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A tribute to Beth Holtz

August 19, 2012
The Review

Dear Editor:

Beth Barcus Holtz was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, just prior to the beginning of World War II, one of three daughters to John "Bus" Barcus and Eleanor Czech Barcus. On July 22, 1961, she married Louis Leo Holtz and her life would be dramatically changed forever. As her husband began a meteoric rise to the top of his chosen profession, Beth was busy raising their four children, balancing family life with the game of football.

Shortly after Lou moved from the position of head football coach at the University of Notre Dame to the University of South Carolina, Beth was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer. She accepted the news with calmness and resolve, relying on her faith and the doctors at the University of Florida's Shands Cancer Center, along with those at the Mayo Clinic. Following surgery and months of specialized treatment, Beth was able to return to a nearly normal life as she resumed her role as wife, mother, grandmother and a true inspiration for her legion of friends and family members.

When the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame was first suggested in 1997, Coach rejected the idea. He later agreed if we would abstain from honoring him, but rather those individuals in the Upper Ohio Valley with significant accomplishments in other fields such as medicine, religion, entertainment, sports, business and industry. Most of all, Lou expressed his desire to launch the project as a tribute to Beth, because of her deep roots in East Liverpool. He exclaimed, "Even though I was graduated from East Liverpool High School, my place of birth was in Follansbee, but Beth was born in East Liverpool, and she is the reason I want to do this."

And do it he did, as 15 years later there are three floors in the former Bank One building on East Fifth Street packed with memorabilia from 74 individual inductees and seven families honored with the Family Heritage Award, along with a virtual history of the upper Ohio Valley. This ranges from an outstanding model train display to East Liverpool's first horse-drawn fire engine. There is virtually something for all ages, including a "Pretty Boy" Floyd diorama, the original Rock Springs Park carousel's band organ and the largest collection of ELHS football history known to exist anywhere.

On August 1, we completed our finest event to date when more than 500 people jammed into the new Alumni Hall at Midland's Lincoln Park for a first-class dinner. They then walked across the street to the theater for an evening to remember, featuring an all-star cast.

For starters, Mark May, Lou's partner on ESPN, served as an excellent master of ceremonies, going through a litany of introductions ranging from the Chancellor of his alma mater, The University of Pittsburgh, Mark A. Nordenberg, to trustees and past inductees of the Hall of Fame. It was our pleasure to present Mark May with the Hall's second "Lifetime Achievement Award". The initial recipient of the award in 2011 was Coach Larry Kehres, head football coach at the University of Mount Union.

Putting on this event is a genuine challenge, but our Hall of Fame staff, consisting of director Robin Webster, Rosie Mackall and Joe Hendricks, went above-and-beyond, keeping dozens of balls in the air at the same time to be certain our inductees Roger Glunt, Jim Pastore, the Nutting Family, Rob and Karrin Campf, along with United States House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner were properly recognized.

To all the people who assisted this year, a special thanks! From ESPN producer Gerry Matalon to the staff of the Sturgis House, along with my personal assistant, Roberta Pennybaker you are all special. I would be remiss if I did not mention Liz Holtz Messaglia, and her husband, Mike, who drove from Indianapolis with their family to be part of the activities.

Finally master communicator Jim Connelly and Amber Lattner, an All-American Soccer player at Notre Dame, formed a dynamic team. They spoke to our scholarship and teacher grant recipients as did Coach Holtz who continues to financially support this portion of the evening. All present remain extremely grateful for this annual commitment.

On the afternoon of the event, as Robin and Rosie worked on one hundred and one details in the office of the Hall of Fame before Joe took the last van load of paraphernalia to Lincoln Park, who do you suppose was there offering encouragement, poignant thoughts and her own modest recollections of the role she has played in our success? It was the girl from the Klondike section of East Liverpool, Beth Barcus Holtz, evoking this thought from Isaiah 40:31: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint."

Frank "Digger" Dawson

president, Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame



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