The longtime Putnam athletic director is honored by his peers

by: SUBMITTED - Bill FoelkerBill Foelker, longtime athletic director at Milwaukie and Rex Putnam high schools, has been inducted into the Oregon High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame.

Foelker, who passed away in March 2012 at the age of 89, served as athletic director at Milwaukie High School for eight years, from 1955 through 1963; and for 19 years at Putnam, from 1963 until his retirement in 1982. He was the first athletic director at Putnam and he did double duty during the school’s first year, continuing as athletic director at Milwaukie, while hiring coaches and getting things up to speed at Putnam.

Foelker was inducted at the 2013 Oregon High School Athletic Directors Hall of Fame Banquet, held April 13 in Sunriver. He was inducted along with Larry Johnson (Sweet Home), Dwayne Huddleston (Warrenton), Tom Jenkins (Marshfield), Pete Russo (West Linn and Wilsonville) and Jerry Westerholm (Seaside).

Foelker’s sons, John and Scott, attended the induction ceremonies, along with their spouses Robin and Colleen, Foelker’s granddaughters Dina and Lacey and their spouses, and retired Putnam baseball coach Larry Hermo and his wife Sharon.

“My dad kind of shunned the limelight and always gave credit to those around him,” John Foelker said of his father. “But I think he would have been thrilled, especially since this was an honor bestowed upon him by his peers. He would have been quite proud.”

John Foelker added, “I’m thrilled [that my dad received the honor]. I only wish that it could have happened earlier, so that we could have gone together.”

Bill Foelker graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1940, where he played multiple sports and was a star fullback and team captain in football. He went on to play football at Pacific University, only to have his studies interrupted by World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in August of 1942, where he advanced to the rank of second lieutenant before leaving active duty in April of 1946.

At his death early last year, Bill Foelker and his brother Don, who also served in the Marine Corps, were distinguished as being the oldest living Marine Corps brothers in Oregon.

Bill Foelker went on to graduate from Pacific. His first teaching assignment was at Milwaukie. He started in 1947, teaching social studies and world geography, while coaching football, track and basketball.

While at Milwaukie, Foelker received national recognition as an instructor of world geography. The television show, “John Gunther’s High Road,” honored him with a trip to Europe in 1961.

At Putnam, in addition to serving as athletic director, Foelker taught and served as a guidance counselor.

Hermo, shared some memories of Foelker during his years at Putnam:

“As AD, he always stated, ‘We are going to be top drawer.’ His famous statement to coaches was, ‘We are not rich and we are not poor, but if we need it to benefit the kids, let’s do it.’”

Hermo recalls that Foelker was instrumental in starting Putnam’s “Dads and Moms Club,” and he “engaged a local businessman, Harold Taylor, to sponsor our summer legion program. The same company, Taylor Electric, sponsored for over 40 years, and this was a major plus to my baseball program.”

Foelker continued active as a volunteer and fan at Putnam after his retirement. The school’s football and track and field stadium is named “Bill Foelker Field” in his honor.

“Bill’s induction into the Oregon Athletic Directors Hall of Fame is definitely earned for his above-dedicated service for athletes at Milwaukie and Rex Putnam,” Hermo said.

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