Thursday, July 8, 2010

Remembering teachers past

VERNE LEWELLEN was one of the most highly respected coaches to ever come through Chadron High School.

A native of Minatare, he was a standout athlete. During World War Two, “Coach Lew” served with Patton’s 16th Armored Division that helped liberate Czechoslovakia; he then enrolled at Chadron State College after the war. A top flight defensive back at Chadron State, his four pass interceptions in the “Bean Bowl” football game against Idaho State in 1949 established a school record that has never been broken. His superb football career earned him a berth as a charter member of the CSC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Lewellen was also a top notch baseball player and likely could have had a career in the major leagues. After teaching and coaching at Hay Springs for three years, he came to Chadron as basketball coach and taught in Junior High, becoming Principal. He took the Cardinals to three state basketball tournaments, including 1960-61 when CHS won the Class B championship.

Lewellen retired from coaching and left Chadron to become Superintendent at Rushville for five years. He and his wife, Erma, then returned to the “Valley,” where he served 20 years as Superintendent at Mitchell.

A staunch supporter of CSC, he has served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Lewellens still live in Mitchell, not far from their son Curt and daughter Tammi Greenlee.

A “surprise” tribute luncheon for “Coach Lew” and Erma was held in Chadron on July 8, 2010.