by his wife, Fern of 69 years, parents, son-in-law Gene Daniels, and four brothers. Immediate survivors include daughter Maria Daniels, son Gary and wife Donna, brother Arthur and wife Joan, 4 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
A memorial has been established for the Chadron State College Foundation for the Ed Bieganski " Develop Your Potential " Endowment. Earnings from the Endowment provide scholarships to CSC Students who demonstrate a strong work ethic and the willingness to give back to society. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

CHS alum Mike Smith–noted editor–dies in Minnesota

By Con Marshall

Mike Smith kept close ties with Chadron friends
A 1953 Chadron High School graduate who miraculously survived a horrific automobile accident the following year while he was attending Chadron State College and became a noted journalist died Monday, Sept. 9 at age 84 in the Coon Rapids, Minn., hospital.

A celebration of life for Mike Smith will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Kolzak Funeral Home in Blaine, Minn.  A cousin who is a retired Jesuit priest will conduct the services. Inurnment will take place next June at the Calvary Cemetery in Chadron, a family member said.               

The auto accident occurred 65 years ago, a few hours after Chadron sports fans had listened to the first radio broadcast of a Chadron State football game when the Eagles played South Dakota Tech in Rapid City at night some four months after KCSR Radio had gone on the air. 

Both Frank Clark, who was the play-by-play announcer, and Smith, who had been the spotter, were sophomores at Chadron State.  En route home from the game, they missed the turn in Custer south to Hot Springs and Chadron and wound up in Newcastle, Wyo.

After getting their bearings, they traveled to Lusk to connect with Highway 20.  In the wee hours of the morning, Clark fell asleep at the wheel of his 1949 Studebaker, which rammed into a bridge between Crawford and Whitney.

A bridge railing split as it penetrated the front of the vehicle. The upper portion went through Smith’s upper leg and left side, and even into the trunk, pinning him in the passenger seat. Clark tried to both attend to Smith and flag down the few vehicles that were on highway, but it was still quite dark and the car had gone into the ditch and into a pasture about 50 yards, according to the patrolman’s report, before coming to a stop.

About 45 minutes after the accident had occurred, help arrived. The Chadron Record story said Dr. Leo Hoevet and the Chadron Rescue Unit headed by Paul Thein and Alden Rasmussen sped to the scene. Crawford authorities also were alerted and Dr. Ben Bishop brought blood plasma.

The first problem was how to get Smith out of the car. Someone raced to the Ross Drinkwalter farm about a half mile away and borrowed a saw.  Smith, who remained conscious during the ordeal, was in pain, but not unbearably so, he said years later, believed Rasmussen did the sawing, both in front of Smith and behind the seat. It was about 7 o’clock when he was removed from the car, placed in an ambulance, given a blood transfusion and rushed to the Chadron Hospital.

While Smith had part of his hip bone sheared off, a cracked lower vertebra and a ruptured spleen, no vital organs or arteries were hit. Dr. Hoevet removed the chunk of creosote timber, apparently with the aid of Betty Thompson, a surgical nurse.

Frank Clark and Mike Smith re-unite in Chadron - 2002
Smith remained hospitalized several weeks, with updates of his condition reported frequently by KCSR and the Record. Years later, he recalled being well enough to attend one of Chadron State’s late-season football games and was introduced to the Elliott Field crowd.

Sometime that fall, Smith said he also went to a dance at the college and sat at a table where Clark, who had remained in close contact with Smith during his recovery, and his date, JoAnn Dollison, were seated.  Dollison, a native of David City, Neb., also was attending Chadron State.

“Frank introduced Jo and I and we had a pleasant visit,” Smith said. “I certainly didn’t dance that evening, but I did take a shine to Frank’s date. We were married a couple years later when I was attending Fresno State.

”Smith said he also took over Clark’s job as sports director at KCSR after Clark transferred to Iowa State in the fall of 1955 to earn a degree in communications. Clark later spent 20 years in the Navy, much of it as an officer on submarines. 

After both left Chadron, the men had little contact until the 1990s, when they renewed their friendship, visited each other’s homes and began exchanging e-mails.

Sports reporting became Smith’s ticket to success.  After graduating from Fresno State and with the encouragement of Maurice Van Kirk, publisher of the Chadron Record during the 1950s and then the editor of the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Smith joined that newspaper as a sportswriter. He also wrote sports for about three years at the North Platte Telegraph, and worked seven years at the Omaha World-Herald, some of them as the Nebraska editor, before moving to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1967.

During much of the 1970s, Smith was the Star Tribune’s sports editor during the era when Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew were starring for the Twins and Fran Tarkington and the Purple People Eaters were leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
Smith also was that newspaper’s Sunday magazine editor before retiring and he and Jo moved to Arizona in 1991.

He was an athlete.  He played basketball at Chadron High and was a member of the Chadron American Legion baseball team and the Elks’ town team in its latter years. 

The Smiths never lost contact with Chadron.  Several summers during the early 2000s, they avoided the Arizona heat for a few weeks by living in the High Rise at Chadron State and “stuffing envelopes for the CSC Alumni Office,” in Jo’s words. 

Smith also faithfully attended Chadron High Class of 1953 reunions, including the 65th in the fall of 2018.  Classmates and other friends remember him as being “a happy-go-lucky, life-of-the-party” type who despite his successes, never took himself too seriously.

During a 2002 interview when both he and Clark returned for the Chadron State homecoming, both called Smith’s survival “a miracle.” He credited Chadron firemen and Dr. Hoevet “for doing everything perfect” during the rescue and ensuing surgery.

Because four of their six children live in the Minneapolis area, the Smiths moved back there about 10 years ago.  There are 12 grandchildren. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Caught in the Past! #1

Who exactly were these luminaries?

A.  Actors Anthony Quinn and Bill Cullen visiting Crawford in 1947 considering Crow Butte as a movie location. 

B.  State Senators A. V. Cunningham and Jim Beaufort at NSTC in 1950 reviewing plans for a new Student Union at the college.

C.  Lawman Bob Beers and City Manager Ken Kyle conferring in 1955 at Chadron City Hall.

D.  Movie mogul Darryl Zanuck and State Game Commission member Oliver Durham prior to Zanuck's 1951 speech at Ft. Robinson.

Chadron Chief of Police Robert Beers and City Manager Kenneth Kyle

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Through the Years" exhibit at Chadron State

Daniel Binkard with early photo of CSC's first building
An exhibit featuring vintage memorabilia and photographs of Chadron State’s history since 1911 will be on display Aug. 5 to Aug. 26 in Memorial Hall’sMain Gallery. “Chadron State through the Years,” is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The display includes an Elmo mascot costume, wool blanket, cheerleading outfit, letter sweater, and slide show of archived photographs designed by Digital Graphic Designer Daniel Binkard.
Binkard created the slideshow for the show from photos in the College Relations historical photo archive.

“This archive is an ongoing project to catalogue the photos that are in Con Marshall’s collection, plus photos in the College Relations collection that have been taken by myself, Dewayne Gimeson, Justin Haag, and Jerry Ingram, among many others. I’m glad to have an opportunity to showcase some of the photos in the archive as I continue to add to it and refine the information in it,” Binkard said.
The collaboration included the Chadron State Foundation and Alumni Office, the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, the Galaxy Series Committee, the Conferencing Office, Art Professor Laura Bentz, and College Relations Director Alex Helmbrecht.
“We’ve received a lot of items through the generosity of alumni and their families. This show gives us the opportunity to display some of these items where more people can see them and enjoy them. It’s remarkable to walk through the show and compare the historic photographs to the campus today,” Director of Alumni and Development Karen Pope said.

-- Story courtesy of Chadron State College Relations