Weber Nomination

I am nominating Frank Godeke for a lifetime achievement award.

Mr. Godeke was born in Olney, Illinois on January 10, 1901 the son of a renowned gunsmith. He graduated from Olney Township High School, I believe in 1919. In addition to his academics he was a valuable member of the track team having medaled in both the running long jump and the discuss.

After high school he obtained his bachelor’s degree, with a major in law, from the University of Illinois. He was an outstanding baseball athlete, having lettered at least two years. (Later he returned to Illinois and obtained his master’s degree in history.) He returned to Olney to teach history, being the subject that most of us had the pleasure of studying under him. He also taught a variety of other subjects as needed. In addition to his teaching, he assumed the role of coach for the track and field team.

In 1939, shortly after the birth of his second child he left his chosen profession, which he loved, in order to better provide for his young family.  He purchased an interest in a local retail establishment with Charlie Berger selling motor vehicle parts, accessories, gasoline (for those of you who remember the establishment on West Main Street just northwest of the courthouse) and sports equipment. He worked long and hard hours and became quite successful although his real desire was to return to teaching and being with the students he loved.

In about 1950 when he could afford to do so, he returned to his favorite calling and again began teaching at the high school. When the high school principal position was vacant (about 1951), he reluctantly agreed to fill the position until another qualified person could be found. Needless to say, he ran a tight ship as the principal but with kindness and humor. (I'm sure there are many stories of his kindness in disciplining students, but I remember in my freshman year an instance when a couple were walking down the hall showing a little too much PDA. He calmly walked up behind the couple, reached between them, separating them and taking the girls hand in his, he proceeded to walk down the hall toward her next class.) After  several years he gave an ultimatum to the board to find his replacement so that he could return to the classroom for the 1961-1962 school year.. He was a master teacher and many of us found a love for our history and respect for the government.

He was a devoted husband and father. After the death of his spouse and in his memory and her memory, the family established an unusual scholarship program to promote post-graduate education for graduates of ERHS and based on the candidates accomplishments. Many fine local students have benefitted from his families philanthropy which continues to this day.


Tom L. Weber