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In Memoriam - 2020

 

December 2020

Charlie Danilczyk, Southold, N.Y


Feb. 10, 1928 - Dec. 22, 2020

On Dec. 22, handball great Charlie Danilczyk died in his sleep from natural causes at age 92. Charlie was a fabulous one-wall doubles player from the late 1950s into the early ’70s, earning National runner-up status six different years. In the ’60s, he and National Hall of Fame brother Joe were runners-up in National 4-wall competition, and, in 1961, he and Joe won the National Three-Wall Championship.  Charlie continued top-level play in national masters events, winning five master doubles championships.

Charlie had lightning-quick reflexes and  might have had the sharpest handball mind ever. He believed that court positioning was the most important part of the one-wall game, and he had many theories of how all three handball games should be played. It is for that reason he has been dubbed “Dean of One-Wall.” He is a member of the New York Handball Hall of Fame.

Charlie and Joe Danilczyk would have been the greatest brother tandem of their era except, as fate would have it, the Obert brothers played during the same time. And in several tournaments, four-wall as well as one-wall, it was only the Oberts who outplayed the Danilczyks, their matches often ending within five points or less in the third game.Charlie, a pioneer at IBM, rose to and maintained a high-level position with the company until retirement. He is survived by Bettina (Betty), his wife of 67 years; sons William and Joseph (Jay) and their spouses; his sister, Helen; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.                                     .

Anyone who ever saw Charlie play, partnered with him or played against him would verify that on a handball court he was gifted with a genius for tactics, which enabled him to defeat many opponents who had more power and speed. Off the court he was soft-spoken, a true gentleman. RIP, Charlie!

Dan Flickstein, Monroe Township, N.J. 

 

Tom Saunders, El Dorado Hills, Calif.


Nov. 19, 1938 - Dec. 13, 2020

Tom Saunders passed away peacefully at home in Sacramento, CA with his family on Dec. 13, 2020. He had just turned 82. He was a patriot, a warrior, and a father. He will be missed.

Tom was a Houston native graduating from Lamar High School in 57'. He traveled the world and retired as a LT. Colonel and 25yrs as an education specialist at DoD in Albuquerque. Tom accomplished much in life. From 30 years in the Army and serving two Vietnam tours, to Dr. in Education while teaching at Command General Staff in the military, as well as a professor at University of New Mexico, and local community colleges in Durango, Co.

The country is lucky to have had warriors like Tom to defend its beliefs and be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to keep the American dream alive. His distinguished military service and bravery under fire and the wounds he incurred made him a strong and resolute person and a great handball player. He was our original bionic man with his patched-up body and replacement parts! He loved handball and played until his body finally said "no more" and hit the off switch.

He is preceded in death by his brother John, sisters Sally Saunders and Bethany Thomas, and his parents Col. John and Grace Saunders. He is survived by his nephew John Thomas and Tom's five adult children and their families: Dawn Saunders and her husband Paul and son, Austin; Gloria Saunders and her daughter Frankie; Lynn Saunders and her children Emerson and Lauren; John Saunders; and Jennifer Saunders; along with his ex-wife, mother of his children, and dear friend, Wrenne Saunders; and his beloved German Shepherd, Tag.

Funeral will be held December 28th, 2020 at 11:30am at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston, TX and you are welcome to join us. For those desiring, memorial contributions in Tom's name, may be made to the youth Handball Association or your local Humane Society.

For love of the game: Saunders family remembers

Circa 1975 heyday, at one of Tom Young’s Sports Club’s tournaments in ABQ, NM. Tom Saunders is in 2nd row from top in middle wearing white cut-off sleeves shirt, bending down. To right of Tom, is George Garcia. Directly behind Tom is Charlie Kasper and left of Charlie is Buck Snider, while on Charlie’s right is Wrenne Saunders (Tom’s ex-wife & longtime friend).

Tom Saunders, my father, was a longtime patron of the USHA and always loved the game. He passed away peacefully with family at home in Sacramento, California, on Dec. 13. He had just turned 82.

As handball players reached out to share their memories of our father, echoes of our second home at Tom Young’s Sports Club in its 1970s heyday in Albuquerque came to mind.  From the University of New Mexico collegiate youth that he taught to his military compadres to fellow players he met along the more than 60 years that he played, it was always clear to me the game engendered a unique passion and a family unto its own.Our father’s passion did pass on to his own family, with all of us five siblings attempting the fate of a four-wall court at some point.  Whether it be our mother, Wrenne, going on to be state racquetball champ in ’79 or our sister, Jennifer, continuing the handball legacy to this day, we are grateful for the bond the handball organization brought to our family.

To honor the game that he loved, We would like to share with you a few of the stories and strategies from the court shared with me recently:

“I first met my handball brother, Tommie, in ’76 at the Banos Roma tourney in Juarez. At 38, still fit and at the top of his game but seeded fifth behind Naty Alvarado, Vern Roberts, Al Moore and Jaime Paredes, Tommie drew Naty in the corners and was impressed by Tommie’s left bottom board rollouts along with his strong drive and competitiveness.” – George Garcia, Bakersfield, Calif.

“I knew I could always count on him. I could never remember the score, and when I did … it was in my favor. That always made him angry … and because of the agitation it allowed me to score more points. He was a tough competitor, a tough trooper and I had no better long term friend.” – Butch Roper, Roseberg, Ore.

“I played with Tom in a doubles tournament in Santa Barbara around 1970 while Tom was in training at Fort Irwin. I needed a partner. We won, but Tom carried us there.” – Nick Demos, Bakersfield, Calif.

“That would be a hell of a matchup yonder if Tom got with Cordy Garcia and Jim Economides.” – Dave Coulie, Albuquerque

Dawn, Gloria, Lynn, John and Jennifer Saunders

 

 

November 2020

Victor DiFranco, Somerville, Mass.


Dec. 1, 1934 -Nov. 26, 2020

Victor Arthur DiFranco, born on December 1, 1934, passed away on Thursday, November 26, 2020, after bravely battling cancer.Victor joins his parents Arthur DiFranco and Ada (Cipollini) and sisters Ann Aloisi and Caroline DiZio.  He is survived by sisters Elena Ames and Marie Mucci, Marie’s husband Frank Mucci, and Ann’s husband Mike Aloisi.Victor was a devout Catholic.  He was a bachelor who imparted that devotion to his extended family by supporting anyone in need and inspiring his loving nephews, nieces, grandnephews, and grandnieces by preserving and passing along the artistic legacy of his uncles before him. 

He was a gentleman and a joy to engage with in informed, opinionated, wide-ranging conversation.Victor was a lifelong resident of Somerville and member of St. Catherine of Genoa Parish, which he served in many capacities; was trained in radio technology in the Navy reserves and spent his entire career as an electronic technician at JH Emerson Company; was a longtime member and supporter of the Boston YMCA; was co-chair of the Boston Youth Handball Association and a tournament competitor; volunteered for over 25 years as medical aid worker for the Boston Marathon; loved to travel, especially to Italy and was always ready for adventure; was a lover of art in every form, especially the opera.Victor’s most prominent charities were the St. Catherine of Genoa Church, The US Handball Association, The Boston YMCA (make checks payable to Wendy Zinn c/o Boston YMCA , 316 Huntington Ave., Boston MA 02115).

Courtesy of  Doherty Funeral Services

Victor DiFranco passed away a week shy of his 86th birthday.

Victor was a long time member of the Boston Central Branch YMCA and a pillar of its handball community.  Few played the game with greater enthusiasm or joy.  

Victor was the driving force behind reviving The Boston Open as an event which attracted top players from all over the US, Canada and Ireland.  He arranged accommodations, hospitality and the prize money which made The Boston Open a premier event.  In addition to wanting to bring nationally ranked players to Boston,  Victor worked to bring "the kids from New York" to compete (you know who you are and he thanks you for coming).

Through the Boston Open, Victor raised funds for the Boston Youth Handball Association which provided instruction at the Y and in Boston schools and community centers.  He could frequently be found in the courts balcony encouraging the participants and applauding their efforts and good shots.  

Victor was a gentleman and a good guy in every sense of those terms.
-Marc Seigle


Sam Eliowitz, Maple City, Mich.


May 8, 1936 – Nov. 20, 2020

Samuel Eliowitz, 84, of Maple City, passed away Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 at the Munson Hospice House with his loving wife at his side.

Samuel was born May 8, 1936 in Ottawa, Canada the son of Abe and Gertrude (Lipman) Eliowitz. On Aug. 15, 1975 in Southfield, he married Mary (Elliott) Eliowitz.

The son of a Canadian football hall of famer, Sam was himself a gifted athlete. He led Detroit Western to victories as quarterback, then won football and track and field scholarships to Michigan State. His wins in the shot and disc helped MSU beat undefeated Notre Dame in 1958, and he held the Spartan discus record for many years. After graduation, he quarterbacked for the army at Fort Dix.

His master's degree in education led Sam to teaching and coaching jobs at Detroit Southwestern High, then athletic director and night school principal at Detroit Chadsey High, where he coached football, track and golf.
Sam's free time was filled with a passion for handball, a sport he learned at MSU. After picking up State of Michigan titles, he spent six months in Tucson honing his skills. He began playing tournaments around the country.
In 1996 Sam garnered two 60+ national three-wall championships, singles and doubles. He won the national YMCA four-wall title the same year. In 1997 Sam competed in the world four-wall championships in Manitoba, where he lost in the final round. Later he took the handball prize of the US Senior Olympics.

This accomplished yet humble man cherished his wife, children, grandchildren, and his friends. He enjoyed fishing, golf, travel, reading, and attending the Traverse City Film Festival. He loved animals, volunteering at the TC humane society, and he delighted in the wildlife in the woods surrounding his home.

Samuel is survived by his loving wife of forty-five years, Mary; his children, Debra (Mark) Skiba, Pamela Eliowitz, Mark Eliowitz, and David Eliowitz; his first wife, Shelby; his half-sisters, Linda (Les) Gorback, Susan (Jon) Hoover; his grandchildren, Petra, Alexandra, Tyler and Paige.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

A celebration of Sam's life will be announced in the spring.

Memorials may be directed to the World Wildlife Fund.

Please share condolences with Sam's family at www.martinson.info
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Leelanau.

October 2020

Wayne A. Black, Petaluma, Calif.


May 28, 1946 – Oct. 25, 2020

Giving is why Wayne Black is our most recent inductee into the NCHA Hall of Fame, and when I asked Wayne where he learned that, he said his mom taught him. “My mom was a big giver and always helped others, and it is something I just took over. I love to help and love to be around others who do the same.”
 
Wayne was born and raised in Albany, California. He played football, basketball and baseball, and ran track on the side. He was all-state in football, playing fullback on offense and line backer on defense. He was set to play football in college, but the Vietnam War had other plans for Wayne and he joined the National Guard and served in Vietnam. After coming home, college football was just a distant memory.

Two years later Wayne and a buddy were down at Fisherman’s Wharf and saw a beat-up, old, weathered door with the South End Rowing Club seal prominently hung next to it and decided to knock. Old timer George Dillon opened the door and asked the boys if they were handball players. They said they were, but they really weren’t, and the rest was history. After playing handball at the SERC for two years, George told them they really should join and they did. Wayne immediately got involved with the South End and everything else that had to do with handball.

Wayne served as manager of the South End Rowing Club and assistant manager relating to all handball issues. Wayne contributed and helped raise money to install a South End Rowing Club display in the hall of fame building in Tucson. He, along with Rory Moore, is organizing the American/Irish handball challenge at the South End this October. He, along with Vince Breining, raised money for the renovation of the handball courts at Golden Gate Park. He, along with Dave and Dawn Kennedy, helped raise over $15,000 in Santa Rosa to help defray the costs of cancer treatment for one of their handball player’s wives. He is also the best cook in the world and cooks for the Kauai Open, all South End tournaments, Park Point in Santa Rose, Golden Gate Park Tournaments, and any other tournament he is asked to do. He also accepted a position on the USHA hall of fame committee. Wayne has been doing all these services for handball for over thirty years.

I asked Wayne another reason why he gives so much, and he said, “Anywhere in the world you can find a handball player, they will take you in and take care of you. Handball players have unbelievable generosity. An example was our cancer drive. We’re really a community, we come together in crisis. We have a network all over the world and all over the USA. I really enjoy what I do, and I really love to play handball.”

-Geoff Capell

Wayne A. Black was born on May 28, 1946 to John Curtis Black and Florence Dutra Black of Albany, California. Wayne served in the National Guard. After his service, he worked for Greyhound. In 1971, he took a job with Golden Gate Transit, and retired with 30 years of service. Wayne was a long-time member of the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco.

He was an avid handball player and played across the U.S., Ireland, and Canada, where he was a two-time Canadian champion in doubles. He also organized some of the best tournaments at the club. As a swimmer, he helped organize the famed Alcatraz Invitational swims and would pilot as well. He organized both the St. Patrick's Day events with Irish dancers and singers, and the very festive Christmas galas.

He loved to bike and had the opportunity to do so through Portugal. He loved to travel and was able to visit many countries throughout his life. Two of his favorite places on earth were Hawaii and Yellowstone. Wayne revered his Portuguese heritage and every Christmas he would hand out sweetbread and linguica. He was a kind, generous man and helped serve the homeless and volunteered his services with various animal shelters and gave to many charities. Lastly, he loved gardening and rock stacking.

Wayne peacefully passed away with his family surrounding him Sunday evening October 25, 2020. His wife Virginia, stepson Mike, his cherished daughter Trinette, son-in-law Steve, grandsons Bryan and Bradley Neuerburg and dear friends Lee and Carole Cabral survive him.He will be missed by many.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to Hospice by the Bay would be greatly appreciated.  Due to Covid-19, there will be a private family celebration of his life on November 7, 2020. 

August 2020

Dr. Robert Theodore Maletich, Johnson City, Tenn.


Nov. 9, 1926 - Aug. 6, 2020

Dr. Robert Theodore Maletich, 93, of Johnson City died Thursday, August 6, 2020 at his residence. He was a native of St. Louis, Missouri, son of the late Joseph and Barbara Grubeh Maletich.

Robert proudly served his country in the U.S. Navy as a signalman on the U. S. S. Geneva in WWII from 1944-1946.

He was a graduate of Cleveland High School in St. Louis then he graduated from Indiana University for both undergraduate and medical degrees.

Married the love of his life Betty in 1955.

Robert worked as an OBGYN from 1964 until 1987 at the Springfield Clinic in Springfield, Illinois.

He was a longtime member and Elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

In addition to his parents, his brothers, Joseph and James Edward Maletich preceded him in death.

Those left to cherish his memory, his wife of 65 years, Betty Ehrman Maletich; two sons and daughters-in-law, Michael and Rachel Stahr Maletich, Marty and Kristin Jacobs Maletich; a daughter and son-in-law, Marcia Anne and Robert Bechtel; eight grandchildren, Hannah J. Maletich, Peter M. Maletich, Esther H. (Maletich) and Brian Carrick, Kimberly F. Stevens, Adam P. and Megan (Coakley) Maletich, Luke, Moriah and Lydia Bechtel; great grandchildren, Duncan and Finnegan Stevens, Matias Maletich, Cecilia Maletich; a sister-in-law, niece and three nephews.

He had a zest for life, loving his family, promoting education and up until his later years a passion for the sport of handball.

Dr. Maletich is to be cremated and a formal memorial service will be scheduled at his church, Covenant Presbyterian Church when it reopens for services. A notice will be published prior to the service.

Memorials may be made to either Covenant Presbyterian Church, 603 Sunset Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604 or Good Samaritan Ministries, 100 N. Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601. 

Richard Daniels, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, CANADA

Richard (Rick) Daniels, a fixture for many years in Canadian handball passed away at his home in Wolfville Nova Scotia on August 7, 2020.

Rick suffered a massive heart attack. Rick loved handball and worked hard over the years to introduce young players to the game at Acadia University in his home town.  He was a runner-up in C singles play in Canadian National events in Halifax and teamed with Dave Coulie from New Mexico to win a C Doubles in Halifax and a B Doubles runner-up in Winnipeg. 

He will be missed by his many handball friends.-Dave Coulie (Albuquerque)  

 

 

Clyde Angove, Helena, Mont.


Sept. 27, 1934 - Aug. 24, 2020

Clyde John Angove passed away on Monday, August 24, 2020 after a brief illness with his wife by his side. Clyde was born on September 27, 1934 to Edna and Julian Angove in Anaconda, Montana.

Clyde graduated from Butte High School in 1952, attended Montana School of Mines now (Montana Tech) in Butte for 2 years, was drafted into the Army, and in 1958 he began working at Morrison-Maierle, Inc. for 33 years as a drafting technician where he learned Cad systems of drafting.  He then operated his own business, Cad Plotting Service for 12 years.

In 1964 he married Sally Rogers and they were married 55 years at the time of his passing. Together they had 3 children; Karen, David, and Pamela.

A big part of Clyde was passing on his love of the outdoors and sports onto his children and grandchildren. Also, his sense of humor. He would always try to make people laugh. He also liked foosball, handball, fly fishing, attending sports games (especially baseball), traveling internationally as well as in the U.S., and ping pong.

Because of his finesse of the handball court, Clyde liked to refer to himself as “Clyde the Glide”.  He was very proud of his handball championships.  He garnered four Helena city singles championships in 1968, 69, 70 and 76 as well as 5 second-place finishes.  At State, he earned three Masters singles titles 1976, 78, 79; One Golden Masters (over 50) singles crown 1986; one Golden Masters doubles championship (with Neil Christenson of Helena in 1985); and five state runner-up trophies.  At the 1978 Western Canadian Finals, the modest Angove finished second after defeating Canadian Closed National Champion Don Kulch in the semis.  He placed fourth at the USHA National Masters Invitational in Minneapolis in 1979.

Clyde was also very involved with the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Helena. He also volunteered with the Lewis and Clark County Red Cross and Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

Clyde is preceded in death by his father Julian, mother Edna, and sister Eleanor.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sally; son David Angove, daughters Karen (Rick) Heiser; Pamela (Don) Chriske and; grandchildren: Travis (Krista) Pratt, Skyler (Denise) Angove, Rainbow Angove, Aurora Angove, Trason Dixon, Caylin Angove, and great-grandchild, Alove Harper.

Graveside services took place at 11:00 a.m. Friday, August 28, 2020 at Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison. Memorials in Clyde’s name are suggested to Prickly Pear Land Trust, 40 Lawrence Street Helena, MT 59601, or Helena Food Share, 1616 Lewis Street Helena, MT 59601. 

July 2020

Charles W. Girkin, Houston, Texas

Charles W. Girkin was born on March 14, 1944, in Jackson, Michigan to Emery and Betty Girkin. He passed away on Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Houston, Texas.

He is survived by his son, David Girkin, and his two grandsons, Charles and Walker Girkin. Charles moved to Houston in 1974 and never looked back. He started working in 1977 in the oil and gas manufacturing field and eventually started his own company, Charles W Girkin, Inc., in the early ’80s. He was well known and successful in his field and loved what he was doing.

In his personal time, he enjoyed many hobbies which included riding bicycles and motorcycles, playing handball, windsurfing, swimming, and bird watching. He especially loved spending time with his grandsons, going to museums and parks along with other fun activities. He adored them, and they will greatly miss him.A virtual memorial service was held on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 6:30 pm.Donations may be made to the Houston Audubon Society, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the YMCA. 

 

Gary Douglas Zintgraff, San Antonio, Texas


Gary with son Ryan back in 1986.

Gary Douglas Zintgraff, 77, of San Antonio, Texas, passed away on 21 July 2020 from COVID-19 complications. He served in the US Navy during Vietnam, when he picked up handball on the east coast.
Gary was also passionate for handball, competing for 50 years and always ‘good for at least 7 points” with his wicked hop serves.  He competed as an open player in both 4-wall and 3-wall.  He was a man of integrity and greatly valued family.

Gary is survived by his son, LCDR Ryan Zintgraff, married to Rachel, with grandchildren Makenzie and Douglas.  Gary is also survived by his daughter, Amber Oliver as well as his brother Robert Zintgraff, extended family, friends and loved ones.

Because of COVID-19, private funeral arrangements and celebration of life are pending a future date.

The family requests donations to the Gary Sinise Foundation in lieu of flowers.

 

Bob Tutlewski, Crown Point, Ind. 

 Bob “King Tut” Tutlewski died Sunday July 19 after years of battling with cancer, he was 72. He died at the University of Chicago Hospital accompanied by his wife of 48 years Delores. She never left his side just like the handball courts. Bob cut his teeth in the Illinois handball community at Rainbow beach, he will be missed. Here’s a handball poem his son Robbie wrote… 

To the

Handballers   

One wallers 

Shot callers 

Blu ballers 

Kings of the cement 3 wall courts 

 

Kill shot, pass shot 

Tut you had them all 

Bottom board, never short, never out 

With you and butch it was always a brawl 

 

Young ones, old ones 

They never had a chance 

Short ones, fats ones 

You left them dazed in a trance  

 

You weren’t the lightest 

And butch always showed up late 

When you were there 

Your opponent knew there fate 

 

You hit hard and fast 

They never saw you coming 

Your wrap arounds and bottom boards 

Always left them running 

 

Just like the immigrants before you 

Those courts were yours 

Between those cements walls 

You fought battles, you fought wars 

 

You always left friends 

It’s was only a game 

But tut came to win 

His kill shot would put you to shame 

 

Let’s get a drink 

Let’s cheers to the one wallers 

You will always be remembered 

Kings of the courts and the tru handballers

Robert John Tutlewski (Bob or Minnow) of Crown Point, Indiana passed away on July 19, 2020 at 71. He died from cancer, which he bravely fought since 2016. He is survived by his wife Delores Tutlewski (Delich), two sons John and Robert, daughters-in-law Amanda and Kaleigh, his grandchildren Stella and Ben, sister-in-law Sharon, and special girl Eva Escobedo. His daughter Jill, parents Walter and Donna, brother Bill, and dog Boggie will be welcoming him into heaven. Bob was born in Gary, Indiana on December 5, 1948 and attended Lew Wallace High School. He married his wife of 48 years, on July 8, 1972. Their secret to a long, happy marriage was to never go to sleep angry. He was a business owner that provided water treatment services without the use of harmful chemicals. He was a talented handball player who played at Rainbow Beach in Chicago. He was inducted into the Indiana Handball Hall of Fame in 2018. Bob was an avid fisherman and loved to spend time on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota. Bob was fun-loving and made everyone around him feel special. There will be no memorial services at this time due to the pandemic and will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his honor to the University of Chicago Medicine, who provided him with excellent care and treatment, at givetomedicine.uchicago.edu/robert-tutlewski. As Bob would say, “bless your soul, and rock n’ roll.” Burns Funeral Home entrusted with arrangements. www.burnsfuneral.com

 


June 2020

Alan K. Viets, Hamilton, Ohio

 
Feb. 15 1954 – June 27, 2020

Alan K. (“Al”) Viets was born on February 15, 1954 to George and Marjorie (Brooks) in Falls City, Nebraska. He grew up on a farm near Craig, MO, with his older brother, Dan, and his younger sister, Sheila. He graduated from Craig R-III High School in 1972 and was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter's Lutheran Church. In 1976, Al graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

His education and subsequent career in formulation chemistry led Al to a position at Scotts in Marysville, Ohio, where he met Amy Mathews. Having only known one another for less than a year, Al and Amy were married on June 28, 1980 in Kinsman, Ohio, and they embarked on a romantic honeymoon in Hawaii. Amy was the apple of his eye; she was his password, screensaver, and was always on his mind, as he called her from work every day.

Al and Amy had two children – Mary Evelyn Viets and Aaron Daniel Viets. Al was an incredibly caring, kind, and supportive father, who always encouraged silliness and hilarious nicknames and songs (his were the funniest). He made sure that Mary knew how to change the oil in her car and help work on tractors, while Aaron was taught by example to be gentle and patient. His children knew to look to him for comfort when they were upset or sick and never doubted that he would always be there when they needed him.

Al worked as a research and formulations chemist for over 40 years for numerous agricultural chemical companies around the country. He held numerous patents, authored/co-authored several scholarly papers, and spoke on agricultural chemical applications at multiple ASTM symposiums. He served as an editor for numerous editions of Pesticide Formulations and Applications Systems for the ASTM, and he and Amy often traveled overseas for conferences.

Working for Bayer also afforded Al and his family the opportunity to live in Leverkusen, Germany for several years. The family made many important, lifelong friendships during their time in Germany, one of which led to Tobias Ehlich living with the Viets in the US for a year; he has remained a part of the family ever since. During this period, they were also able to travel throughout Europe and even visit Egypt and Zimbabwe. Al was always behind the camera, ensuring that every moment was captured to his satisfaction. His passion for travel and genealogy led him to locate members of the Viets family in Germany, with whom the whole family developed a lasting relationship.

Al was always an active member of a Lutheran congregation, often serving on the church board. He always loved singing in the church choir with Amy, who was usually the director, and his antics during practice provided endless entertainment for everyone involved. He took on many other responsibilities, including teaching Sunday school to confirmation-age students and helping to serve communion as a church elder.

Handball was a lifelong passion for Al. He met some of his closest friends playing this sport and participated in many United States Handball Association tournaments around the country, as well as some international tournaments.

In 2019, Al became a grandpa, when his son Aaron and daugher-in-law Mary had their first child, David Alan Viets. No one loved babies more than Al, and he loved seeing what great parents his son and daughter-in-law were and made sure they knew how proud he was.

Al died June 27, 2020 at the age of 66; he was preceded in death by his mother and father, Marjorie and George Viets of rural Corning, MO. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Amy Viets, his daughter, Mary Evelyn Viets (Michael Robertson) of Cincinnati, OH, and his son, Aaron Daniel Viets (Mary (Berg) Viets), his grandson, David Alan Viets of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, his brother Daniel L. Viets (Sheila Dundon), Columbia, MO, and his sister, Sheila (Viets) Rennison (George Bryan Rennison) of Rolla, MO, and his brother-in-law, Harold Mathews (Ann Mathews) of Perrysburg, OH.

A family-only graveside service will be held on July 10th at 1:00 p.m. at the Craig, MO IOOF Cemetery, and a Memorial Service will be held at a later date.

The family requests that memorials in Al’s memory be made to LCMS World Relief, the Alzheimer’s Association, the U.S. Handball Association, or to the charity of your choice.

Richard V. Pohlmann, Costa Mesa, Calif.


October 2 1938 – June 25, 2020

Richard Pohlmann, a great friend and handball supporter, passed away in his home on June 25, 2020.  Richard Graduated in 1956 from Davenport High School in Davenport, Iowa.  As a young man he played football at Davenport High School.  His nickname was “Red Dog.”  Richard enlisted with the Marines Corps after High School and went to Camp Pendleton, assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.  After serving in the Corps, he enrolled to Iowa State then transfer to Palomar College near San Diego, where he graduated with a Degree.

He was the leading agent for Equitable Life Insurance Company for many years office was in the City of Santa Ana California.  The Santa Ana agency won many awards mainly because of his tenacity in business.  Fred Hubble the owner of Equitable Life of Iowa became a very good friend to Richard over his years of service.

Richard started to play Handball in Davenport Iowa, then in his late 30’s at the Santa Ana YMCA.  He also played at the Rampart Athletic Club, where Tom Gilbert ran all the handball tournaments.  Those were some glorious days!
 
Richard became a member of the University Athletic Club in the early 80’s after the Rampart Club closed.  The rest of us joined the UAC in 1981, where we had some terrific times and great matches too.   Because of Richard’s association with Clark Graves the UAC owner He got Naty Jr, Poncho Monreal and I to become members.  The club had many notable player members, including Mark Shelgren, Frank Fiore, Jaime Paredes, Robert Diaz, Larry Fisher, Larry Smith, Jim VandenBos, Tom Gilbert, Dennis Haynes, Rod Gaspar,  John Bike even Danny Bell joined us.  Other great members and players included: Scott Laidlaw, Joe Fernandez, Dale Phillips, Bruce FaBrizio, Joe Merida, Rick Aguirre, Art Chavez, Nathan Matza, Frank Pirkell, Hal Liberman, Mike Bush, Ralph Sherwin, Clay Cover, Brian Gilmour, Peter Crane, Kelly Kelly, Ernie Maershe “The Kid’, Jack Kirkorn.   Richard was the leader and he was so much fun to be around with.  We really were a close group because of Richard’s attitude and friendship to all human beings.  

When I was a young man, Richard gave me the security of earning an income without punishing my body in handball.  I retired from professional handball over 30 years ago, yet I am still able to count on my insurance license thanks to him.   Numerous individuals have benefited from his existence and friendship.  My family and I owe him for offering us the chance to excel in our lives.  We have done so with his help.  Richard’s life was a highlight, and he left his friends, wonderful memories to have as well.

Richard is survived by his former wife Ex-wife Muriel Pohlmann, his son Mickey Pohlmann, and brother George Pohlmann.  He used to talk to me a lot about his children, Mickey and Debbie.  He was very hurt after his daughter Debbie passed away at the young age of 18.   My consolation about Richard passing away is that he is finally able to be with her again. His career was everything a company (Equitable Life of Iowa) wanted.  He was loyal.  He only wrote insurance cases for them, and they were loyal to him.  His Agency was formed from almost 100% of athletes.  He had basketball players, baseball players, tennis players, and many handball players.
In 1982, Richard secured an interview with Sports Illustrated during the Nationals in Tucson. He paid to fly sportswriter Frandz Lidz out to write an article about handball.   It was an amazing feat to have SI present during the Handball Nationals.

Richard made us do a lot of things we didn’t always want to do.  One of them, after playing handball, was to go to University of City Irvine to watch this kid Scotty Brooks play basketball.  The day we went, Scotty took over the game and they won.  At the next meeting at the Agency Richard made us take our checks out and write a contribution to UCI Basketball.   He followed it up and became great friends with Scotty, who went on to be a professional player and basketball head coach.  He advised and urged me to attend events. Believe me, I did not want to speak in front of people like schools, political events, banquet speeches and social gatherings.  When you’re 25 and your first language is Spanish, it is intimidating!  But he asked me to do it…and when he asked you did it.  He also advised me to write a book on my biography.   I have not done that yet, so I still have things to do.

I can honestly say he was one of the highlights of my career as an agent and as a handball champion.  I joined him in the Insurance business in 1981 after losing to Fred Lewis in Chicago’s USHA Nationals.  When the 1982 season came around I was more financially secure because of my new job.  He allowed me the time to train more.  I was able to win seven titles on a row because I did not have to win every tournament to make money.  My approach to handball changed during that time, and I was able to relax more in the court, resulting in more titles.

Richard Pohlmann donated in many ways to the USHA as a contributor in Advertisement.  He sponsored many handball tournaments.  Most recently, he volunteered his time and energy for a membership drive from his bed, making calls and twisting arms even in his last days.  He never gave up on anything.  He told me one time that a teacher in grade school told him he was never going to amount to anything.  That was the wrong thing to say to Richard Pohlmann!  He showed the world his drive to become successful and he helped a lot of us to be like him.

I wish you offer my special thanks to the following people who have made Richard’s last days a little bit more comforting: Mark Shelgren, Gordon Shields, Scott Laidlaw, Mike Walters, Muriel Pohlmann, Annette Blanchard, Dale Phillips, Larry Fisher, Brian Gilmour and his care taker Jesse Tamaya.  Rest In Peace, Richard Pohlmann.  See you in heaven!

-Naty Alvarado I was very good friends with Dick for over 40 years. He was a unique and special person. He had a lot of compassion and wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always trying to sell cars for me. If I promoted my business the way he did, I’d be rich!  I could write a book about him. Suffice to say, he enjoyed his life immensely and lived it to the fullest every day. Rest In Peace. I love you, Dick.-Larry Fisher The attribute I see in Richard Pohlmann and his friends are their dedication to the sport of handball.  Even from his bedside, Richard would make phone calls nonstop to former players and friends persuading them to renew their handball memberships with USHA.  He is a voice for handball and also the younger generation of players who he wants to see keep playing.  He felt that small ball and big ball shared the common denominator of handball skills and dedication.  He was always talking about ways to get more players involved in the sport, whatever ball or court they chose.  I came to know some of his close friends, Naty Alvarado, Mark Shelgren and Scott Laidlaw.  Richard appreciated their friendship so much.  I spent time with Richard during his last days and while it was hard seeing him go through his illness I have come away realizing that he was a special man.-Annette Blanchard   

 

April 2020

Sheila Maroshick, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Maroshick at her Hall of Fame induction in 2015.
Maroshick at the inagural
USHA One-Wall Nationals.

Hall of Fame player Sheila Maroshick passed away at age 86 on April 11, 2020, from the coronavirus. Inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 2015, Sheila is one of only six women to have achieved that honor and  is only one of two female players in the Hall to have excelled in one-wall. From the late 1940s to the early ’60s, Maroshick won nine singles championships, four USHA National titles and five New York Daily Mirror Parks Department crowns.During her era of domination there were few one-wall tournaments for women.

The AAU, which controlled one-wall during that time, ran its last women’s event in 1945. In 1960, however, the USHA initiated a National Women’s Singles event, which Maroshick won. In ’61 she was runner-up, but from ’62 to ’64 she won again, including decisive victories over the woman who had defeated her in the ’61 final. After ’64, the USHA did not hold another women’s tournament, singles or doubles, until 1981.    Maroshick’s other claim to handball immortality comes from five successive championships in the heralded (and now long defunct) annual New York Daily Mirror Parks Department Tournament, which was extremely difficult to win.  

First, a contestant had to be either winner or runner-up in her local park event. Those two players then were sent to the district event, where they opposed the best players from several other parks. The district winner and runner-up earned the right to play in the borough championships, which consisted of each district’s top two players. 

Finally, the winner and runner-up of each borough faced off against one another in the city final rounds.Maroshick won that difficult and prestigious tournament in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. She likely could have added to that record had not a city official capriciously declared that no one who had won five consecutive years should be allowed to participate in future events. Maroshick was truly never beaten in this tourney. She had been forced into retirement! 

Maroshick is survived by two sisters, including Eileen, with whom she lived for 83 years – from the very day Eileen was born.

“Sheila loved everything she did in her life,” Eileen said. “She was remarkably charitable, giving both her time and money, especially to children’s organizations.  But she actually loved giving to strangers, too.

“She was a gifted athlete with a terrific sense of humor.  She excelled at tennis, too, without ever having taken a single lesson.  When we played doubles together as a team, our opponents would always play me.  And when we’d lose, Sheila would tell our opponents that they didn’t beat her. They beat me.“

"I believe that the highlight of her life was her induction into the National Handball Hall of Fame. She didn’t feel that way just for herself, but also because it was recognition of a woman excelling in sports.  Sheila was a born athlete. She saw handball not only as a game of skill and strength, but, like chess, a game of thinking as well.”

Both sisters became afflicted with COVID-19 during the first quarter of 2020. But Sheila was hit harder. Compromised by high blood pressure and diabetes, she was unable to survive the virus’ attack.She is buried at Mt. Hebron cemetery in Flushing Queens, New York, where, because of the necessity of severe restrictions, few could attend to pay their respects. 

Given the opportunity to compete, Sheila Maroshick consistently played top-level handball. Given the opportunity, I would have paid my respects to a great champion and fine, upstanding woman.

-Dan Flickstein, Monroe Township, N.J. 

John "The Captain" McNulty, Clifton, N.J.

 

John McNulty, affectionately known as "The Captain" passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Monday, April 6, 2020.

John is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Rosalie (Sapio) and children John (Gail), Scott (Lydia), Matthew (Cynthia) and Traci and his adored grandchildren, Jack, Marshall, Laura, Alexa, Gianna and Matthew. He leaves behind sisters, Claire Fitzmaurice, Joan Cherubini and Annmarie Roehrer, several nieces and nephews and was predeceased by his brother Marty.

A highly decorated member of the JCPD. During his 31 years of service he served as Mounted Patrolman, Homicide Sergeant, Internal Affairs Commander, Executive Officer of the Investigative Division and East District Commander. A competitive handball player for over 60 years having won numerous awards and titles. John served his country proudly in the US Air Force from 1953-1957. He was a Board Member of the Jersey City Boys and Girls Club.He was also a founding member & officer of the JCPD Emerald Society.Private Services were held. A Memorial Mass will be announced at a later date.  

 

 

 

 

February 2020

John J. Bike, Tucson, Ariz.

 
Sept. 24, 1933 – Feb. 15, 2020

John Joseph Bike passed peacefully at the age of 86 on the morning of February 15, 2020 in Victorville, CA.

John was born on September 24th, 1933 in Bridgeport, CT. Like his father, from an early age he loved and excelled at sports. He was a top performer on the Central High School football and basketball teams, played football and boxed in the US Army as a Corporal in Germany in the mid 1950’s, and played second base for the nationally ranked Paramount softball team (for which he was inducted into the CT Softball Hall of Fame in 1982). In the 1960’s at the Bridgeport, CT YMCA he began playing handball, a game that he would play for over 50 years, and a game that led to many great lifelong friendships. John won numerous handball tournaments over the years including 3 national championships:

  • 1994 USHA 3-Wall 60+ Doubles with Lou Buckingham
  • 1995 Canadian Open Doubles with John Bike Jr.
  • 1998 USHA 3-Wall 65+ Singles

John met his future wife Maureen Jones at the Berkshire Massachusetts resort, Eastover, in the summer of 1963. Two years later, they wed in Germantown, NY on September 4th, 1965, building a great life together, and perfectly complementing each other.

John was a man of great character, and often chose to lead by example, but John was also always available with helpful tips like: “drink your water”, “move your feet”, “play your game”, “use a slantboard”, ”jump rope”, “take a little hop”, “use a punching bag”, “put a little english on the ball”, and “throw the inshoot”. If you did those things, as his father would say, “you were cooking with gas”.
He was a 63-year member of The Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #777, ultimately starting his own business, B&B Controls, with Maureen, before retiring to Tucson, AZ in 1998. While enjoying retirement he discovered the benefits of the Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club as not only a place to play handball, but to develop lasting friendships with fellow players along with the members of the exercise classes which sustained him. One close friend from the club remembers him as “a warrior with a big heart; a man’s man with a gentle touch”.Bike, his step-mother Inez Barker Bike and her children Jeanne Barker and Lowell Barker, and his immediate siblings, Joseph Bike Jr, Veronica Kutzscher, George Bike, Caroline Collins, and Catherine Raffaeli.

All are invited to share in a celebration of his life on Monday March 30, 2020 at St Pius X Catholic Church at 9 a.m., located at: 1800 N. Camino Pio Decimo, Tucson, AZ 85715-4504

Donations may be made in his name to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (curealz.org).

 

Robert W. Schoning, Corvallis, Ore.

 
Sept. 29, 1923 – Feb. 14, 2020

Longtime Corvallis resident, noted fisheries expert and family patriarch, Robert (“Bob”) Schoning, Colonel, USMC (Ret) passed away on February 14, 2020, at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice in Albany at the age of 96.He was born September 29, 1923, in Seattle, Washington to Nils Wilhelm and Olive Jeanette (Anderson) Schoning. He grew up in Seattle, attended Stevens Grade School, graduated from Garfield High School and entered the University of Washington, where he began playing handball.

After the United States entered WWII during his second year of college and knowing he would be drafted, he chose instead to enlist in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1942, mainly because his father had been a Marine during WWI. While in college, he attended boot camp and officer training school. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Fisheries in 1944. In May 1945, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and sent overseas to China.

He returned from China in 1946 and chose to stay in the active reserves. He went back to the University of Washington for graduate work in fisheries, but did not finish his master’s studies. Instead, in 1947, he began working for the Oregon Fish Commission (OFC) as a field biologist stationed on the Columbia River. At this time, he was offered an athletic membership at the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC). For the next 23 years, Bob Schoning became the dominant handball player in the Northwest, winning 59 titles in 90 tournament events.

In August 1950, Bob was recalled to active military duty, and a month later his unit was sent to Korea where he remained for the next year. He was involved in the Chosen Reservoir Campaign and was later awarded the Bronze Star for his courage in action on 14 February 1951. He remained in the active reserves until the mid-1970s when he transferred to the inactive reserves due to his civilian responsibilities in Washington, D.C. He officially retired from the U.S. Marine Corps on 29 Sept 1983 with the rank of colonel.

After returning from Korea in 1952, Bob married Barbara and resumed his work with the OFC. Over the next eighteen years, he worked as a fisheries biologist, Director of Research, and ultimately, Oregon State Fisheries Director. He continued playing handball and received third place in the 1968 national U.S. Handball Association Open Doubles tournament.

In 1971, after twenty-four years with the OFC, Bob moved to Washington, DC, and worked as the Deputy Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In 1973, he became the Director of the NMFS, where he helped formulate the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which established a 200-mile fishery conservation zone buffering the United States’ shorelines. This legislation made a massive impact on commercial fishing operations around the world and almost every other fishing country later created a similar law. It was one of his proudest accomplishments.

In 1978, Bob returned to Oregon, joining Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife as a visiting professor. He and Barbara had divorced after raising four sons. Bob remained at OSU until June 1982 when he switched to being a private consultant. That same month, he married Sandra. He was named the Fishery Worker of the Year by the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in 1985 and returned to Oregon State in Jan 1986 as courtesy faculty with Fisheries and Wildlife. The next year, he received the OSU Distinguished Service Award. He joined the advisory board of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and continued to serve there until finally retiring in 2011 at the age of eight-eight. In 2002, OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences named him a Diamond Pioneer and in 2007, he was inducted into OSU’s Hall of Fame. Bob had also been inducted into Garfield High School’s “Golden Grads” Hall of Fame in 1994. Bob and Sandra were married for 25 years until their divorce.

Overall, Bob worked for the government at various levels for fifty-three years. He also served for a combined total of fifteen years as a presidentially-appointed commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. He was a lifetime member of the Military Officers Association of America (formerly called The Retired Officers’ Association or TROAA), a dedicated member of various golf country clubs and an active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Corvallis for many years.

Some of Bob’s happiest memories were the many summer vacations his family spent out at Camp on Vashon Island with extended family at what was originally Grandma Anderson’s cabin and where he and Bill had spent time in their youth. Throughout his life, Bob participated in various sports and outside activities. He played several sports in high school and college and in addition to becoming a noted handball champion, he was also a lifelong golfer and avid salmon fisherman well into his retirement and beyond. After retirement, he continued to travel frequently to visit his brother in Seabeck, Washington, and one year, Bob and Bill (along with two others) motored Bill’s boat up to Alaska on a salmon-fishing trip. The two brothers also enjoyed various golfing trips together. In 2004, two of Bob’s sons (Randy and Kerry) took Bob on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Norway for his 80th birthday to visit his dad’s birthplace and cousins Randi and Ingrid. The cousins had also visited with Bob in Corvallis and at Seabeck on several occasions. Bob very actively supported OSU’s various sports teams and thoroughly enjoyed being able to attend local games and interact with the coaches and team players. If game night included a trip to the local KFC or some homemade tacos and a rousing game of Mexican Train, that was even better! All were his favorites and he enjoyed having company.

Like many of the “Greatest Generation”, Bob remained modest about his many accomplishments and awards and preferred to let the light shine on others. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and firmly believed that anything worth doing was worth doing well. If someone said it couldn’t be done, he asked “How could we do it” or “How can I help?” He always credited his parents and Grandma Anderson for his work ethic and willingness to go that extra step without being asked.

His passing leaves an irreplaceable hole in our family tapestry, but his spirit, values, and example, his love for family, God, and country, his charisma and wonderful stories will live on in our hearts and in our memories. He made a difference in the lives of so many and he will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, Bob!

He is survived by his four sons Randy, Kerry, Jim and Kip; three grandchildren Tiffany, Zane and Chimay; two nieces Cathy and Judy; two nephews Mark and Craig; four maternal cousins Paul, Rolf, Steven and Maren; and paternal cousins in Norway. He was preceded in death by his parents; the mother of his boys, Barbara; a nephew, Gary; his beloved brother, Bill and his sister-in-law, Gayjoy and his cousin Ingrid in Norway. He is also survived by Lynn Edwards and Sandra Schoning.

A celebration of life will be held at Grace Lutheran Church, 435 NW 21st Street in Corvallis at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. His ashes will be interned later in Seattle next to his brother at his request. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in Bob’s name to a charity of your choice or to Oregon State U.

William "Bill" Brady, Fargo, N.D.

 

William “Bill” Brady, 85, Fargo passed away Thursday, February 13, 2020, at Edgewood Vista, Fargo.

Bill was born August 29, 1934, to John and Anne (Anderson) Brady. He graduated from Mayville High School in 1952 where he excelled in both basketball and baseball. He attended NDSU before transferring to Mayville State, where he graduated with a degree in teaching. Bill began his teaching and coaching career in Lakota, ND before moving to Ada, MN, where he taught mathematics and coached basketball. He brought his team to the MN State Tournament in 1962. Bill married Bernadine “Dina” Eid on August 17, 1963. They lived in Cambridge, MN for 2 years before moving to Devils Lake, ND where he taught and coached at the Junior College. They later moved to Athens, GA where he furthered his education at the University of Georgia. Known as a human calculator, Bill earned his Doctorate in Statistics.

After completing his doctorate, Bill took a job at St. Cloud State for a year before moving to Fargo. He then worked for 20 years as an administrator for the Fargo Public Schools System. Retirement allowed Bill and Dina to spend their winters in Mesa, Arizona where Bill enjoyed playing tennis and pickleball.

Bill loved sports. In college, he played baseball and basketball. After college, he added racquetball, handball, and tennis. No one would know by his humble demeanor that he was inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, the North Dakota State Handball Hall of Fame, and the Mayville State University Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife Dina, Fargo, ND; children, Robyn (Karl) Borge, La Crosse, WI, Reid (Sarah) Brady, Fargo, ND, Erin (George) Watson, Wahpeton, ND; 8 grandchildren, Kolter Borge, Joy Watson, Meg Watson, Kaitlyn Borge, Maura Brady, Elsie Brady, Cray John Brady and Juliana Brady.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anne Brady.

The family would like to give a special thank you to Edgewood Vista for their wonderful care and friendship.

In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to the Parkinson’s Foundation (marvbossartfoundation.org).

January 2020

Phil McLaughlin, Alton, Ill.

 

Phil McLaughlin (1944 - 2020) the Irish Whip.  Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Phil arrived in the USA in his early 20’s and was promptly drafted into the US Army. He completed his service and gained US citizenship. He moved to Alton, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.Phil won 12 Missouri State Handball Championships, including a 7-year run in the 40+ singles division from 1984 through 1990 and a 50+ singles division in 1999. He also won doubles championships with 4 different partners - the 1996 40+ division with Steve Campbell, the 1999 50+ division with Phil Bracken, the 2005 60+ division with Jim Ward, and the 2012 65+ division with Gary Brake. He was inducted into the Missouri Handball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Phil won the YMCA 40+ National Championship as well as a number of tournaments in Kansas City and throughout Illinois - Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington, Alton. He didn’t just play, he worked as tournament director of the Alton tournament, and he was a fixture helping out and greeting players at the Missouri State tournaments and the St. Louis Handball League. Phil was a long-time member of the St. Louis Hinder Club where he was elected to the Board of Directors.

Like many of his countrymen, Phil was quiet until you got him started on the subject of handball. He often shared his insights into the strategies and finer points of the game with veterans and novices alike. Phil was a non-discriminatory handball player - any race, creed, color, young, old, good, bad - he beat us all.

Ron Emberg, Houston, Texas

 

On Jan. 18, 2020, Ronald Edward Emberg, 90 years, while surrounded by family and friends, was lovingly embraced and escorted by angels to the gates of heaven, where his father, George Emberg, and his mother, Evelyn Emberg and sister, Dixie Emberg, were waiting for him.

He passed away at his residence, in Houston, Texas. He was born, May 6, 1929, in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served in the Armed Forces, as a radio operator, during the Korean War. He studied Petroleum Engineering, at the University of Houston. He was on the Houston Downtown YMCA Board of Directors. He was on the Board of Directors of the United States Handball Association (USHA).  In 1995, he was inducted into the USHA National Handball Hall of Fame. He won the USHA National Masters invitational and National 4 Wall Championship for ages 60, 65, and 70 in Doubles and Singles.

He was the CEO of AVR, Inc., an Ad Valorem tax and utility billing software company in Houston, Texas. In 1959, he started in the business. Over sixty years, his leadership guided multiple employees, during the changing times in the utility billing industry. He changed the lives of generations of families, who were his loyal employees.

He was proud to be an American. Besides loving playing Handball, he loved sports, travel, and woodworking around the house.  He lived his life as an honorable and loving man to his family, friends, and employees. He never wavered from his ethics, trustworthiness, and commitment to those individuals blessed enough to have known him.  He contributed, without hesitation, to anyone in need. He dearly loved his own family and his AVR family.

He is survived by Susan Emberg, his wife and business partner of 32 years, his daughters, Ree Emberg, Kelly Emberg and husband, Mike Padilla, his son, Mike Emberg, his daughter, Tamera Galdamez and husband, Jose Galdamez, and daughter, Theresa Rodriguez and husband, Stephen Rodriguez, his grandchildren, Ren Nelson, Dixie Mattingly, Thomas Gasper, Hannah Gasper, Ruby Stewart, Tyler Jenkel, Cole Brodin, Cheney Emberg, Jade Galdamez, Jacob Galdamez, Chloe Galdamez, Leah Galdamez, Emily Galdamez, Mia Rodriguez, Ava Rodriguez, Christian Rodriguez and 7 great-grandchildren, his sister, Phyllis Aisbet, his sister-in-law, Zell Reeves, his sister-in-law, Jody Rogers, and multiple nieces and nephews.HANDBALL MAGAZINE's Tribute to Ron Emberg.

Ken Smolack, Manalapan, N.J.

Friends and Family Share Fond memories of "Meatball"

  • Bill Kennedy
         Longtime New York/New Jersey handball player and supporter of the game, Kenny Smolack, 73, passed away Jan. 9 in a New Jersey hospital.
         Kenny was an age-group runner-up to Dennis Hofflander in the 1964 national junior tournament as a player out of the fabled Castle Hill Club in the Bronx. As an adult, he was better known for his doubles play with partner Richie Greenwald, with whom he regularly challenged for the East Area championship.
         Kenny won numerous weekend tournament championships with a variety of partners, including Greenwald, John Marra Jr., Mike Meltzer, Lou Russo, and Bobby Harbatkin. He was perhaps more famous for being the author of a Handball magazine column,  “The Meatball Corner,”  published for more than 30 years.
         He ardently supported youth handball, running many tournaments and raising money for juniors to attend national and regional events.
    At his funeral  Jan. 14,  he was eulogized by Fred Lewis, Meltzer, his cousin Michael Levine and his stepson Fred Munsch Jr. He leaves his wife, Evelyn, stepsons Fred and Ed, stepdaughter Samantha, and three grandsons.
  • Howie Eisenberg
          The world of handball lost a formidable player, an important contributor, and a unique perspective with the passing of Ken Smolack. With his love of the game and lifelong involvement augmented by his benevolent objective commentary and recommendations, he was an outspoken proponent for the betterment of our sport. Even more importantly, Ken was a warm, loving person and a loyal friend. I will miss him greatly.
  • Mike Meltzer
         Kenny and I were friends since we were 6 years old. We met at the famous Castle Hill Beach Club in the Bronx. Handball was the game we loved and played every summer day. Together, we won many tournaments. He also won numerous tournaments with other partners. In addition, we ran many local tournaments where he supplied the hospitality, using his connections in the food industry. Kenny had a gruff exterior but a heart of gold. The Meltzer family will certainly miss their  “Uncle Kenny.”
  • Fred Lewis
        
    As I have said many times, one of the great benefits of playing handball over a lifetime is the friendships you acquire along the way.
         Kenny and I became acquainted over 65 years ago as members of the Castle Hill Beach Club in New York. Kenny was affectionately known as “Meatball” because he would walk around the club eating his grandmother’s meatballs from a plastic container. We were competitors in junior tournaments and then teamed up as partners in doubles tournaments.
         Kenny developed into a right-side doubles specialist, teaming with the likes of Lou Russo, Richie Greenwald, Jay Garsman, and others to win many championships. One of Kenny’s major accomplishments was coming in runner-up to Dennis Hofflander in the 1964 USHA junior national championships. Kenny scored in double figures against Hofflander, who crushed everyone else. (Dennis left me at 0 and 1 in the semifinals.)
    After I left New York for Miami and eventually Tucson, Kenny and I continued to keep in close contact. We would see each other at tournaments and often vacationed together in Las Vegas. I felt very proud when Kenny spoke on my behalf at my Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1993.
         Perhaps we were never closer than the last six months of his life, when he became very ill and bedridden. I tried to call him every day and offer words of encouragement. We talked about our families, handball, politics, and our favorite foods. Now that he is gone there is a huge void in my life. However, the great memories will be here forever.
  • Fred Munsch Jr.
        
    An old friend, a best friend, a confidant, a husband, a father-in-law, a Pop-Pop and a stepdad. These were some of the “titles” that Kenny Smolack took on as he became closer and a more integral part of my family.  
    The last title I mentioned was  “stepdad.”  While technically that is what he was to me, he was so much more than that. I was blessed to have known Kenny my entire life, but he took on a different role in the mid-1990s when he and my mom got married.  
         Over the 25 years that Mom and Kenny were married, Kenny became one of my closest friends and confidants. He was there for me as I entered the wonderful world of  “adulting.”  He helped me navigate those early years, and then as the years progressed, we seemed to be there for each other, always there to bounce an idea off one another.  
         As I got to know Kenny better, I realized what a kind and generous person he was. He was always there for someone whenever they needed it. Over the years, I came to appreciate Kenny’s love for food, cooking, and Frank Sinatra! He would always have us over for Passover and Rosh Hashanah, where I learned how to make a mean brisket and his trick to making a great matzo ball soup.  
    In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Kenny became “Pop-Pop” to my boys. Kenny epitomized the idea of a “doting grandfather.” He was there for countless ballgames and was their biggest fan, both on and off the field. For anyone who was willing to lend an ear, he would love to tell stories about what the boys were doing, what they accomplished, or just about the last conversation he had with them. Each one held a special place in his heart, and he holds a special place in all of our hearts.
         These past few months have been tough, but we are moving along. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think of him, reminisce about him and miss him. Until we meet again, my friend and Pop-Pop, we love you!