An Iola doctor was a member of the first football team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Truman Elbert Loope was born on May 3, 1870, at Eureka, Wis. He graduated from the University of Madison in 1891 and entered Rush Medical College in Chicago, from which he graduated in 1894.
Prior to coming to Iola he practiced medicine at Horicon, Wis., Bessemer, Mich., and Manawa, Wis. He came to Iola in 1899.
Although he became totally blind in 1928, Loope continued his practice for several more years. His office and home stood on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street.
In 1941 while Loope was attending his 1891 class reunion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was interviewed by a reporter from The Capital Times of Madison, and printed in that paper on Sunday, June 22, 1941. The Iola Herald reprinted the story on Thursday, June 26, 1941.
The interview revealed some and interesting facts.
The following are excerpts from that news story.
“There were hundreds of alumni back on the University of Wisconsin Campus Saturday (June 21, 1941), but the one happiest to ‘see’ old friends, was a 71-year-old blind man from Iola, Wis., who played on the first Badger football team back in 1889.”
“Dr. Truman E. Loope lost his eye-sight after catching a severe cold at the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game in Madison in 1928, but he had a grand time as the class of 1891 held its reunion Saturday.”
“‘I remember how football started at the university,’ he said Saturday. ‘Charley Meyers went east, heard about it and came back wanting to have a team. I remember Meyers and Bill Blackburn and I talked about it all through one chemistry laboratory session. We had a hard time getting players. No one paid much attention to us, and some thought we were crazy. But we got 11 fellows together. We chipped in, bought canvas jackets and pants, and then got red stocking caps for headgear. We used old newspapers for padding.
“‘Not a single one of us had seen a game when we played the first time in Milwaukee against the Milwaukee Athletic Club. They had former college players from the east and how they licked us!
“Our mustaches were dragging on the ground when we came home. But we got better as we went along. We thought we were pretty good the next year when we beat Whitewater Normal 108-0, but then we played Minnesota the last game of the year and they beat us 61-0.’
“Dr. Loope said few of the students cared about football in those days. He recalled that his former teammates included Louis Sumner of Madison, along with John McNaught, James Kerr and Fred Prael in the backfield. Linemen were Dr. Loope, Rudolph Logeman, B.N. “Bee” Clark, Frank Miller, Walter “Tuffy” Sheldon and Bill Blackburn. Dr. Loope did not recall the other two or three men on the squad.”
All of the information in the newspaper article has been verified by the University of Wisconsin-Madison website.
According to the university, the other known players on the 1889 roster were W.L. Brooks, Andrew Bruce, W.C. Brumder and C.M. Meyers.
John McNaught was listed on the 1890 roster. Frank Miller was not listed on any roster, however, not all of the players were listed on the rosters. Only 12 of the members of the 1889 roster are listed and six of the 1890 roster.
“Recalling the last time he saw a football game, Dr. Loope said: ‘I came down here in 1928 to see Wisconsin and Minnesota on a raw, cold day. I could see fairly well then, but I caught cold on the way home and when I got over the cold my eyes were sealed up tight.
“Since then I only see the games we used to play.'”
Loope was a trustee of the village of Iola from 1901-1903 and from 1912-1916.
He served the village as its president from 1906-1908 and as health officer from 1926-1927.
He served as director of the Iola School Board from 1903 until he resigned in 1938, with the exception of about six years.
He was president of the Waupaca County Medical Society at one time.
Loope died at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night on Dec. 6, 1941.
Funeral services were held at the Methodist Church on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1941, with burial at the Riverside Cemetery at Iola.