Who’s That Under the Blanket??

One of my colleagues in the Woodson was scanning some photos the other day and came to me with this tantalizing image:

Edward Herting c1926 045

We knew from the label that the student athlete was Edward Herting and the picture was taken circa 1926. But who’s the guy all cozy under his blanket? And why “S”?

There’s not much of his face showing but I was pretty sure I recognized him anyway. And I was even more confident that I recognized the hat. Indeed, here he is wearing it at far left with the 1926 football squad and head coach John Heisman:

Football team 1926 with Heisman

His name was Joe Bedenk and he was an assistant football coach here in the mid-twenties. The reason there’s an “S” on his blanket is that he had been an All American guard at Penn State, where the letter winner’s club is called the Varsity S. The reason he was fooling around with one of the players was probably that he was only a few years older than they were.

After a couple of years at Rice, Bedenk went back to Penn State where he was most famous as a fantastically successful baseball coach. He continued as a football assistant too, interrupted by a season as head coach in 1949, until 1952.

Which means that he coached with both John Heisman and Joe Paterno.

Here’s a great story about him, well worth your time especially if you’re interested in the history of college baseball.



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Malcolm Gillis, 1940-2015

President Gillis045

What a loss. What a remarkable person.

Malcolm Gillis did nothing halfway. A son of the rural Florida panhandle, his drive, commitment and intelligence brought him to the very top of American higher education. Here’s a link to the Rice News story that details his career, including the profoundly productive period of his Rice presidency.

When he arrived at Rice in 1993 to become the university’s sixth president, Malcolm simply and for all time became one of us. His loyalty was total. There was almost none of that “here’s how we used to do it where I was before” that many modern university administrators drag along with them to each new post. He knew the campus; he knew department assistants, groundskeepers, and librarians by name and spoke to them as colleagues. All his effort–all of it–was directed towards the best interest of the institution. This could be painful at times–I got seriously crosswise with him once about a major issue facing Rice and I will never forget the intensity of that episode. When it came to Rice’s future, he went full throttle.

But I saw that passion and commitment play out in other ways as well. I once saw Malcolm comforting a grieving student as if it were the only thing in the world that mattered and I likewise heard a story from halfway around the world of him emptying his pockets to help an orphanage in Syria only to realize he hadn’t left himself money to get to the airport.

When Malcolm stepped down after eleven years as president he gave an interview to one of the Houston papers (I forget which) and he said that although he’d had some terrible days at Rice, he’d never had a boring one. I know that’s true and I think it’s safe to say it was true for his entire life.

Malcom Gillis, rest in peace.

President Gillis in NC correct

Photo by Tommy LaVergne, 1993 at the Gillis farm in North Carolina.

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Rice Owl Tanning Club, c1985

They don’t look like they’re working on their tans. They do look like some rowdies at a baseball game in about the middle of the 1980s.

Rice Owls tanning Club c1985  nd049

Bonus: KTRU lives.


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Every once in a while I just get stuck. In this case I’ve completely lost my bearings.

What am I looking at? Is the picture flipped? Am I??


construction  047

Bonus: At least I know where this is.


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“One of the brightest stars in Texas athletic competition”

The other day I was looking for something in our enormous  collection of materials from athletics and as is my habit once I found it I browsed through the rest of the box. I was startled to find two long pieces of cardboard kind of stuck together in one of the folders, then shocked when I separated them and saw what they were: a memorial resolution of the Texas House of Representatives in honor of Johnnie Frankie, who was Rice’s basketball coach when he passed away in 1963 at the age of 50:

New Johnnie Frankie 1

New Johnnie Frankie 2

My heart sank when I read this–I’d never heard his name before and wanted to know more. I set about trying to find a photograph of him but couldn’t come up with anything but fuzzy Campanile images so I was thrilled when this one turned up among George Miner’s things:

New John Frankie photo

You can see the warmth and decency in his face, can’t you?

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Behind the Chemistry Building

Behold, one of the rarest views of campus, the back of the Chemistry Building:

ROTC with chemistry nd047

Note please that the Chemistry Lane from a couple weeks ago is still there, but heavily cut back.

And guess what?

There’s a second one:

ROTC with chemistry 2 nd048

Here are the issues:

1.) What year is it? Are both the same year? It has to be at least 1953 because the Bonner Lab is there.

2.) I freely admit that I know nothing about the young men and their uniforms. Nothing. Any help at all is greatly appreciated.

Bonus: Cryptic.


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Kent Anderson, 1941-2015

I don’t think I can come up with a comprehensive list of everything Kent Anderson ’62 contributed to Rice. I started, then gave up. As a student he was all over the place: the debate team, the German Club, the baseball team, the Rally Club, the Thresher staff. He was a Hanszen guy, back when they still styled themselves the “Hanszen Gentlemen.” In the fall of 1961, as a senior he advised a group of new freshmen in the college, including young Mr. Jim Crownover, who later chaired Rice’s Board of Trustees. What Jim says about him reflects my own experience: “Kent’s quiet demeanor, caring attitude and wonderful sense of humor gave real meaning to me at Rice and all the way through to our work together on the Rice Board of Trustees.”

Over his lifetime Kent served Rice with devotion. As a member of the board from 1986 he led several important committees, chaired the presidential search that brought Malcolm Gillis to Rice, raised money and generously gave it himself for everything from athletics to the Shepherd School to most recently Continuing Studies’ Anderson-Clarke Building. He did everything he was ever asked to do for Rice, and he did it quietly, calmly, and thoughtfully. Although he saw his fair share of campus controversy he invariably showed respect for other people and their opinions even when he didn’t share them.

And here’s a telling thing: although he was at the center of decision-making here for many years, it’s almost impossible to find a decent photograph of him at Rice. He left the podium to others and can usually be found in the background or off to the side as ground was broken or ribbons were cut. Aside from a single bland headshot they must have made him sit for when he joined the board I’ve only ever found one good picture of him. It’s a beauty, though–Kent beaming with Coach Graham and his friend and colleague on the board, Bucky Allshouse:

Anderson, Graham, Allshouse


Kent Anderson, Rest in Peace.


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