MACEDONIA -- Bill Boliantz, "the patriarch" of Nordonia Hills schools, was a teacher, coach, high school principal and superintendent.

"Lots of people talk about what a great man he was," Superintendent Joe Clark said. "He set the bar high for what leadership is all about."

Mr. Boliantz, the man for whom the stadium at Nordonia High School was named, died Feb. 2, 2017. He was 99.

"He was a giant in our field," Nordonia High School Principal Casey Wright said. "Every time I walk out to the stadium, I think of him."

Athletic Director Rob Eckenrode called him "a legend."

"We have a parking spot at the stadium reserved with his name on it," he said. "It's a nice way to remember him. It's way to remind people of the impact he had in this community and remember him with fond thoughts."

Clark called him "the patriarch" of the school district.

"He was a wonderful man," he said. "I could tell he really cared about making the schools a huge priority for the community and doing what was best for the students."

Daughter Carol Wanchick said her father "loved coaching and enjoyed the students."

"Dad was a real people person," she said. "He was an extrovert who loved people. He kept in contact with a lot of the kids he coached and taught. That was very important to him. He was a father figure for a lot of them."

Son Bill added, "Everybody knew him as 'Coach.' A lot of people still called him 'Coach.'"

Mr. Boliantz was also a husband for 74 years, a father of four children and a U.S. Army veteran in World War II who fought in the famed Battle of the Bulge in Europe.

"He was the father of Nordonia Hills," Wright said.

'Legendary'

Mr. Boliantz was born Nov. 4, 1918 in Saskatchewan, Canada as one of seven children. When he was 6, his parents moved the family to Mansfield, where he graduated from high school.

As a student and athlete at Kent State University in the late 1930s, "he was an outstanding athlete," his son said. "He participated in football, basketball and track."

While at Kent, he met his future wife, Helen, who was also a student. He was 21 and she was 19.

"I met him in Wills Gym," she said. "We were watching athletics. He was so handsome. We just chatted and started going together. He gave me is fraternity pin."

After the couple got married in 1942, he taught for one year, then was drafted into the Army as World War II escalated in Europe.

"He was gone for three years," Helen said. "He wrote me a lot of letters, and I wrote him every day. He was the love of my life."

After the war ended in 1945, he returned to Northfield Center, and the couple lived in the house he built. They had four children -- Carol (Tom) Wanchick of Lockport, N.Y., Patricia (Hollings) Belcher of Canal Fulton, Bill (Cheryl) of Boston Heights and Barbara (Jim) Haskamp of Wexford, Pa.

"He was an awesome dad," Bill said.

Carol said her father was "very nurturing and loving."

"He really cared about us," she said. "Even though he was super busy, he always had time to make sure we were good. That was important to him. He was a Christian father. He was soft spoken and never yelled. Every time we went to do something, he always said, 'Be good.'"

The family vacationed in places like Florida, Canada, Washington, D.C., and once went camping in the western states.

Mr. Boliantz was an industrial arts teacher who coached "just about everything -- football, basketball, baseball and track," his son said.

He remained a coach until 1951 when he became principal of Northfield High School for the next decade.

"As principal, he treated me like everybody else," Carol said. "It was good. You'd think it might be hard, but it wasn't. The kids liked dad, so it was easy for me."

From 1962-76, he was superintendent and wound up serving the district for more than 30 years. Throughout his career, "Dad was always concerned about others," Carol said.

When he retired in 1976, "William Boliantz Stadium" was named after him.

"It was such an honor for Bill," Helen said. "It was a wonderful surprise."

His son added, "Dad was pretty proud about it. That's why he got into teaching. He loved to coach."

Fittingly, Bill, who was a senior in the fall of 1970, was a member of the first Nordonia football team to play at the stadium.

In retirement, Mr. Boliantz remained active.

"He could lay brick and he helped build his church," his son said. "He helped me in construction, too."

He loved to fish and golf in his spare time.

When Mr. Boliantz and his wife were in their 80s, they returned to the site of his World War II experiences -- England, France and Germany.

"That was very important to him," Carol said. "He was a real interesting guy."

His son said, "He was always doing something."

Carol said whenever she returned to this area, "If I'd go to the grocery store, it seemed like a lot of people knew about him. We were always proud of Dad."

Wright said when he became principal 10 years ago, the first person he met at the high school was Mr. Boliantz.

"He just stopped by on my first day in the middle of the summer," he said. "He introduced himself and we hit it off right away. We spent a couple hours together and walked around the building. I really appreciated that -- just to get a chance to talk to somebody who I consider a legend."

Eckenrode said when the new high school stadium opened in 2010, Mr. Boliantz cut the ceremonial ribbon.

"It was significant to the community to have him out there," he said. "When we were building the athletic facility, the one thing that everybody asked was that the stadium remain named after Mr. Boliantz. But there was never any thought about removing it.

He added, "The best way to describe him is legendary."

Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432

mlesko@recordpub.com

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