Final Lou Holtz Hall of Fame class inducted

Photo by Michael Burich College Football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz poses with a bronze bust of honoring his Presidential Medal of Freedom award on Saturday in the lobby of Potter Fieldhouse in East Liverpool.

EAST LIVERPOOL — The final induction class of the Lou Holtz-Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame fit the mold of the ones that went before it.

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School boys basketball coach Dru Joyce, the late riverboat pilot Hans Dietz, Wintersville fire chief Robert Herrington, the late East Liverpool car dealer Mike Turk and former Evening Review sports editor Bob Duffy were honored on Saturday at the all-day event that included an open house event at the reopening of the newly named Upper Ohio Valley Museum and Learning Center at the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame in downtown and a banquet at East Liverpool High School.

Joyce, a 1973 East Liverpool High School graduate, has also had success with the Irish just like Holtz.

Fresh off his seventh state basketball title, the former high school mentor of NBA legend LeBron James said he is humbled to be included in an institution with so many contributors to society.

“I watched Lou coach and read his books, so he was kind of an inspiration to me,” Joyce said. “To be associated with all of this is really nice. It’s way beyond some of my expectations.”

This is the second hall of fame Joyce has been inducted in. He was previously inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame. There’s bound to be more after that but he said he won’t get inducted in the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Hall of Fame until after he retires from coaching. A spot in the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame also likely awaits.

“We’ve had a lot of success,” Joyce said.

Dietz made his mark on life as a riverboat pilot, Eagle Scout, businessman and devout Christian. Since he tragically passed at age 34 in an Ohio River barge explosion on May 6, 1989, his sister Heidi was in attendance to accept his honor.

She said it’s amazing that people still think of him even though he’s been gone about as long as he lived.

“Hans collected people,” Heidi said about the group that came to support him on Saturday. “He was a lot like what Lou Holtz was talking about. He enabled people and lifted them up.”

She also felt that her brother was helping her now because she is able to amplify a call for help with his induction. Heidi is the fiance of John Sferra, the drummer for the famous Youngstown rock band Glass Harp. Sferra is currently in need of a kidney. She said that anyone who is willing to help should call UPMC at 1-877-640-6746.

“It feels like there’s a reason for everything,” Heidi Dietz said.

Herrington was thrilled to be in the presence of Holtz again and was humbled to be included in a Hall of Fame that featured many prominent people.

“I’m originally from Follansbee (Holtz’s birthplace), so I’ve been a Lou Holtz fan all of my life,” Herrington said. “My father was a huge Notre Dame fan.”

Previous induction ceremonies have been held at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville which Herrington had a hand in renovating.

“In public safety a lot of times people don’t get recognized,” Herrington said. “I was surprised when Digger (Frank Dawson) called me because I had thought it was going to be about setting up the dinner at the hall and certainly not this.”

Michael Turk, who died in 1971, did not have a representative present but he was noted for his lifetime of achievements. Born in Russia to Lithuanian parents and came to this country age the age of 11. He graduated from East Liverpool High School, and his work ethic began early with a car washing job that later developed into a career he was passionate about – selling cars. He opened his own dealership and he attended 54 consecutive National Automobile Dealers Association conventions. Through it all, he also became a farmer, a radio station operator, a cattle breeder, an air raid warden and an accomplished pilot, once saving the life of a drowning boater with his sea plane. Until his death, he was very active in campaigns on behalf of the Red Cross, cerebral palsy, cancer and heart funds and was a member of several area service organizations.

Duffy received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award (all of the others were a part of the Class of 2020) and was the final person inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Duffy said his induction was made possible by Holtz because he was the first sports editor to interview him when he was hired as a college coach at William and Mary in 1961.

“He never forgets his hometown or the people in it,” Duffy said. “He called me a few years ago and told me I was going to be in the Hall of Fame and I said ‘For what?’ He said ‘For everything you’ve done for me’.”

Duffy said he planned to close his speech by “locking the door” since he is the final inductee of the institution.

“I’m the last one,” Duffy said. “It’s too bad the inductions won’t continue but the scholarships will.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.73/week.

Subscribe Today