Walter F. Ersing, Ph.D., 85, peacefully passed away at home in Upper Arlington, OH on February 7, 2018. A long-time Upper Arlington resident, Dr. Ersing was born June 7, 1932 in Springfield, MA, a son of the late Erhard and Luise (Waller) Ersing.
Dr. Ersing is survived by his beloved wife of 65-years, Maryalyce (McIntosh) along with his three children, nine grandchildren, and great-granddaughter: Stephen (Christine) and grandsons William (Meredith) and great-granddaughter Coralie, Christopher, and Robert, all of Hudson, OH; Curtis (Joanne) of Beverly, MA and grandsons Ben (Jennifer) of Providence, RI, Evan (Nicole) of Chicago, IL, and Jonathan of Beverly, MA; and Kristen (Steven) Roach of Dublin, OH and grandsons Aeron and Ganen of Dublin, OH and granddaughter Kellen, at Wittenberg University. Walter is also survived by three siblings Hilda (the late Leroy Lyon) of Springfield, MA, Paul (Carol) of Ogunquit, ME and Naples, FL, and Carl (Irene) of Ludlow, MA. Walter is preceded in death by his parents and brother Hans (Eva).
There were three threads that defined Walter’s life: family, faith, and friends; education and sports, and a commitment to bettering the lives of people with disabilities. These three threads were braided tightly together to create a life of service and an enduring legacy that is both broad and deep.
Both of Walter’s parents were born in Germany and migrated to United States following the First World War. Their five children were all born in Springfield, MA. As children and teens, Walter and his siblings actively engaged in gymnastic and sports programs and in singing events sponsored by Springfield’s Turn Verein, the leading organization sustaining the German culture.
As high school seniors, Walter and Maryalyce McIntosh met and started dating—a relationship that grew into their 1954 wedding on September 11th. Their enduring 65-year marriage is a testament to their lasting love and true friendship, for richer and for poorer, for better and for worse.
Walter included all three of his children in his work and volunteer activities. Honoring the next generation, Walter and Maryalyce—Papa and Nana to their grandchildren and great-granddaughter—were very much part of their lives by attending sports, music, and art activities throughout their childhoods and college years.
Noted among his sibling relationships was the lifelong correspondence between Walter and his sister Hilda; the two-man hand-to-hand balancing act he performed professionally at county fairs, night clubs, and talent shows with his brother Hans; and the many years Carl and Irene traveled to Columbus each autumn to enjoy early Christmas exchanges and football games with grandsons Aeron and Ganen.
Faith was one of Walter’s touchstones. His journey to becoming a Christian started with Sunday school classes in his early youth at Liberty Methodist Church in Springfield, MA where he was baptized and received two years of catechism; his confirmation was completed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Springfield, MA. After moving to Columbus, OH for graduate study, Walter initially attended Holy Trinity Lutheran Church before moving to Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church, both in Upper Arlington. He was active in outreach service groups supporting the Lutheran Social Services Food Pantry and the Salvation Army’s Loaves and Fishes Ministry. His children and grandchildren all hold their Christian faith dearly, a testament to Walter and Maryalyce's faith.
A product of the Springfield (MA) Public Schools, Walter was a 1950 graduate of the High School of Commerce where he lettered in soccer, basketball, and baseball over three years and was actively involved in student activities. At Commerce High School, he was selected by the Springfield American Legion Post to attend Boys State, the respected and selective government educational experience, where he was voted by his peers to represent Massachusetts at Boys Nation in Washington, DC.
Walter continued his education at Springfield College where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education along with a concentration in Mathematics in 1954. He earned varsity letters in gymnastics (voted team captain in his senior year), track, and soccer, all three years in each sport. He was the top man doing the hand-to-hand handstand in the college’s three-man balancing team. Active in campus activities as an undergraduate, Walter served for 40 years as the Class of 1954’s representative helping to generate gifts for the college’s Alumni Fund.
Upon graduation from Springfield College, Walter was honored with two distinguished awards: induction in the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society for his scholarship, character, and demonstrated capacity for leadership; and election into the national chapter of Sigma Delta Psi athletic fraternity for demonstrating standards of performance excellence in individual sport skills and total fitness. In 1983, Ersing was further honored with the Springfield College Distinguished Alumnus Award for his outstanding achievements in the community, state, and nation.
Continuing his education at The Ohio State University, in 1955 Walter earned a Master of Education degree with a specialization in physical education along with a related concentration in adapted physical education. For his Master’s thesis, he published the biographical study The Life and Work of Leslie J. Judd to honor the legendary and beloved Springfield College faculty member and gymnastic coach.
In 1957, Walter was invited to join the The Ohio State University faculty in the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER). In addition to initially serving as an Instructor, he was also appointed the Head Coach of Men’s Varsity Soccer, a position he held for a decade. Two years after earning his Ph.D. in 1964, Dr. Ersing was promoted to Assistant Professor. In 1970, he was elevated to Associate Professor then, five years later, Professor of Education in the School of HPER. In addition to his teaching and coaching responsibilities, Dr. Ersing also served as coordinator of the Adapted Physical Education Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (APEIGP). Dr. Ersing retired to Faculty Emeritus status in 1989.
While pursuing graduate studies at OSU, Walter was director of Scioto Country Club’s Aquatic Program for each summer starting in 1957. Over this decade-long tenure, his competitive swimming program contributed to the development of Upper Arlington High School’s state champion swimmers. His Scioto Country Club staff often included OSU’s Olympic diving athletes and synchronized swimming specialists from the OSU Woman’s Synchronized Team.
Walter joined the active United States Army Reserve Medical Detachment of the 989th Engineering Battalion in 1956 while pursuing his doctoral degree, meeting monthly at the US Army’s Fort Hayes (Columbus, OH) and for two weeks each year at an engineering base on the East coast. After 12 years in the 989th, Sgt. Ersing of the Medic Corps was Honorably Discharged from the US Army Reserves.
Walter Ersing’s personal and professional life has been one of service by developing curricula and educational programs, and he has been recognized and honored for his pioneering efforts in several areas that reflect his commitment to bettering the lives of others, the third thread of his life’s story.
One of Walter Ersing’s most visible accomplishments at The Ohio State University was creating and running the Adapted Physical Education Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (APEIGP), which was a specialization within the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) and an academic unit of the renowned Nisonger Center, one of the first university-affiliated facilities to receive federal funding in the 1960s. The APEIGP prepared specialists at the Masters and Doctoral levels to serve children, youth, and adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities through programs of fundamental motor development, physical fitness activities, sport skills, and recreational abilities.
By winning competitive federal grants from the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, graduate students received vital funds for professional preparation stipends, research projects, and in-service education for over two decades. One recognized educational service provided by graduate students supported by these federal grants was the Developmental Motor Laboratory (DML). This program was a one-on-one teaching model for physical education undergraduate students who were supervised by the APEIGP graduate students to work with children with special needs of various ages from greater central Ohio. The DML Program proved incredibly valuable because it offered the only opportunity for most of these children to experience weekly physical activity, swimming, and fundamental development.
Among his several responsibilities within the School of HPER, Walter served as director of the department’s Bureau of Education for the Handicap Midwest Institute for State Special Education Directors, which was designed to clarify the role of adapted physical education in the education of students with special needs. He also coordinated and made presentations, along with APEIGP doctoral students, at every Ohio Committee Hearing on Professional Guidelines throughout Ohio resulting in the approval of the Adapted Physical Education Teaching Certification Standard.
Adapted physical therapy workshops were among the in-service activities provided by the APEIGP for some 15 years and made possible through the federal grants. These workshops attracted adapted physical education specialists, special education teachers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists from the Midwest.
The APEIGP attracted students from the throughout the United States and from Europe, Israel, and Jordan. Graduates from the program have taken professional roles in college professional preparation programs, public school administrations serving special needs students, adapted physical education specialists in public schools and in schools serving special needs individuals, and in Special Olympic programming.
Walter’s involvements in and recognition by professional organizations included the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) which honored him with the Adapted Physical Activity Council Special Recognition Award for significant contributions to the education of individuals with special needs. He also served as a member of the AAHPERD National Consortium of PER for the Handicapped, as Chairperson for both the Midwest and the Ohio AAHPERD Adapted PE Sections; and he received recognition by the Ohio AAHPERD in 1990 with the Certificate of Merit for unstinted and valuable service rendered to the profession of Adapted Physical Education In Ohio. In 1981, the Ohio Association recognized Dr. Ersing as the Outstanding College Teacher for the physically and developmentally challenged.
His memberships on several professional boards serving special needs individuals included Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. and the Childhood League Center as a professional advisory board member for 15 years. Among other agencies Walter served were the Council for Retarded Citizens, Franklin County United Cerebral Palsy, the Epilepsy Foundation of the Franklin County Association, and Fore Hope.
Walter was honored by The National Society for Autistic Children with a Certificate of Appreciation in 1978, by the Franklin County Business Women’s Association (ABWA), which presented him the Award of Distinction in 1976, and the Voyager Chapter of the ABWA extended him the Employer of the Year Award in 1977
Walter’s contributions to the professional literature included articles in nearly 25 different professional journals and select publications in monographs and books. He presented at several conferences including international, national, state, and county symposia/colloquia/convention programs.
Among his noted involvement with community agencies serving individuals with special needs was his effort with the Ohio Special Olympics, Inc. (OSO), an organization to which he contributed 40 years of service on the Board of Trustees. He was one of the five original Board members that served during the founding of the first Ohio Special Olympic Athletics under Dick Ruff, and, at one point, served as Vice-President of the Executive Committee.
His other volunteer activities with OSO included being Director of the December State Special Olympics Swimming Championships for 20 years and organizer of Games and Developmental Activities Clinics for ten years in conjunction with the OSO Summer Games. He also served as an official for the OSO Soccer Tournament as part of the OSO Summer Games. In 1976, he received the Award of Commendation from Special Olympics of the Kennedy Foundation; he was recognized in the late 1980s as the “Games Coach” by OSO during a Summer Games event.
Walter’s pioneering efforts to serve the wheelchair athlete was evident in 1970 when he co-founded the Ohio Wheelchair Games (OW Games) sponsored by the Ohio Wheelchair Athletic Association (OWAA) and served as Director of the OW Games for 16 years. His leadership efforts resulted in the OW Games being the only Ohio-based wheelchair competition certified to qualify wheelchair athletes for the national games of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association.
The OW Games offered competition in track and field events along with archery, bowling, billiards, tennis, bocce, and wheelchair slalom. The OW Games was recognized as one of the leading wheelchair qualifying games in the country attracting, in select years, wheelchair sport teams from Texas and Florida.
His involvement with the Ohio Wheelchair Athletic Association (OWAA) included serving as President of the OWAA for six years, and President of the OWAA Board of Trustees for ten years. In April 1987 he was inducted into the Ohio Wheelchair Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to the development of competition for wheelchair athletes. The Yessenoff Award—the highest award presented by OWAA for outstanding contributions to wheelchair sports—was presented to him in April 1975.
In addition, Dr. Ersing received the Tom Frank Memorial Award, the highest honor presented by Creative Living for bringing new and enriched quality of life for the physically disabled through the Ohio Wheelchair Games and the preparation of specialists through the APEIGP.
In light of his contributions to soccer, Walter is considered to be among the pioneers in the sport in the United States with his appointment as the Head Coach of Men’s Soccer at The Ohio State University in 1957.
As Head Coach of OSU’s Men’s Soccer for over a decade beginning in 1957, Walter had two sons who interacted with the OSU soccer players who were being coached by their Dad. It was evident that Curtis and Stephen’s interest in both the sport and in soccer skill development emerged and needed a development program. In 1968, Ersing founded the Upper Arlington Youth Soccer Program, and, with the help of a former varsity player, he organized and provided soccer instruction and competition for boys attending Jones and Hastings Junior High Schools. The Northwest Kiwanis, which eventually assumed responsibility for the Upper Arlington Youth Soccer Program, recognized Walter’s contributions and established an award of Excellence in Sportsmanship in his name, which is still presented annually to a member of the Upper Arlington Boys Varsity Soccer Team.
Within little more than a year after beginning the Upper Arlington Youth Soccer Program, in 1969, Walter co-founded the first organized soccer league for youth: the Central Ohio Soccer League (COSL). He continued his leadership with COSL by serving as the Commissioner for six years. COSL became the farm system that resulted in several high schools establishing their own varsity soccer programs, stimulated by the experienced soccer players made available through the COSL development programs.
During his college soccer coaching career, Walter was elected to leadership positions at the state, national, and international. Notably, he served on the US Olympic Committee from 1964 to 1974 and was responsible for selecting the US soccer athletes for both the World Olympic Games and the Pan American Games. Two years later, in 1976, he received the Award of Commendation from the US Olympic Committee, the Olympic House, for his cooperation, devotion, understanding, and service to the Olympic movement.
In 1966 and 1967, Walter served as Vice-President of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and, in 1968, stepped aside from serving as President due to new OSU professional responsibilities. At the state level, he served as President of the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Coaching Association from 1964 to 1970.
In addition to coaching, another of Walter’s contributions to soccer was his commitment to soccer officiating that began in 1957 with a college game. After 54 years of college soccer officiating, he stepped aside in 2010. His high school soccer officiating began in 1972 and lasted until 2015, 44 years of service. Additionally, he officiated for five years in youth spring soccer in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Walter also was founder and co-chairperson of the Central Ohio Soccer Officials Association from 1974 to 1977.
Recognition of his soccer officiating include being voted into the Hall of Fame of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association in 1995; the Hall of Fame of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Soccer Officials in 2013, an award which represents OHSAA’s highest honor for an official; and President of the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Officials Association from 1980 to 1988.
Although soccer officiating was Walter’s most prominent officiating role, it was swimming, however, that was his first experience in officiating sport. In 1954 as he started graduate studies at OSU, Mike Peppe, the internationally known OSU Men’s Swimming Coach, extended an invitation to Walter to officiate. Walter initially officiated OSU Men’s Team meets but, by 1956, was invited to provide officiating services to several other colleges in Central and Southern Ohio. He continued officiating swimming until his passing.
Among the noted events in his swimming officiating career, in 2014 Walter was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the OHSAA Swimming Coaches Association for his many years of service to high school swimming.
Walter served as Meet Director of the OHSAA State High School Swimming Championships for 28 years, from 1957 to 1985, and is recognized for establishing the “at-large” regulation as part of the qualifying process to the meet. In 1984, he received the OHSAA Certificate of Appreciation for significant contributions to OHSAA.
Walter’s other significant contribution to sport also involved soccer. In 1990, he founded the Excellence in Sportsmanship Scholarship Program (EESP) and served as its administrative leader for twenty years. The ESSP honors six-to-nine high school soccer student-players in greater central Ohio for demonstrating excellence in sportsmanship on the field. Players are selected by high school soccer officials and receive a $1,000 scholarship for their post-high school education. The tradition of the ESSP is continuing and approaching three decades, and the ESSP is the only sponsored event of its kind by local chapters of OHSAA. The Central Ohio Chapters sponsoring ESSP are Central Ohio Soccer Officials Association and Licking County Soccer Officials Association.
Family, faith, and friends; education and sports; bettering the lives of others: the threads of Walter F. Ersing’s long and rich life. Through his children, grandchildren, and great grandchild, through his athletes, through his students who now teach students of their own, the legacy of this kind, humble man will go on.
The private burial service will begin at the Wilbraham Funeral Home in Wilbraham, MA. Interment and a graveside memorial service will be held at the Hillcrest Park Cemetery, 895 Parker Street, Springfield, MA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the OSU Select Fund #483217, W.F. Ersing ESF, and mailed to OSU Foundation, 1480 W. Lane Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43221 or to the Ersing Endowed Scholarship Fund, Springfield College, Office of Development Alumni Fund, 263 Alden Street, Springfield, Massachusetts 01109-9987. Condolences for the family may be expressed through: firstname.lastname@example.org or online to www.johnquint.com or www.wilbrahamfuneralhome.com.