Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Coach Ras Vanderloo:
He could make the worst case scenario seem like the best thing in the world. He talked so much about loyalty, respect, tradition about East High Football
…him being an old military man. He was very proud of that. He’d remind you often about that…he was an old marine, toughest guy in town.
Showing those kids how to line up for the national anthem, showing them how to stand at attention for the flag, things that aren’t taught anywhere else…it was taught on the football field…and he was awesome at it…”the other things” as he would say..
He talked constantly about RESPECT…your mother, your family, your girlfriend, the school. “Don’t ever forget where you came from,” he’d say.
Walt wanted things very nice. He’d say, “We want to be like those big boys, down in Lincoln, Iowa City, Manhattan, those fancy places…” but he wanted it the East High way and that was doing it right.
He loved every player. He loved the best guys. He loved the NFL guys, David Croston, Bill Lewis, Wager… he bragged about them everywhere he went. But he bragged about those guys who weren’t very good, too. The little guy. The guy that came out who weighed 104 pounds and ya knew probably couldn’t do anything…he knew it, we knew, it, everybody knew it. But he made that kid feel like Superman some days. He’d put those kids in situations where he knew they would succeed…to make them feel good. He treated that person just like the big guys-the all staters, the NFL guys. They were all the same…it did not matter who you were.
Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Coach Ken Winkler:
He was a leader, colleague, friend, mentor…a breath of fresh air.
The most positive person I’ve ever been around.
He coached for all the right reasons.
He coached for the kids and not for himself.
He used to say, “Kenny, the one thing I want to do is I want to have 100 juniors and seniors out for football and I’m gonna line those kids up from the goal line to the goal line during the National Anthem.”
Walt coached the Shrine Game when it was in Sioux City. Normally when the Shrine Game is over, the kids just mingle with their families and friends that were at the game. But in the middle of the field there were 40 Shrine kids from 40 different high schools that he had been with for 10 days and they were all chanting, “Walter! Walter! Walter!” waiting for him to come back for one last time. And I think that speaks volumes about what Walt was about. Kids cared about him and he cared about the kids.
Remembering Walt Fiegel in the words of Rev. Alex Washington:
He was always completely candid, speaking his mind, whether you agreed with him or not. He was very honest and very open with his opinions, and he always had some very definite opinions. That is a good, admiral quality to have in an individual because you never had to wonder what Walt was thinking or where he stood on any issue. The man you saw was the man he was. And he expected that same kind of honesty from all of us. He had a strong sense of right and wrong. When he knew he was right, he would not compromise his principles. His strong convictions of right and wrong were very evident.
He was very friendly, very outgoing. The high esteem in which this man was held by the people of our community is a matter of common knowledge.
He was a man who had a keen sense of humor. A keen sense of humor is a flexible way of being able to enjoy life…That keen sense of humor enabled Walt to look past all the problems, all the disappointments, all the heartaches of life and experience life with a sense of joy and happiness.
He had a lot of happy days during his lifetime. His happiest days were the days he was surrounded by the members of his families because he enjoyed doing things with them and for them.
He was devoted to his family…and never failed to be there for them.
Walt was a man who always had time for his family. To deserve and receive the love and trust of a family is one of life’s greatest achievements and richest blessings.
How do you say goodbye to someone you love? You don’t…you say thanks for the wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Thanks for the profound and meaningful lessons you taught us by the kind of man you were.
Just came across your Walt Fiegel Foundation web page & want to add my two cents.
I played eight-man football at Tripp, South Dakota, as a freshman in the fall of 1962 — the last year Fiegel coached at Tripp. I was one of two freshman to letter in football that year. The other freshman who lettered was my best friend, Glen Reiner. And there’s the Iowa connection. Glen’s son, Jared Reiner, played basketball for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes from 2000-2004. Jared is now a rookie with the Chicago Bulls.