Wilmer Wallace Stover
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army
Wally Stover was line coach on Panthers’ legendary championship squad of 1940
The few living members of Ashtabula High School’s undefeated Lake Shore League championship football team of 1940 remember Wally Stover very well.
He was their line coach for that one memorable season.
Then came 1941 and World War II, and Stover’s life, as well as the lives of his players, changed dramatically. Stover went on to do great things in his life — as a war hero, educator and counselor to hundreds — make that thousands — of college students.
W. Wallace Stover died December 26, 2003, at the age of 86 in Columbus, Ohio, where he had lived most of his life.
He was born in the Ohio capital, was an all-state football player at Columbus North High School and then played at Ohio State, where he received BS, BA and MS degrees.
In 1940, he joined the faculty at Ashtabula High and was named one of two assistant coaches by its legendary football mentor, George(Chic) Guarnieri.
The other was Don Gatchel, backfield coach.
That year’s Panthers were unbeaten, shut out six of their nine opponents and outscored them, 223-26. And all 11 starters were seniors who played both offense and defense.
Orval Bell of Geneva, Ashtabula’s All-Lake Shore League quarterback that year, recently reminisced about Stover. He was a good coach who “worked well with Gatchel,” as well as with both his linemen and Guarnieri, he recalled.
Although he was in Ashtabula only that one school year, Stover made it triply memorable, but not just for his work on the gridiron. He met the high school’s home economics teacher, Virginia Harmon, in 1940, fell in love and married her in 1941. Later that year, he entered the U.S. Army.
At his death the day after Christmas, they had been married for 62 years. She resides in Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb.
He was on active duty with the army from 1941-1946. On Bougainville, in the Southwest Pacific’s Solomon Islands, Stover won the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest U.S. military decoration “for extraordinary heroism” in saving a patrol pinned down by heavy Japanese fire. He also received not one but two Bronze Stars.
Many years later, he retired from the Army Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel. In 1966-67, he served as national commander of the Legion of Valor, the national organization for recipients of the nation’s highest military awards. Also, in 1990, he was inducted into the Ohio State ROTC Hall of Fame.
For 32 years (1950-82), he was a member of the Ohio State faculty. He served as Secretary of the College of Education and director of counseling service. Also he was a 50-year member of the OSU Faculty Club.
Stover was international vice president of Civitan International, governor of its Ohio District, president of the Civitan International Foundation and a Fellow of the Shropshire Foundation. In addition he was commander of Columbus’ American Legion Post No. 310, president of the North Columbus Shrine Club, a member of Delta Tau Delta, Phi Delta Kappa and Kappa Phi Kappa, and University Lodge No. 631 F&AM and the Scottish Rite.
Lieutenant Colonel Stover is buried in Arlington
National Cemetery in Virginia.