The A.C. Burcky Award is "presented annually to the Senior athlete who has proven himself to be the most exemplar of all college products. A man who demonstrates correctness in habit and dress and gives evidence of much professional growth. Who has won leadership through fellowship that was promoted, and who kept himself loyal to truth and the sacred profession of friendship." -A. C. Burcky
By Ron Geiser, for 1997 awards program
It would be impossible to list all the contributions that Coach A. C. Burcky has made to the history of Bluffton College. The physical education and athletic programs of BC. were built on a firm foundation largely through the teaching and coaching efforts of Coach Andrew C. Burcky.
A. C. Burcky graduated from BC. in 1922. He began work at the college that fall. From 1922 on through the twenties, thirties and forties, he was a one-man athletic department. He coached football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track, women's basketball and taught all the physical education courses; served as trainer, equipment manager, handled publicity, arrange schedules, drove one of the cars to away games and much, much more. In 1930, a woman was added to the staff to teach physical education for women; and in 1950, Kenneth Mast was added to the staff to coach football, basketball, and track. Coach Burcky remained the baseball coach into the sixties.
In 1962, he was inducted into the NAIA Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Joseph, Missouri. A. C. Burcky was named Faculty Emeritus Professor of Physical Education in 1968 (1922-1968). At Homecoming, 1970, the A. C. Burcky addition to Founders Hall was dedicated in his honor.
In 1974 he was a member of the first-ever induction class into the Bluffton College Athletic Hall of Fame.
On March 19, 1987, along with the dedication of the Baseball Field portion of the new Emery Sears Athletic Complex, Coach Burcky was on hand to throw the first pitch for the opening home game.
Coach Burcky passed away on December 7, 1989 at the age of 93.
Tributes to a man considered by many to be a legend came easy after the Dec. 7 death of A.C. Burcky, long-time Bluffton College coach, teacher, and administrator.
But, perhaps Burcky himself put into words best what much of his life meant to Bluffton College and those who knew him.
As part of his speech at the October 1970 campus dedication of the A.C. Burcky addition to Founders Hall, Burcky said, "By way of definition - as I see it - a curriculum is nothing more that a great number of experiences for a student.
"Physical education - as I see it - is a part of the educational process - a total development of the individual through these experiences rather than just a development of agility, strength, and endurance as such."
PLAIN AND SIMPLE, Burcky, 93, stood for well-rounded education, what it was then and continues to strive to be today.
Perhaps in recognition of that fact, BC hired Burcky in 1922 after he had graduated from the school. Some 45 years later when he retired in 1967, the names "Coach" and "A.C." had become synonymous with Burcky and his devotion to Bluffton College as a coach of football, basketball, baseball, and track, as athletic director for years after coaching, and for his continuing efforts in the classroom.
"Coach Burcky is BC athletics," said current football head coach and athletic director Carlin Carpenter. "Our program is on solid ground now because of the foundation he laid for some 40 years. He is the program."
IN LIGHT OF the changes in today's world, where coaching staffs are selected and administrators chosen for most front office positions, Carpenter said he marveled at Burcky's accomplishments.
"Any lesser of a person couldn't have survived the demands on his time he must have had," Carpenter said. "As coach of one sport, I cannot imagine the amount of time he had for all four sports and teaching.
"You don't find these type of people today with that kind of dedication." Contrary to today's standards, Burcky's 38-108-6 coaching mark in football was far from poor, according to Carpenter.
"He was a winning coach," he said. "He is what winning coach is all about. He's what winners are all about."
FORMER COACHING NEMESIS Doyt Perry of Bowling Green football fame echoed Carpenter's tribute.
"I remember him very well," he said, via telephone from his winter home in Florida. "I'll say this, he was one great and loyal man. He's as good as any I've ever known.
"I never heard anyone ever say a bad word about A.C."
Perry said he looked forward to seeing Burcky each year at the state basketball tournaments in Columbus.
"We'd look for each other every year at tournament time," he said. Perry praised Burcky's ability to coach as well as work with youth. "He was certainly not only a great technical coach, he was a great man to work with kids," Perry said. "He was just an ideal coach. He fought hard, but there were other things that were more important than winning."
THAT IS ONE trait many of Burcky's friends and college colleagues remember most.
"I suppose what I appreciated most about him was he always insisted on fair play in anything he did," long-time BC librarian Delbert Gratz said. "Winning wasn't the most important goal, it was building character.
"If you played fair and did your best, that's all that was expected of you."
When Dr. Howard Raid arrived at Bluffton College in 1947, he soon learned about Burcky.
"He was the athletic department," Raid said. "He had all his things in one space in College Hall. You can imagine what all the smelly football suits were like with the classroom next door."
RAID SAID BURCKY was a man who knew the meaning of commitment.
"I think he was committed to his role and function in the community and the college," Raid said. "He was always willing to help in the community he lived. And he always had good rapport with his students."
One of those basketball-playing students was James R. Ehrman, who would later come to know Burcky more by the pair's Bluffton Lions Club membership.
"He had a good sense of humor and he was very devoted to Bluffton College and the Lions Club," Ehrman said. "I got to know him quite well. He was a good friend."
MEMORIES FOR EHRMAN include road trips when the eating was often good - at Burcky's expense.
"I remember going on trips where we would stop to eat and you'd get 35 cents for your meal," he said. "He'd tell us to have a banquet. That was a lot of money then."
College 'lessened' by passing: Pannabecker
Copied from The Bluffton News, Thursday, December 14, 1989
Bluffton College was "lessened" by the Dec. 7 death of A.C. Burcky, according to a campus statement released by school Provost Donald L. Pannabecker.
Because BC President Elmer Neufeld is in Bolivia and could not be contacted for comment, Pannabecker released the short statement the day after the death of Burcky, an Emeritus Professor in Physical Education at the college.
"His service to the college was considerable, and all of us - even those who may have known him only by name - are in his debt."
After listing much of Burcky's background, Pannabecker's statement concluded, "A part of each of us died with him yesterday; and much of him will live on to influence all who are part of this campus community. Students and student athletes of earlier generations, grateful for his work with them, will want us, on their behalf to maintain his memory."
BURCKY, 93, WAS hired by Bluffton College after graduating from the school in 1922. He would retire in 1967, but the honors bestowed on him would not cease.
In addition to being selected to the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1962, Burcky was chosen for the Bluffton College Hall of Fame in 1974, the Lions Club Citizen of the Year Award in 1982, and earlier this year, the National Alumni Association Board's Bluffton College Service Award.
Burcky, who attended graduate school at the Universities of Illinois and Michigan, received his master's degree from Ohio State University in 1940.
Known as "Coach" and "A.C.," Burcky was also known for his service on the Allen County Fair Board, as a Boy Scout leader, Bluffton Village Councilman, Board of Public Affairs member, high school coach, and 53-year membership to Bluffton Lions Club.