At Home On The Hilltop: Jack Theuerkauf's Story

Published: Sep. 29, 2016 at 6:54 PM CDT
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Jack Theuerkauf is coming home.

"It's been awhile."

A place full of stories.

"I let everyone of those guys know."

Of memories.

"There was a sign that said no drinking."

And smiles.

"Plus it was too expensive."

A Hilltopper fan for more than 60 years.

"Potter Hall you better believe it.," said Jack standing in front of a place he knows so well during a visit to WKU recently with his family.

He spent the majority of the day showing more than half a dozen relatives where his passion came from.

"He's the patriarch of our family," said his niece.

But Jack didn't just hit the books, he also tore up the gridiron.

"This is where you played Uncle Jack!" exclaimed the group as they walked into what's known as the colonnade on WKU's campus. Formerly, the site housed the school's football field.

His memory isn't as sharp as his college years.

"Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, I'm lost. I can't believe I'm lost."

But on the Hill, it all somehow finds it's way back.

"This is where you played football. Yeah, I know it."

It's because he was a part of a special team.

"The 1952 squad," said a proud Jack.

The Refrigerator Bowl team was anchored by Jack on the offensive line, and this day he's getting recognition, from his alma mater.

"You look in good shape," said WKU Head Coach Jeff Brohm.

"Let me ask you, could you use me," were Jack's first words meeting the man now running the program.

Soaking it in.

"Let me show you something. Look Brady," said Jack to his great-great-nephew as he waved his red towel.

Because this maybe Jack's last chance to visit the place he calls home.

"Here lately the last couple years I've had a little health problem, cancer," said Jack.

Also fighting dementia for his memory.

"I played ball, went in the service and came back."

But a man who left school for the Air Force then returned to finish school hasn't lost his grit.

"You're bringing tears to my eyes," cried Jack while looking at an old trophy case.

However, it does have him appreciating what he's built.

"We never had anything quite like that, that's for sure."


"I can't believe it," exclaimed Jack when he was surprised by his old teammates at Diddle Arena.


"There's four generations here today of Western graduates," bragged Jack's niece.

And a legacy showcased for all.

"I remember it very well."

Time may have changed his home.

"I'll be dang gone," said Jack, now looking at the empty site of his old dorm.

But he'll always know his way around. A sense of pride, and a undeniable sense of humor.

"When you get selected into Diddle dorm you have to be a brown noser."

The eye of admiration, Jack Theuerkauf lives life the way you should.

"They all thought I was a millionaire."

" You were to us," said an old teammate of Theuerkauf.

"It's just his big heart."

A memory he'll have.

"Until I part. You better believe it."

Theuerkauf said to get to and from WKU when he was in school he would hitch hike all the way from Evansville.

As a result of Jack enrolling at Western, the school has graduated ten of his kids or relatives, and bonded three marriages.