Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

By Any Name, Wismann Was a Standout

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

By Any Name, Wismann Was a Standout

Article excerpt

Of the paths that recently brought back former St. Louis University football players for their annual October outing, the man who traveled the greatest distance - and probably had the greatest all-around athletic adventure and skill - was a guy I originally mislabeled in print.

Fifty-three years ago, interviewing Lawrence "Pete" Wismann, I called him "Clarence." I never forgot and neither did some of his football friends, but I was fortunate that Wismann was forgiving.

After all, then and even now - at 73 ruddy, rugged and still able to lay a bit of brick for his prosperous San Francisco contracting firm - Pete could have put me on my backside, the location of many players with whom he collided as a college and pro linebacker.

Although the Maplewood-born athlete played and captained St. Louis U. just before the Billikens gave up football in 1949, he had an additional distinction among the more than 100 "Dinosaurs" who broke bread. He also lettered for the Bills' old Thanksgiving Day rivals, Washington University.

Beginning his athletic Odyssey, for-the-love-of-Pete starred as a freshman center-linebacker for Tom "Kitty" Gorman's promising team of underlings in 1942. Although they played a superior schedule, including Kansas and Iowa as well as tough war-time Tulsa and Oklahoma A&M teams, the favored Bears were upset in the old home town foes' last game. Dukes Duford's St. Louis side scored a third consecutive victory over WU, 27-0.

A Marine inductee, Wismann was assigned to an officer training preamble at Miami of Ohio. There, in 1943 he played for Stu Holcomb, who, facing induction, arranged for induction by which he served under Col. Earl "Red" Blaik's famed Army Black Knights of the Hudson the rest of the war.

Wismann, offered a congressional appointment, could have been been at West Point, too, but he backed down after a visit, believing he couldn't measure up overall. Angrily, Blaik called the kid's decision to stay in the Marines "asinine."

Smiling, Wismann recalled, "Maybe not too smart." Assigned to active duty, he reached Saipan after invasion of the stepping-stone island to Japan, but he was drilling for invasion of Formosa (Taiwan) when the atomic bomb ended the war. …

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