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More than 250 alumni, friends, and family gathered in the Moose and Dona Woltzen Gym on Lakeland's campus on Sunday, March 15 to honor the life of our beloved athletic director and basketball coach, Duane "Moose" Woltzen. Alumni traveled from as far as California and New York to be present. Among the attendees were many of members of the Lakeland extended family.
Although many individuals who loved Moose could not make it, the spirit of all the lives that Moose and Dona touched and helped to shape over the years was felt in the room.
The recurring themes that were touched upon included Moose's notions of discipline and teamwork, of mutual respect and the giving of second chances. Moose always spoke of himself and Dona as "a team." The caring and love they shared as a team helped to shape and influence the lives of so many Lakeland students.
The mood at the event was at times tearful and at other times joyous as words were shared by many of Moose's protégés, including Waymon Stewart '69, Jay Parkins '71, Bobby Loffredo '70, Michael Hotz '71, Dave Voskuil '74, and David Pierce '70, whose words were shared by letter. Jane Bouche, Lakeland's Director of Athletics, also spoke and offered her fond memories of a man she described as "a giant among men," standing "head and shoulders above others."
She went on to say, "Moose's dedication to his players, family, and community was unparalleled. He made his athletes' time at Lakeland 'a time to remember.' His great enthusiasm for his work and dedication to those he coached put him in a league of his own. Many people here today are who they are because of the connection to Coach Moose Woltzen. He runs through all of our veins."
From Bob Loffredo '70, Vice President of Snap-on Tools, who wrote of his suspension from the team at one point and how Moose dealt with it: "Coach told me to go home to Pittsburgh to tell my parents. At that time, I was on academic probation and on social probation. Upon returning to Lakeland, I met with Coach. He told me if I was going to be a student athlete, this was the path I needed to follow. We discussed my courses for second semester. I passed and went to summer school to make up credits from first semester. I returned in the fall with my teammates and a few new players, Tom Riffey and Pat Curran to name a few. If Coach did not care or had shown a lack of regard, there is no telling where I would have ended up!"
From David Pierce '70: Coach was like a father to me as he was to many of us that played for him in the 60's. I would not have been successful today had it not been for "Moose." He was an inspiration and mentor to us all. We are better people today for knowing him. We will miss him, but will never forget all the lessons of life that he taught us. Moose and Dona are now rejoicing in heaven.