- Wilbur Schu
- Hometown (Last School)
- Versailles, KY
- 1942-43, 1943-44, 1944-45, 1945-46
- December 18, 1922
Obituary – Schu Remembered as Athlete with ‘Heart and Guts’, Lexington Herald-Leader (November 9, 1980) by Jennifer Hewlett
Wilbur Schu wasn’t eligible for military service during World War II. He had two bad knees and holes in his eardrums.
But that didn’t keep him from becoming a starting player on the University of Kentucky basketball team.
The scrawny 6-foot-3-inch youth played forward at UK for four years – 1942 to 1946.
Schu, with knees heavily bandaged, helped the Wildcats win more than 70 games, including three Southeastern Conference championships and the school’s first National Invitational Tournament championship.
He was one of coach Adolph Rupp’s 1944 Beardless Wonders, a team that also was referred to as the “Five F Formula – Four 4-Fs and a Freshman” – because four of its members were ineligible for the draft and one was a freshman.
That was nearly 40 years ago.
On Thursday, Schu, a resident of Georgetown, died at the age of 57 after apparently suffering a heart attack. he was buried yesterday in Georgetown Cemetery.
Schu was not a UK basketball star, but he was a good, consistent player, his friends say.
He was named on the All-Southeastern Conference second teams of 1944 and 1945, and to Pic magazine’s All-America second team in 1945.
“Every time that we’d go into Madison Square Garden, the organist would play ‘Shoo Shoo Baby,'” said former UK basketball All-America Ralph Beard.
“He didn’t have that much ability, but he played on heart and guts. He was one of those who sacrificed for the rest of the team. He was a good journeyman ball player,” Beard said.
Schu had a bellowing voice that could be heard across the basketball court, he said. “He was always talking in the huddles. Adolph (Rupp) would say ‘Schu, shut up so I can say something.'”
Schu, who played several sports at Versailles High School and also played football at UK, entered the university with the help of former Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler.
He lived with the Chandlers during his senior year at Versailles High School, after he became too old to live at the Methodist Home of Kentucky in Versailles.
Schu, a native of Louisville, was placed in the children’s home during the Great Depression after his father, Fred Schu, died.
“He was the star of the (high school) basketball team,” said Mildred Chandler, wife of the former governor. “When he’d run out on the floor, they’d holler Schu ! Schu !
“He was too old to stay at the home. I told the boys (her sons) to bring him home. When you have four children it doesn’t make a bit more difference to have five.”
The Chandlers gave Schu his first birthday party and helped out when he became ill with appendicitis, Mrs. Chandler said.
“He was a sweet youngster,” she said.
“I can remember a sweater he had,” said Ben Chandler, son of the former governor. “He had letter and bars and stars and stripes down to his wrists.”
Chandler said Schu frequently scored in double digits while playing high school basketball. “In the 40s, they didn’t score like that,” he said. “Schu was outstanding in (high school) basketball. They had not had a player like him here.
Chandler said Schu, who also was a football star in high school, helped the team win several games by drop-kicking for extra points.
“His specialty was drop-kicking which is a lost art,” Chandler said.
Rupp persuaded Schu to give up football at UK after one year he said. Rupp was afraid Schu would be injured playing football and not be able to play basketball.
After his stint at UK, Schu went on to play professional basketball for a couple of years.
“It wasn’t the NBA (National Basketball Association). It was the next best thing,” said Chandler, who could not remember the name of the team Schu played for.
In later years, Schu made an unsuccessful bid for railroad commissioner.
He was a salesman for the Norandex Aluminum Product Co. at the time of his death.
Schu is survived by his wife, Helen Blake Schu; two daughters, Laura Louis and Sally Sue Schu; and one son, Stan Schu, all of Georgetown. He also is survived by his mother, Alma Schneburger Schu, and a sister, Ruth Schu, both of Homestead Idaho.