Marvin Wood remembered as exceptional man:
Former coach's character set an example for others
by Linda Mullen

(MISHAWAKA, IN -- Oct. 17, 1999)

It's been 45 years since the Milan High School basketball team sat on the front row bench of the state championship game beside its coach Marvin Wood.

On Saturday, seven of those same 1954 teammates again sat in the front row beside their coach, but this time it was on a church pew, not a players' bench. And Wood's body was lying in a wooden casket.

When the casket was taken out of the First United Methodist Church, Gene White and Bobby Plump walked side-by-side behind it. Next came Roger Schroder, Ray Craft, Bob Engel, Rollin Cutter, Glen Butte and then-Milan Principal Cale Hudson.

Wood's wife of 51 years, Mary Lou, their daughter, Deidra, and three grandchildren followed the former Milan players out of the church so that the family would be first in the receiving line for the 500 people who attended Saturday's service.

Wood died of cancer Wednesday (Oct. 13) at the age of 71.

The 1954 basketball team members all wore carnations, dyed the school's yellow-gold team color. Also at the funeral was Virginia Craft, one of the cheerleaders from Wood's team.

And although the four speakers at the service referred often to Wood's basketball legacy--he and his championship team were the inspiration for the hit movie "Hoosiers"--all of them said Wood was more committed to his family, faith and community.

Wood had often said, "God was coaching that team, not me."

Rick Paridaen, a friend of the Wood family, said Mary Lou often worried aloud, "If a basketball and I were placed at half-court, which one would he choose?" Paridaen then said, "The real love of his life was Mary Lou."

In his eulogy, Kerry Marshall, who wrote the biography of Marv Wood "A Boy, A Ball, and a Dream," remembered that Wood's favorite song was "Jesus Loves Me"; his favorite words were "I'll try"; and his favorite saying was, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

Rev. Daniel Motto talked about the true-life incident of Wood measuring the height of the basketball goal in Hinkle Fieldhouse, just before Milan took the floor in 1954 for a practice, to illustrate that it was exactly the same height as the goal at the team's hometown school.

That act, Motto said, was meant to reassure the team that, despite the enormous size of the field house where the state finals were being played, the team should "cast out their fear."

Motto said when he watched "Hoosiers" for the first time, he sat on the edge of his seat, waiting to make sure that scene was in it. When it was, Motto said, he knew the movie was truly inspired by Wood.

(from the South Bend Tribune)

Mr. Marvin Wood was the MHS basketball coach during the Class of '68's sophomore year.

Mishawaka teacher tributes:
|Auggie Baetsle| |Emily Davidson|
Mary Hess| |Charles Karst|
Thelma Martin, 1| |Thelma Martin, 2|
Don Portolese| |Margaret Powell|
Earl Stine| |Helen Stoddart|
Rosa Weikel| |Marvin Wood|
A Collection of Thanks|