Stub’s First Win at the U of O: The Day He Met Gloria

April 2, 2017

My son Kurt in the background, my grandson, Beckett ready for a ball snap!

As I was sitting down to write this morning, at my writing table I bought last year in honor of my mother on Mother’s Day, I gazed at the assortment of old photographs inspiring me to commence this new project. I feel as if I’m surrounded by clues, begging me—sometimes taunting me—to weave the pieces of my parent’s past together so that I might better get to know them. As I dig deeper, their young, naïve, determined selves slowly begin to reveal who they were once as a young man and woman. And, once again I am delighted to learn more, frustrated I can’t ask them directly for answers, yet determined to give their love story voice. They have become my friends.

This journey has opened many doors to me. I have been able to reconnect with my birthplace—Eugene, Oregon—through the generous encouragement of Herb Yamanaka, Associate Athletic Director for the University of Oregon where he’s been on staff for over 65 years! His help has been invaluable. Through his introduction I have been able to meet Bill Green, the football team manager of the ’49 squad which was where my Dad started his collegiate football career. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Bob Sanders, the star fullback of that same team. It was a delight to browse through old yearbooks and his scrapbook, whose pages were yellowed with age and worn from many page turnings. I met and visited with Jackie Aiken, the daughter-in-law of the football coach, Jim Aiken, and the wife of his son, Jim Aiken, Jr., also a member of the team. Coach Aiken’s introduction of the team’s offensive T-formation was pivotal in establishing my dad’s successful career as a Hall of Fame quarterback in the NFL.

And when we journeyed back in time to the late forty’s and I’d ask about my dad, they all had a sparkle in their eyes as they reminisced. It was a special time in history: post WWII, new opportunities for both men and women, and a growing sense of optimism in the future.

I’ve also been able to reconnect with old Oregon family friends via the internet. The bonds formed by these teammates, many of whom served in WWII, were forged on the playing field and remained intact into old age. The Kochs, Stantons, and Karamanos all had fathers who were teammates of my dad, all families whose children I knew as a little girl. I have met some of them in person, and I have had the pleasure of perusing through some of their scrapbooks, which have also helped me recreate a unique and special time in our parents’ and nation’s history.

Adam, Mack, Janna, Olivia, Beckett, Charlotte, Kirby with Amelia, Kurt with Josie, Amy with Will (L-R)

But what I have found most rewarding is being able to share this journey with my children and grandchildren. This past summer, my now dear friend, Herb Yamanaka, along with his able assistant, James Batley, took my family on a private guided tour of the U of O Hall of Fame, the indoor practice facility, and Autzen Stadium, the twenty-first century version of Hayward Field. As we marched down the tunnel under the stadium and onto the field, off my grandchildren ran in every direction, the joy of youth so infectious. Had Dad felt this way marching onto Hayward field some seventy years ago?

And finally, as a family, we walked towards Deady Hall where it all began for my parents on a breezy, spring afternoon on April 2, 1946, seventy-one years ago today. As Dad, known at the time as Stub, wandered the campus in search of his biology class, lo and behold he bumped into Gloria Schiewe walking under the branches of a Bigleaf Maple tree. As she pointed him to his next class, he arrived to discover she was his lab instructor.

It was here, after our parents’ passing, that our family dedicated a bench on their behalf. This was arguably Dad’s most valuable win! The bronze plaque simply states, “It’s here we met, and here we will always be.” Sitting on that bench underneath that giant tree surrounded by my grandchildren, I felt life had brought me full circle.

Kirby surrounded by her Grands on Stub and Gloria’s bench

5 comments

  • Pam Carter

    This is so beautiful!! Thank you for writing it. I think my parents were at your parents wedding. Your wiring makes me feel closer to your parents. Your dad will always be Uncle Stub 🙂

    • Karen

      Thanks for reaching out, it was such a lovely surprise! I hope you enjoy my books, there is a lot about my parents in them and then of course, my next project is about their love story!

      Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
      Kirby

  • Lynette Clark

    Karen,
    My Mom was Uncle Stubs Neice, Alyce Serpa. I was so Blessed to see this article. I hope this small note finds you happy and healthy.
    I Love Aunt Gloria and Uncle Stub.
    Love
    Lynette Clark
    Alias “ Lynetteski” my Nickname from your Fabulously wonderful Dad💞💋

    • Karen

      Lynette, and I remember your Mom so well. It broke my Mom’s heart when your Mom became ill with the same disease she was battling. I hope you and your family are well. My family of three has grown to 8 grands and I feel very blessed! I am currently working on a book about my parents based on the love letters my Dad wrote to my Mom while they were in college. Hope to have it published one day!

      Merry Christmas blessing to you.

  • Pam Carter

    Lynnette & Kirby!
    How cool is this!! Lynette, that means you and I are second cousins ( I think that’s what it’s called). My mom was your Mom’s Aunt Pauline. I also remember when your mom died. Actually she is THE reason I started having colonoscopies at 50.
    Kirby, how wonderful is this that your moving book is touching so many lives.

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