By STU SWARTZ
THE GOSHEN NEWS
They are all gone now — a group of gentlemen who were teachers and coaches during a golden era for education and athletics at Goshen High School.
Hank Clason, a 1938 graduate of GHS, died earlier this week at the age of 93. Up until that time, he may have been the oldest living former athlete of the school.
Clason later returned to his alma mater in 1953, teaching world history and civics. He was boys basketball coach two years and also was involved in coaching track and cross country.
During the 1950s and early 1960s he was joined by the likes of Don Yoder, Ralph Peterson, Tom Sovine, Jim Phend, Phil Michel, Bud Rogers, Beets Hoke, Ernie Sample and Paul Underwood in forming a dedicated athletic team in the Goshen schools program.
Clason was leading scorer on the GHS basketball team three consecutive seasons under the coaching of Hermie Byers. The Redskins won a sectional in his sophomore year.
Among teammates from 1936-38 were Phil Stump, Carl Warstler, Phend, Sample, Hoke, Dan Chiddister, Jim McConnell, Jay Peffley, Eldy Darr, George Westfall, Junior Herring, Jim Hoogenboom, Jim Miltenberger and Ned Wohlford.
Clason was twice an all-Northern Indiana Conference selection, leading the league in scoring as a senior. He was all-sectional twice, all-county and all-state honorable mention in 1938.
A four-year letterwinner in track and field, Clason held the Goshen shot put record for about a decade.
After graduation from GHS, Clason went on to Northwestern University where he lettered three years in basketball and was Wildcats team captain in 1942. He was named to the All-Big 10 team as a junior and played for a Big 10 champion Northwestern baseball team.
Clason did not play baseball at Goshen High School as the sport was not part of the athletic program from 1930-56 for financial reasons.
Clason was a U.S. Marine from 1942-47 and later a major in the Marine Corps Reserves.
He began his teaching-coaching career at Topeka High School before returning to Goshen. He retired in the mid-1980s.
Clason’s photograph is among those in the Goshen High School “Wall of Fame,” located in the hallways of the gymnasium.
He is also a member of the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame and served as honorary referee of the boys track and field Goshen Relays in 1963.
In 1963, Clason was honored with a spot on the Indiana boys basketball “Silver Anniversary” team, honoring the top senior players from 1938.
Summer months back in the 1960s were spent by Clason at Shanklin Park as director of the Goshen Park and Recreation Department’s boys baseball league for players ages 12 and 13.
Coach Clason was also a devoted follower of the Chicago Cubs which led to some interesting discussions with this lifelong White Sox fan.
It was a privilege to be in school during the days of Clason, Hoke, Phend, Sample and others mentioned before.
Their legends remain a part of the rich GHS history.