EAST LIVERPOOL — Lou Holtz-Upper Ohio Valley’s final Hall of Fame initiation class fit the mold of those that came before it.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School boys’ basketball coach Dru Joyce, late riverboat pilot Hans Dietz, Wintersville fire chief Robert Herrington, late East Liverpool car dealer Mike Turk and former editor Evening Review sportsman Bob Duffy were honored Saturday at the day-long event that included an open house at the reopening of the new Ohio Upper Valley Museum and Learning Center at the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame in the city center and a banquet at East Liverpool High School.
Joyce, who graduated from East Liverpool High School in 1973, also had success with the Irish, as did Holtz.
Fresh off his seventh state basketball title, former high school mentor to NBA legend LeBron James said he was honored to be included in an institution with so many contributors to society.
“I watched Lou coach and read his books, so he was kind of an inspiration to me,” Joyce said. “Being associated with all of this is really nice. It is way beyond some of my expectations.
This is the second Hall of Fame into which Joyce has been inducted. He was previously inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame. There’s bound to be more after this, but he said he won’t be inducted into Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s Hall of Fame until he retired from coaching. A spot in the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame also likely awaits.
“We had a lot of success” Joyce said.
Dietz made his mark on his life as a riverboat pilot, Eagle Scout, businessman, and devout Christian. Since his tragic death at age 34 in a barge explosion on the Ohio River on May 6, 1989, his sister Heidi was on hand to accept his honor.
She said it was amazing that people still think of him even though he’s been gone for as long as he’s lived.
“Hans collected people”, Heidi talked about the group that came to support him on Saturday. “He sounded a lot like what Lou Holtz was talking about. He enabled people and lifted them up.
She also felt that her brother was helping her now because she is able to amplify a cry for help with her initiation. Heidi is the fiancée of John Sferra, the drummer of the famous Youngstown rock band, Glass Harp. Sferra currently needs a kidney. She said anyone willing to help should call UPMC at 1-877-640-6746.
“Seems like there’s a reason for everything” said Heidi Dietz.
Herrington was thrilled to be in Holtz’s presence again and was honored to be included in a Hall of Fame that included many personalities.
“I’m from Follansbee (Holtz’s birthplace) so I’ve been a Lou Holtz fan all my life,” said Herrington. “My dad was a huge Notre Dame fan.”
Previous induction ceremonies have been held at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville, which Herrington helped renovate.
“In public security, very often, people are not recognized”, said Herrington. “I was surprised when Digger (Frank Dawson) called me because I thought it was going to be about hosting dinner in the venue and definitely not that.”
Michael Turk, who died in 1971, had no representative present, but was known for his lifetime of accomplishments. Born in Russia to Lithuanian parents and arrived in this country at the age of 11. He graduated from East Liverpool High School and his work ethic started at an early age with a job washing cars which later turned into a career he was passionate about: selling cars. He opened his own dealership and attended 54 consecutive National Automobile Dealers Association conventions. Through it all, he also became a farmer, radio station operator, cattle rancher, air raid warden, and accomplished pilot, once saving the life of a drowned yachtsman with his seaplane. Until his death he was very active in campaigns on behalf of the Red Cross, cerebral palsy, cancer and heart funds and was a member of several service organizations in the area.
Duffy received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award (all others were part of the Class of 2020) and was the last person inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Duffy said his induction was made possible by Holtz because he was the first sportswriter to interview him when he was hired as a college coach at William and Mary in 1961.
“He never forgets his hometown or the people who live there”, said Duffy. “He called me a few years ago and said I was going to be in the Hall of Fame and I said ‘For what?’ He said “For all you’ve done for me”.
Duffy said he planned to end his speech by “close the door” since he is the last inductee of the institution.
“I am the last” said Duffy. “It’s a shame that the initiations don’t continue, but the scholarships do.”