Posts Tagged ‘Albright College’

Lone Star to be Inducted

June 6, 2008

The College Football Hall of Fame may have snubbed Lone Star Dietz but Albright College hasn’t. Rick Ferry, Albright’s athletic director, informed me that Lone Star Dietz is to be inducted into the Red and White’s Hall of Fame on October 17. One of Lone Star’s problems in being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame is that few of the sports writers and athletic directors on the Honors Committee are familiar with him or his record. Fortunately, the situation is different at Albright College. Two of the paintings that Lone Star donated to the College, the Albright Lion and a portrait of All-American Dick Riffle, hang where the public can see them in the Bollman Center. Also, photos of Dietz’s teams hang in the equipment cage. If one wants to venture off to other parts of the campus his paintings can be found in other buildings as well.

Another advantage Albright has is that a few people who knew him are still alive and remember him well. One of my pleasures in giving book talks is that one of his old players would sometimes show up. Their stories are wonderful. They often show us a side of Dietz of which we were unaware. Sometimes a child of a deceased player contacts me and shares stories that his father told him about Coach. As great a coach as Dietz was I sometimes think he had more impact on his boys off the field. It will be great to attend the ceremony and see Lone Star receive his due. Now I must revise his chapter in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs before it goes to press. But that will be a pleasure.  



Gus Cohen, Albright College ’40

June 4, 2008

It is with much sadness that I share the following message received today from Sheldon Cohen:

My Dad, Gus Cohen, played for Lone Star at Albright.  Gus passed away last Tuesday evening, May 27, 2008, at 7:15 P.M. very quietly after having been completely crippled by 2 strokes in February, 2005.  Gus was an All-East and 2nd or 3rd team All-American in 1939-1940 and later signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL.  He was a member of the PA/Berks Sports Hall of Fame and won a Silver Star and multiple Bronze Stars in WWII.  He was a devoted alum who was President of the Varsity Club at Albright and recruited a number of student-athletes over the years.  Most recently, he had endowed the Gus Cohen Class of 1940 scholarship fund at Albright.


Having become fatherless at 6, Lone Star became Gus’s second father.


One of the things I learned when talking with Lone Star’s former players at Albright College was that he was a disciplinarian in a good way and made an impact on the young men in his charge. Below is a scan of Gus’s photo from a friend’s senior yearbook.





Booktalk surprises

March 18, 2008

It was almost two years ago that I gave my first booktalk on Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz. Things went smoothly until the question and answer session when a gentleman informed me that a photo in my book had an incorrect caption. The caption below a photo on page 290 of two men in business suits flanking a smaller young man in his Albright College  football uniform read, “Jim Thorpe shows Leo Disend some tricks as Lone Star looks on.” There can’t be anything wrong with that, I thought, because it came straight from an Albright College yearbook. Also, I knew what Jim Thorpe and Lone Star Dietz looked like, so it couldn’t be wrong. Or so I thought.

The gentleman then informed me that the player in the photo was not Leo Disend. He didn’t know who it was but he was sure it wasn’t Moose, as Leo was better known as. The man identified himself as Sid Disend, Leo’s bother. Well, I couldn’t argue with him because he surely knew what his brother looked like. He also said that the layer in the photo was not wearing Leo’s number. I then had to find out who the mysterious number 31 in the photo was.

The next day I emailed Francine Scoboria, Manager of Advancement Communications at Albright College, to inform her of this long-standing error. She researched the issue and found that the mystery man was John Killiany, class of 1946, varsity quarterback.

The lesson in this was that errors made decades earlier, this time over 60 years before, often are assumed to be correct years later. So, when you’re researching the past, don’t be surprised when you encounter conflicting information. Either or both source may be wrong.

Now I’m off to research the great Dickinson College crockery riot of 1912.

April 8, 2008

It is with sadness I report seeing the following in today’s Harrisburg Patriot-News:

Sidney DisendSid Disend, 86, of Harrisburg, died Sunday April 6, 2008 at the Carolyn Croxton Slane Hospice Residence on Linglestown Road.
Born in Roselle, NJ, he was the son of Samuel and Sarah Disend. Sid graduated from Albright College in Reading, PA with a degree in Education then served his country in World War II at the Battle of the Bulge in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in the 95th Division, Field Artillery.
He was the owner/operator of Ess & Dee Venetian Blind Company then retired as Regional Sales Manager for the R.W. Norman Company of Salisbury, NC, responsible for the entire Northeast territory.
He was a member of Temple Ohev Sholom, a member of the Brotherhood, and Principal of the Religious School. He was the Past President of the Harrisburg Jaycees, and the recipient of their first Honorary Life Membership. He was the Founder and Past President of the Wilson Park Civic Association, Founder and Past President of the Latshmere Crime Watch, a charter member of the Susquehanna Rovers Volksport Association, and a founding member of the Capital Area Greenbelt Association.
Sid was also an active volunteer at the Harrisburg State Hospital, the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg, a Dispatcher for the Susquehanna Township’s Indian Wheels, an Instructor with the Literacy Council, and, with his wife Shirley, was responsible for the development of the “Five Senses Gardens, on the Greenbelt.
Sid is survived by his wife of 64 years, Shirley, son Jeff and his wife Kay of Atlanta, son Randy of Harrisburg, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. in the Bookstaber Chapel of Mount Moriah Cemetery. An additional memorial service will be held in the Manor at Oakridge, 4500 Oakhurst Blvd., Harrisburg, PA on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
Arrangements by Fackler-Wiedeman Funeral Home, Harrisburg. There will be no viewing or visitation.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Five Senses Gardens, c/o Capital Area Greenbelt Association, P.O. Box 15404, Harrisburg, PA 17105 or Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, P.O. Box 206, Enola, PA 17025.
Sid has donated his body to science through the Humanity Gifts Registry at the Hershey Medical Center.



March 7, 2008

Welcome to my world. For most of the new century I have been researching the lives of Carlisle Indian School football stars, something that has been a very rewarding experience. Along the way we – my wife Ann assists in the research and sometimes finds some unexpected things – have met some interesting and very helpful people. We have also discovered things for which we can’t find places in the books but which people may find interesting. Let’s start with something recent.

In the summer of 2002, Ann and I took a tour of Tanzania with a group of 10 people. At night when we were all assembled for the first time, the guide subjected us to the dreaded circle routine. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I said that I was writing a book on Lone Star Dietz. A woman a couple of places away from me in the circle responded, “Do you mean Lone Star Dietz the football coach?” I responded in the affirmative and asked how she knew about him. The woman – Betty Tyler – informed me that, when she was a child the Dietzes lived next door to her in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he coached the Albright College football team at that time. I was shocked to meet someone who actually knew Dietz in a group of 10 people on the other side of the world.

Betty’s mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was living near Charleston, South Carolina at the time and, although in her 90s, had a very clear mind. That fall Ann and I visited some friends in Charleston – the ones who arranged the Africa trip – so I could interview Mrs. Hawkins. Dorothy was a lovely person and shared information about Lone Star that one cannot find in newspaper reports or public files. She was very helpful, especially because she and her family moved to Pittsburgh and kept in contact with the Dietzes who were also living there after the war. Through Betty and her mother I was also able to interview Betty’s brother. That interview was conducted over the phone because he lives in San Francisco. He recalled Lone Star parading up and down the street in his Sioux regalia and challenging the kids to tug on his pitch-black hair to show that it was all real.

Late last year we received some sad news: Dorothy Hawkins had died. In addition to the bad news, Betty Tyler gave us some good news. Betty’s mother had a painting Lone Star gave her many years ago and Betty didn’t have a place for it in her house. Knowing that I was so interested in Lone Star and would appreciate it, she gave it to me. What good fortune! Now I must reorganize my already cluttered office to give it an appropriate place on the wall.

To learn more about Lone Star Dietz, check out To learn more about my upcoming book, check out If you’re interested in seeing video previews for the books, look at

Now I must go to the Cumberland County Historical Society to look at the Jim Thorpe letters they just acquired. More on that later.