‘WOODY’ REMEMBERS

‘WOODY’ REMEMBERS: Elmer Wood, who has kept scorebooks for Logansport athletics and served as a timekeeper, is never on the clock when it comes to serving as an athletic official. He has attended more than 4,000 Logansport sporting events. (Angi Turnpaugh/Pharos-Tribune)

By DAVE KITCHELL

Pharos-Tribune staff writer



In order of his true loves, Elmer Wood has been married for 64 years, he has two children and three grandchildren, he served his country twice and he truly supports Logansport athletics.

The last item is the one that has made him a familiar face at local sporting events at all levels for more than 60 years. On Friday and Saturday nights, he usually makes it to a stadium or a gym, often wearing a black-and-white striped shirt.

“It’s just great to be associated with youth, that’s the main thing,” the 82-year-old Wood said Thursday afternoon. “It’s feeling that you might have helped them along the way.”

Along the way of his own life, Wood was an end for the Logansport football team and a member of the track team before he graduated in 1942. He never starred on the gridiron, but he played both ways. Because of the times he lived, he served in the Marines in the South Pacific. After returning to Logansport and working for the Pharos-Tribune as a linotype operator and photo compositor, he served stateside during the Korean conflict.

Through it all, he still supported Logansport’s athletic program, serving in any way he could from being a referee for middle school and freshman games to working the varsity level.

His career highlight may come this month. On Sept. 16 when Logansport and all seven other North Central Conference schools play at the RCA Dome, Elmer will be there working as the official timekeeper.

“It’s our home game and he’s our timekeeper,” Athletic Director Greg Fisher said. “He’ll be there.”

Fisher said the decision to have Wood run the clock was one the athletic staff made.

Would Wood ever run the clock in favor of the home team?

“Never,” Fisher says. “He’s the most honest man I know.

“For him to have such a part in it, I’m glad for him. He has been a big part of Logansport athletics for many, many years. Even if it’s running the clock, it’s an important step that Elmer and many people like him do for athletics. Many times it’s overlooked, but we wanted Elmer to have the opportunity.”

Wood has been retired from the Pharos-Tribune since 1986. Since then, he has taken his wife, former Cass County Clerk Mishia Wood, to hundreds of games, many in a wheelchair.

He sometimes has been a more active participant than he would like to be. Take for instance the basketball game two years ago when current Indiana All-Star candidate K.C. Victor leaped over the scorer’s table and into Wood’s lap, knocking him backward. Wood smiled and rebounded.

“He apologized,” Wood said with a laugh. “Even his dad apologized. K.C. was just hustling.”

It’s part of being an official, and Wood has been one for many years. Former Elementary Athletic Director Don Crain sought him out in the 1950s along with Joe Savini and Larry Firmani to work elementary games. Fred Kinder, who died last month, had a 30-year career in track and cross country at Logansport. He also was one of Wood’s friends, and Wood remembers lining the track by hand in the days when it was made of cinders. Wood ran the 440 and was a high jumper in high school, and he has always loved track.

Along the way, he has picked up interest in volleyball, along with memories of great basketball players he has seen: Former Peru Mr. Basketball Kyle Macy, Logansport All-Star Mark Lozier, Washington Township and Purdue star Carl McNulty and Logansport’s Dalen Showalter who played at Tennessee.

His daughter, Candy Heath, says had he not graduated from high school during the middle of World War II, he would have gone to college and been a teacher and coach.

“If he could have gone on to college he would have been a fantastic teacher and coach because he had all the patience in the world.”

But Wood served his country when he graduated from high school.

“It was something I felt I needed to do. I was just 18,” he says.

“I was like everybody else at the time. I got drafted. We got to choose where we went and I went into the Marine Corps.”

He served on the Marshall Islands and the Marianas before coming home to more Berry games.

Some of those contests were not exactly competitive. Logansport football fortunes had an up and down years, including the dominant years of Richmond and Marion.

“It was 81-0 if I recall right,” Wood recalls of one whipping at the hands of Richmond.

But Wood was always around to do what had to be done for the athletic program. In the days before Logansport teams traveled on buses to away games, he had a station wagon. Candy remembers traveling as a 4-year-old girl to away games with her dad and several of the basketball players.

His own son, Mike, was a Berries quarterback and went on to set several records at Anderson University.

“My dad ate it up because he was with the kids all the time,” she says.

“Everybody loves him and he loves kids and it’s very obvious when you see him with a group of kids.”

LHS Assistant Basketball Coach Bill Champion came through the Logansport system and also was a referee. He knows his face has probably been the most familiar at the Berry Bowl and the LHS stadium known as the Berry Patch.

“No one has been to more Logansport athletic contests than Elmer Wood, period,” Champion says.

“He epitomizes Logansport athletics and somebody who has been through thick and thin, it’s him.

“He is a great role model for the kids. It’s not about just when things are good. I want my kids to be around people like that. I want my players to be around people like that. There are not many people like that around anymore.”

Dave Kitchell may be contacted at 722-5000, Ext. 5150, or via e-mail at david.kitchell@pharostribune.com

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