October 7, 2011

Jack Behringer 1925-2011

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Retired Grove City College athletic director R. Jack Behringer passed away at home Wednesday, October 5, 2011 after an extended illness. Mr. Behringer worked at Grove City College from 1956 to 1996, spending 39 years as the College’s athletic director.

He was born in Lima, Ohio, on May 13, 1925 to Adam and Bertha (Baleske) Behringer and grew up in Defiance, Ohio.  Jack married Jeanne Lisk on June 8, 1947.

He attended Defiance High School where he excelled in football and basketball. He also served as his senior class president. After enlisting in the United States Air Force, Behringer enrolled at Defiance College and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in education in 1949. He captained the football team and also competed in basketball at Defiance.

His coaching career began at Wooster High School, where he served as line coach for an undefeated football team.

In 1950, he moved to the College of Wooster, where he coached football, track and field, tennis and freshman basketball while also working as an instructor of physical education for six years. He coached the 1953 track and field team to its first Ohio Athletic Conference championship.

Behringer earned a master’s of education degree from Bowling Green State in 1954 and also completed post-graduate work at Case Western Reserve and the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Behringer began his career at Grove City College in 1956.  He guided the College’s Department of Physical Education and Athletics through an era of unparalleled growth and transition from 1957 to 1996. His integrity, foresight and commitment to principles helped establish the standard of excellence that continues within the athletic department to this day.

Under his strong leadership, Grove City entered into the newly-created NCAA Division III and became the region’s standard-bearer in the establishment of women’s intercollegiate athletics.

Grove City added 12 varsity sports – including nine for women – during Behringer’s career as athletic director. He helped foster the development of the Women’s Keystone Conference, the first women’s athletic conference for private colleges in western Pennsylvania. In 1984, Behringer engineered Grove City’s entrance into the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

Behringer hired several longstanding, highly successful coaches during his tenure at Grove City, including five who have been inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Hired as head football coach, head basketball coach and head track coach in 1956, Behringer quickly rejuvenated Grove City’s struggling football program by leading the Wolverines to a 5-3 record in just his second year. He earned Tri-State Coach of the Year that year and would go on to earn numerous other coaching awards during his career.

His 1966 football squad went 8-0-1 and won the program’s first title in the modern era as the Wolverines captured the West Penn Conference title. The 1966 season marked Grove City’s first undefeated team in 40 years.

In 1959, Behringer administered the reinstatement of varsity baseball at the College and coached the team until 1988. He finished as the baseball program’s all-time wins leader with 236. In 2009, Grove City renamed its baseball facility “R. Jack Behringer Field” in his honor.

He then coached the men’s golf team until his official retirement on September 1, 1996.

The College inducted Behringer into its Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 2007. Twelve of his former players have been selected for the Hall. 

Behringer also oversaw the renovation of Grove City’s athletic facilities. In 1981, the College refurbished Robert E. Thorn Field and constructed Phillips Field House. In the late 1980s, Grove City built its new competition pool, a new fitness center and expanded the intramural facilities.   

The College promoted him to the rank of professor of physical education in 1974. Behringer also worked as an instructor in the College’s education department.

Mr. Behringer earned many additional awards and honors throughout his life, including:

*Coached in Tri-State College Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game (1969, 1972)
*Defiance College Hall of Fame (1979)
*Grove City College Florence MacKenzie Campus-Community Award (1991)
*Grove City United Way Outstanding Community Service Award (1994)
*Lake Erie Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association Award of Appreciation (1996)
*Grove City College Certificate of Recognition For 40 Years of Devoted Service (1996)
*Northeast Ohio District Athletic Administrator Association Service Award (1997)
*Mercer County Hall of Fame (1998)
*Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award (2002)
*Grove City YMCA Outstanding Service Board President award (2003)
*Dedicator, Robert E. Thorn Field Re-Dedication (2006)

Behringer was a member of East Main Presbyterian Church, Grove City. He served as a volunteer at Grove City Medical Center from 1986 to 1996. He was former member of the board of directors and past president of the Grove City YMCA. For over 30 years, he dressed and played Santa Claus for people in the Grove City area.

Behringer is survived by his wife, Jeanne, at home, along with two nieces, Betsy Anderson and Kathy Kaatz, both Denver, Colo., one great niece, Carly Kaatz, and one great nephew, Geoffrey Kaatz. He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister, Bettyann Kirtley, and one brother, Paul Behringer.

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