Thursday, August 19, 2004

'Woody' Wills, 90, Miami health prof

Assistant football coach served in WWII

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

OXFORD - Woodrow "Woody" Wills, Miami University professor emeritus of health and physical education, died Monday in Oxford. He was 90.

Mr. Wills was an assistant football coach from 1948 to 1964 under George Blackburn, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, John Pont and Bo Schembechler - all of whom went on to illustrious coaching careers. During his tenure as an assistant, the Redskins posted a 114-40-7 record, won six Mid-American Conference championships and went to two bowl games.

He was also head baseball coach at MU from 1950 to 1967, compiling a 175-186-7 record and twice finishing second in the Mid-American Conference.

A Columbus native, Mr. Wills graduated from Ohio University - where he lettered in football and baseball - in 1937.

An outstanding place-kicker, he was an all-Ohio quarterback during his sophomore year and an all-Ohio fullback during his senior year.

He was also a catcher and played two seasons for a New York Giants baseball farm club. OU later inducted him into its Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. Wills spent three years as an officer in the Navy during World War II.

"He was the commander of an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) ship that made a voyage ... across the Pacific," said his wife, Betty. "He received a presidential citation for being able to take these little-bitty boats clear across the Pacific Ocean."

Mr. Wills coached at high schools in Coshocton, Gallipolis and Gahanna, Ohio, and at Norwood High School, before joining Miami in 1948.

He retired in 1981 and Miami inducted him into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also a member of the Butler County Hall of Fame.

In addition to his wife of 66 years, survivors include a daughter, Suzy Eversole of Liberty Township.; a son, Don Wills of Peru, N.Y.; and two grandchildren.

The funeral is 10:30 a.m. today at Miami's Sesquicentennial Chapel.

Memorials: Red and White Club, Office of Intercollegiate Athletic Development, Millett Hall, Oxford, OH 45056 or the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, 202 South Michigan St., Suite 810, South Bend, IN 46601.

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