Duane “Sonny” Yoder was born on September 30, 1934 in Orrville, Ohio to Gordon and Ila Yoder. He married Janet Rosser, his high school sweetheart, in 1955. The marriage was blessed with two children, Scott and Beth Ann, three grandchildren, twin girls Lauren and Caroline and a grandson Matthew.
The Yoder family moved to Loudonville when Duane was two years old. An avid high school athlete, he earned nine varsity letters; three football, two basketball, two baseball and two in track. His parents were his biggest supporters, attending every high school and college game. The football team had undefeated seasons his sophomore and senior years. Duane played half the time his sophomore year and started every game as a junior and senior. Playing both offense and defense as halfback, he averaged 10.4 yards per carry and scored 30 point his senior year.
In basketball Duane was productive setting up the offense, guarding the opponent’s best player, rebounding and running the fast break. His schedule as starting catcher in baseball was sometimes in conflict with track meets. His best times in track were 10.0 in the 100 yard dash and 22.5 in the 220 yard dash. He was the first in L.H.S. history to qualify for the state Class B meet held in the OSU Stadium.
While attending Ashland College, Duane earned two varsity letters in football and two in track. As a freshman he started several games as offensive and defensive halfback, returning punts and kickoffs. The next three years he started every game. The Eagles first undefeated team was the 1954 “Hungry Hounds”, scoring 119 to the opponents 19.
In 1955 Duane finished second in total yards, second in scoring, first in punt returns and first in pass receptions. His best game was against Ohio Northern with three touchdowns for 124 yards, 84 yards being the longest.
After graduation in 1956, Duane became Milan High School’s first ever head football coach. His only assistant had never played or coached football. Basic instruction to the players began with “this is a football”.
A move to Genoa in 1959 found Duane serving as defensive coordinator in football and assistant basketball coach for three years. Although the smallest school in the league, they finished second one year and as league champions the third.
1962 found Duane as head baseball coach at Toledo Macomber, a four year all boys vocational school. As the program developed they won the city championship and played in the regional finals. Six players went on to mid-Ohio and mid-American baseball. As defensive coordinator in football Duane saw the team become City Champs; he proudly watched as three players made all Ohio, three became all Americans in college, and two went on to play professional football.
Eventually Duane’s career took him from the classroom to administration. He served as Assistant Principal of Wooster High School from 1966 to 1969. From 1969 to 1983, as Principal of Madison High School, he spearheaded the opening of the vocational department; in 1975 the school became Madison Comprehensive High School. Duane retired from the Madison school system as Assistant Superintendent in 1985.
During his time as director of the Mansfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, Duane attracted the National Trappers Association convention to Mansfield and was instrumental in the establishment of the Miss Ohio Festival in Central Park.
While Duane served as President of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce the plans were initiated and funds raised for the first Balloon Festival. Ashland natives astronaut Robert Springer and Richard Dauch of Chrysler Corporation were guest speakers at the annual chamber dinners.
Looking back over his long career Duane Yoder acknowledges, “None of the things I accomplished in sports or my profession would have happened without the faithful support of my devoted wife, Jan.” Sadly his wife of 56 years passed away in 2012.
Nominated by Dave Gray