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UNK Will Smethers

Will Smethers
Hometown (Last School)
Middletown, OH (High)
April 8, 1927

Obituary – Willis A. Smethers, Middletown (OH) Journal (December 27, 2001)

Willis Alven Smethers, 74, of Middletown, went home to be with his Lord on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2001, in Cape Coral, Fla.

He was born April 8, 1927 in Middletown to Guy and Ruth Smethers and has lived here his entire life, graduating from Middletown High School in 1945 after helping the Middies win their first Ohio State Basketball Championship in 1944.

He enlisted in the Army after high school where he served two years for his country in Germany. He played basketball for the University of Kentucky in 1947-48 with the “Fabulous Five.” A picture of the team is in the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. In 1949, he transferred to Bowling Green State where he was a three-year letterman before graduating in 1952 with a BA in education.

Married to Barbara Ann Flanders Aug. 9, 1952, he and she were blessed with four children. He began his teaching and coaching career in Webster Ohio, in 1952 before moving back to Middletown to begin his career with Lemon-Monroe High in 1954. He taught industrial arts for Monroe for 26 years, retiring in 1980. He served as head coach of the varsity basketball team for 17 years and led the Hornets to four league championships and also served as coach of the Monroe football, tennis and golf teams. He was inducted into the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame in November.

A member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, he served every Sunday as an usher. Mr. Smethers will be sadly missed by his family members including wife Barbara A.; sons Donald (Linda) Smethers of Middletown and Richard (Victoria) Smethers of Smyrna, Tenn.; daughters, Sharon A. Smethers of Springboro and Cindy (Tim) Carlson of Middletown; grandchildren Jason and Tricia Smethers, Middletown, Nicole Smethers, Nashville, Benjamin Frisby of Lebanon, Sarah and Lauren Ratliff of Springboro, Stacy Pohlabein and Steve and Meg Carlson of Middletown; a sisters, Gladys (Joseph) Atkinson of Middletown; an aunt, Helen Morris of Denver, N.C.; and many other friends and relatives.

Arrangements: A memorial service will be held Jan. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension with the Rev. Walter Mycoff officiating. Interment will be in the Memorial Garden at the church. Visitation will be at the church after the service until 9 p.m.

Memorials: Memorials may be made to the Church of the Ascension, 2709 McGee Ave., Middletown 45044, the Cardiac Rehab Unit, Middletown Regional Hospital 105 McKnight Drive, Middletown 45044, or to Hope Hospice House North, 2430 Diplomat Pkwy., E., Cape Coral Fla. 33909.

Will Smethers, Longtime Coach and Top Player, Dies The Middletown Journal (December 27, 2001)

Will Smethers, one of Middletown High’s early basketball heroes, and a former longtime coach of the Monroe Hornets, passed away last Sunday night in Cape Coral, Fla.

Smethers made his mark with the Middies in 1944 when he helped bring the local team the first of its state record seven championships. He coached the Hornets for 12 seasons, the second-longest tenure in the school’s history.

Smethers led the Middies in scoring as they won the ’44 title. He had 22 points on 11 shots from the field in the 38-34 victory over Martins Ferry in the semifinals, and came back with 15 the following evening in a 50-47 Middie victory in the finals against Toledo Woodward.

The following year he helped the Middies edge out Canton McKinley, 29-28, in the semifinals played at the Toledo Fieldhouse, but lost to Bellevue, 36-34, in the finals. Smethers scored 14 points in the two games.

Both years he was named to the all-tournament team.

During Smethers’ junior and senior years at Middletown High the Middies lost only one game each season and won 24 each year.

One of the opposition players in the game against Martins Ferry in 1944 was Alex Groza, who became a teammate of Smethers when both enrolled at the University of Kentucky. Smethers is pictured with the legendary Fabulous Five in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Smethers played only one year for Adolph Rupp and the Wildcats before transferring to Bowling Green and another legendary coach, Forrest Anderson. Smethers won three letters at Bowling Green.

He started his coaching career at Webster, Ohio, in 1952, before accepting a teaching and coaching post in Monroe. He was at Monroe for 26 years teaching industrial arts, in addition to serving as assistant on several Hornets teams. He was an assistant coach with the basketball squad before being appointed head coach in 1956.

Smethers’ Hornets won 127 games during his career as coach, losing 91. He guided the Hornets to the Mid-Miami League championship in 1965-66. His teams were league co-champs in 1964-65 and 1966-67.

Following his retirement from teaching, Smethers worked for 12 years at the Weatherwax Golf Course.

Smethers was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame.

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