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Historical Bluffton

The first Bluffton Pirate

8th in a series about famous BHS alumni

By Fred Steiner

May 7, 1912 - Jan. 25, 2013
BHS class of 1929

Question: Why is the Bluffton High School mascot a pirate?

Answer: Because of John Hartzler, member of the Bluffton High School class of 1929. While some say it takes a village to make a child, For Bluffton, it took a John Hartzler to make us Pirates.

But, there’s much more to Hartzler’s story than the naming of the BHS school mascot, as that explanation comes later. This lanky 6-foot-5-inch athletic and talented musician, following college, was an extremely popular high school teacher and school administrator, eventually becoming assistant school superintendent of the Akron City Public Schools.

Judge and Mayor Ralph S. Locher

By Fred Steiner

Ralph Sidney Locher

July 24, 1915 – June 18, 2004
1932 Bluffton High School graduate
1936 Bluffton College graduate

Using politic jargon, he’s Bluffton’s Favorite Son.

First BHS women to become physicians, take two

CORRECTION Missing link at story's end has been added.

By Fred Steiner, Icon founder

Dr. Rosella Louise Biederman Boehm, M.D.
Born: March 12, 1897, Died: Nov. 8, 1955
Bluffton High School class of 1914
Bluffton College class of 1919

Declaring Dr. Mary Alice Howe Thomas as the first female Bluffton High School graduate to become a physician proves that nothing is ever certain.

Last week we stated that Dr. Thomas, BHS 1940, holds this title. Soon after this story was posted, we discovered two earlier female physicians who lived in the Bluffton School district. They are: 

Rosella L. Biederman Boehm, (1897-1955), 1914 Bluffton High School graduate, who became a physician in 1925. 

Ida Eby, (1881-1960), who attended the Diller county school, part of the Bluffton system in Richland Township, who became a physician in 1919. We will focus on Ida in a later feature, as we continue to collect details about her medical career.

Dr. Mary Alice Howe Thomas, first BHS female grad to become a physician

By Fred Steiner

Dr. Mary Alice Howe Thomas
Born: April 23, 1922
Died: Jan. 1, 2018 
Member of the Bluffton High School class of 1940
Bluffton College class of 1943

The word “versatility” printed under Mary Alice Howe’s senior photo in the 1940 Bluffton High School Buccaneer is no accident.

Col. Rene Studler, Bluffton's professional soldier

4th in a series of famous Bluffton High School alumni

By Fred Steiner

Rene R. Studler
Bluffton High School class of 1913
Born: Feb. 10, 1895
Died: Aug. 6, 1980

Call him Bluffton’s professional soldier. Recipient of the Legion of Merit,  the nation’s highest military award for non-combat service, Rene R. Studler served in many capacities in two world wars and became the U.S. Army’s chief of research and development on small arms, holding that post until his retirement.

• Under his direction and direct involvement, the U.S. Navy created the fighter plane ejection seat and canopy removers, 

• Chaired the development of the .30 caliber M1 carbine,


R.L. Triplett created more jobs than any person in Bluffton's history

Third in a series of famous Bluffton High School alumni

By Fred Steiner

Ray Leon “R.L.” Triplett
Nov. 13, 1883 - Oct. 25, 1977
Bluffton High School class of 1902

Call it small-town ingenuity. Bluffton’s favorite entrepreneurial son became a 20th century household name here.

R.L. Triplett, founded an industry, which became a leader in its field. And, his business model spurred the local economy crediting him with created more jobs than any other person in our village history. For nearly eight decades the Triplett company was Bluffton’s largest single industrial operation and employer.

As a family-owned business from 1904 until 1983, the Triplett Electrical Instrument Co., was affectionally referred to locally as “the meter works.”  Under its later ownership, the company eventually closed.