Former Schaumburg athletic director Gary Scholz dies at 90
The spaghetti dinners were legendary.
And so too was Gary Scholz, who had the football field at Schaumburg High School named after him in 1989, when he retired after nearly 20 years of service.
Scholz, who died Monday at the age of 90 after recently being diagnosed with leukemia, was the athletic director at Schaumburg from 1980 to 1989. Before that, he was an assistant coach of a variety of sports, including the boys basketball team for which he and his wife Inge hosted frequent spaghetti dinners.
"My mom made an excellent sauce," said Cathy Scholz-Garcia, Scholz's eldest daughter. "Everything was homemade and the boys loved it. We had spaghetti and salad and bread and milk and Kool- Aid. The boys were thrilled to be in coach's house."
Scholz would promise spaghetti dinners to his teams if they kept the score of the opponents under a certain amount.
"He was famous for those spaghetti dinners for the kids," said Tom Mueller, who worked at Schaumburg from 1978 to 2011, and coached with Scholz. "The kids remember those dinners to this day as men. Those dinners brought the kids closer together. A lot of teams seem to do team dinners now, but back then, they were practically unheard of. The kids loved having a meal with their coach.
"I bet they can't tell you much about the wins and losses anymore, but they remember those dinners."
Scholz, one of the first employees at Schaumburg High School, where he taught physical education and driver's education, was flown in by helicopter for the dedication of the football field in his name.
"Tom wore his heart on his sleeve about things like that," Mueller said of the dedication. "He was emotional and taken aback and so humble and appreciative."
Before arriving at Schaumburg High School in 1970, Scholz graduated from Steinmetz High School in 1948 and played football at Northern Illinois University as a tight end. He graduated from NIU with a master's degree in 1958.
He also served in the Korean War, and in 1961, he became head football coach at Elmwood High School, where he taught for nine years.
Another tradition that Scholz started once he got to Schaumburg was a fishing trip to Canada in June that he organized for freshmen boys and their fathers.
Scholz and his wife Inge, who is now 89, were married for 69 years and had four children: Gary, Cathy, Scott and Karen. There are six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren in the family. The family lives in California.
"Gary and Inge raised four great kids who all went to Schaumburg and played sports," Mueller said. "They had a great family and Gary was just a fantastic guy, a legend at Schaumburg.
"I learned so much from him about practices and organization and game situations. I loved picking his brain. He was always willing to help young coaches. He was a mentor to so many of us."
In fact, many of Scholz's former players still keep in touch.
"He'd gotten phone calls recently from some of them," Scholz-Garcia said. "He didn't disappear no matter how old he was. They were still reaching out to him."