SCIPIO TWP. — The eighth of twelve Bicentennial Markers was unveiled on Wednesday evening in Scipio Township.
The marker honors the life of William Henry Harrison “Tippy” Dye, who was born in Harrisonville in 1915.
In attendance for the event was U.S. Senator Rob Portman, who spoke about Dye, his life and legacy.
“I think history is important because if you don’t remember history you make big mistakes. I think it’s really neat that you guys are celebrating your 200th this year and I think it’s really cool that you’re doing this once a month,” said Portman.
“I love his name, you know his real name was William and he was born here, Harrisonville. He was named after William Henry Harrison and it was nice that his mom did that, but then I guess they liked the saying ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler too’ (Harrison’s campaign slogan) and said were going to call you Tippy,” said Portman.
“I think that is one of the reasons for his success over the years, because who can forget that name — Tippy Dye. Ohio’s got a lot of great heroes in sports …. Tippy Dye is right up there at the top,” said Portman.
Of Dye’s career, Portman said, “He started in Harrisonville and he came back to Ohio in his later years. He did everything. At Ohio State, he was the big man on campus. … He was held up as one of the greats. He was an Ohio guy through and through.”
Weighing in at just 135 pounds when he arrived on the Ohio State campus, Portman noted that skills and hard work helped to make Dye successful.
“I think that’s part of what we need to learn through history is that life can throw a lot of curves at you. Some people give up. You can’t give up; you’ve got to continue to fight and fight hard and that’s what he did,” concluded Portman.
Portman congratulated the Bicentennial Ambassadors — Cooper Schagel, Brielle Newland, Mattison Finlaw and Grant Adams — on their selection to represent Meigs County during the bicentennial year.
The Bicentennial Ambassadors then told of Dye, as well as a brief history of Harrisonville.
Dye was a three-sport star athlete at Ohio State University from 1934-37, lettering eight times in football, basketball and baseball for the Buckeyes. As starting quarterback for OSU, Dye defeated rival Michigan three consecutive games, the first Buckeye quarterback to do so.
Dye served as an assistant football coach on the 1942 Ohio State national championship team and as head basketball coach for Ohio State from 1946-1950 and at the University of Washington from 1950-59, where he led the Huskies to the Final Four in 1953. Dye was later the athletic director at Wichita State, Northwestern and Nebraska.
Dye passed away in 2012 at the age of 97.
Dye was named for the same man as the town where he was born, as Harrisonville, which was founded in 1840, was named for the 19th President William Henry Harrison. Ambassador Grant Adams told of Harrison as the shortest serving President having died of pneumonia which he caught after delivering the longest inauguration speech in presidential history in cold, rainy weather. He died on his 32nd day in office.
Commissioner and Bicentennial Committee member Randy Smith introduced Portman, noting some of the things that Senator Portman has done to help the area, including Appalachian Regional Commission funding for projects including the Meigs Emergency Department, the Pomeroy Riverbank Stabilization Project, The Rutland Wastewater Project which will soon break ground, and a water project for Tuppers Plains Chester Water Department.
Portman also spoke about the drug issue and other topics which impact the area.
“One of the things we have done on the drug crisis is get some money in this area for treatment. I have been at this over 25 years now, and I can’t say we’ve solved the problem have we, but we are starting to see a little bit of a turnaround. Ohio, last year, for the first time in eight years didn’t have an increase in overdose deaths, it has a decrease. Led the country because of the work a lot of people have done,” said Portman.
He spoke of the oil and gas industry which is bringing jobs to the region, as well as the efforts to protect pensions for coal miners.
He also recalled buying cows recently off Meigs County farm owner Tom Karr after his wife said he preferred “the pretty red ones” when Portman said he wanted to purchase cows.
The stop by Portman was part of his three days in Southern and Southeastern Ohio where he also participated in events which focused on workforce development, toured small businesses, and participated in agricultural tours.
Before leaving Meigs County on Wednesday evening, Portman made a visit to the Meigs County Fair, spending around an hour at the Junior Fair Market Goat Show.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.