Saturday, September 25, 2010

Russel Alspaugh, the Man who named the Margaretta Polar Bears

Russel Alspaugh, seen in the blue jacket next to his brother Leslie, was born in 1916 to Edward and Della Alspaugh. Sadly, Russ and Les's mother died when they were very young, in 1918. In the 1920 U.S. Census for Erie County, Edward Alspaugh is listed as a widow, with three children: Leslie, age 10; Leona, age 8; and Russel, age 3.

In the 1930's, both Russ and Les Alspaugh were amateur boxers. Russ fought in the featherweight division. In an undated clipping from the local student newspaper from Margaretta High School, an article tells how Russ Alspaugh was responsible for the naming of the "Polar Bears" as the mascot for the local school system in Castalia, Ohio. Denise Paul wrote the article for the Polar Press in the mid 1990's, after her grandmother, Joyce Orshoski, told her of an earlier article about Russ. It seems that since Russ was the president of the athletic association, he was not eligible to submit a nickname for the school mascot. So, he told his friend, Steve Uhas, to submit the name "Polar Bears" to the contest, which was run by the student council. The name of "Polar Bears" was chosen as the name of the Margaretta High School mascot, and Steve Uhas won a dollar for being chosen the winner. He split the dollar with Russ Alspaugh, so they each received fifty cents. Margaretta's mascot has been the Polar Bears ever since the contest which took place in the fall of 1935.

Russ Alspaugh was active in the local community, and remained a fan of the Margaretta Polar Bears for many years. Russ died on February 23, 2006. He was buried in the Castalia Cemetery next to his beloved wife Edie.

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