Reunion activities are held annually during Homecoming weekend for the Golden Bears and the 50-Year Reunion Class. Invitations, including a detailed schedule of events, reservation details, etc. are distributed to alumni of record by the Alumni Association during the early fall.
1963 Football Bears 50-year reunion
by: Mark Stillwell
One of the best teams in Missouri State Bears football history came back to campus in September to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school’s last undefeated gridiron season.
The 1963 Bears turned in a perfect 9-0 regular season which included a Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship. The team went on to play in the Mineral Water Bowl game, losing to Northern Illinois.
The reunion signified what a close-knit group the ’63 Bears had been as more than 40 of the living members of the team returned for the event, including assistant coaches Bill Rowe, George Simpson and Alex Trombetta. Head coach Orville Pottenger and assistant Jim Mentis are deceased. Mentis would later become the Bears’ head coach and guided the team to another league title in 1966.
Team members Chris George, Dennis Scott and Larry Sidwell were the primary organizers of the event.
The 1963 Bears chalked up five shutouts and allowed just 40 points in their nine regular season games. “When you look back, you realize just how dominating this team was on defense,” recalls two-way tackle Rich Johanningmeier, an All-America selection in 1963 who later became the Bears’ head coach and guided the team to its final MIAA championship in 1978.
Both the Bears and Truman State were 4-0 in the MIAA when the Bulldogs came to Springfield for what would be the league title game, with MSU prevailing in a defensive battle. The Bears then turned back potent Akron by one point the following week to preserve their perfect regular season.
Halfback Cornelius Perry joined Johanningmeier on the All-America list and those two and end Jerry Boyer, guard Eldo Perry and center Wally Dawson were all-MIAA first team selections, while Larry Ayres, Paul Krebs, Ed Willard and Ron Young made the second team and Charlie Wade won the MIAA Sportsmanship Award. C. Perry, E. Perry, Johanningmeier, Dawson, Scott, Bill Douglass, Bill Stringer, Pat Hogan, Ardie McCoy and George Sample of that era along with coaches Pottenger, Mentis, Simpson and Rowe would later gain selection into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Front row (from left): Bill Jones, Gary Barnett, Ralph Hagemann, Larry Ayres, Chris George, Eddie Willard, Ron Bloom, John Burkey, Paul Solscheid. Back row: Cornelius Perry, Ron Young, Frank Forcelli, assistant coach George Simpson, Eldo Perry, Bill Stringer, Jerry Boyer, assistant coach Bill Rowe, Dennis Scott, Pete Bruggeman, Sam Winn, Mike Bisceglia, Jack Steiger, Rich Johanningmeier, Wally Dawson, Larry Sidwell, Paul Krebs, Jerry Sitton, assistant coach Alex Trombetta. Not pictured: Jay Cummings, Bill Endres, Mike Howell, Bob Journagan, Tom Marty, Rudy Rinker, Stan Rinker, Pat Talburt, Rick Wilson, Dan Young, Tom Young, Jim Glass, Tim Warden and Gene Douglass.