Inducted in 2010
Gerald Straley graduated from Rosedale (Ohio) High School in 1939. While playing basketball there, he made the Madison County Basketball first team as a guard and a forward his sophomore, junior, and senior years.
He attended Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, for two years, transferring to Ohio State University and graduating in 1944. He would have graduated in1943 but was called to active duty in the Air Force February 26, 1943. Earning his “wings” in September 1944, he was assigned to a P-47 fighter plane at flight school in Winfield, Kansas, and then was stationed at Galveston, Texas, flying gunnery over the gulf when the war in the Pacific ended.
After his discharge from the service in September of 1945, he got his first teaching job at West Lafayette, Ohio. He also taught in Keene, Warsaw, Sugarcreek, Plain City, and Marysville, before moving to Bucyrus in 1957 to accept the position of head varsity basketball coach. There he also taught physical education, social studies, and driver’s education. Although his basketball contract was not renewed after two years, he continued to teach and coach at BHS for more than 20 years.
With limited physical facilities, he developed an outstanding physical education program. Over many years he added tumbling and gymnastic equipment to the program, organizing students to perform gymnastics feats at half-time of basketball games and at other events. He was so proud of the program and knew that the students gained both mentally and physically from participating.
He was assistant coach in track, basketball, and football throughout his tenure at BHS, but the last twelve years of his career were spent as head track coach. The 1971 track season was especially memorable for him. The boys’ varsity team won the Crawford County Relays, which he had created in the 1960s, as well as the Northern Ohio League (NOL), the District, and the Regional meets. He took many boys to the State Tournament, with Mike Pensinger winning the pole vault at 14’6 ½ “. He always took someone to compete at the state level while he was coaching.
Following his retirement in 1979, he and his wife JoAnn settled in south Texas, first during the winters and finally full time. There he continued to help local high school students with pole vaulting during track season.
He and JoAnn were married more than 50 years before her passing in 2003, and he credits her with raising their daughters Teresa and Teri, also teachers, and for being so supportive of his teaching and coaching career.
At age 90, he has been retired from teaching for almost as many years as he taught (35), but his memories of his years at Bucyrus High School will never fade. In his words, “I feel honored to have been part of the lives of the students I taught and coached during my 22 years in the Bucyrus City Schools.”