John N. Oliver Sr.

Oliver obit

On Oct. 15, 2017, John N. Oliver Sr., or “Newt” as everybody knew him, was called to the Lord, completing his journey here on Earth passing at the Ohio State University Hospital after a brief illness.

Newt was born in Byesville, on Christmas Day 1923, which caused him to affectionately remind the family every Christmas that he wasn’t getting enough gifts.

After growing up in Byesville, and graduating from high school he worked for a short time before enlisting in the United States Coast Guard in 1942 to serve during World War II until being discharged in 1945. 

Newt then returned home to Byesville and worked for a time before enrolling at Rio Grande College in southern Ohio where he became an outstanding basketball player gaining national attention during one year as the leading scorer in the country.

After graduation from Rio Grande College and marrying his surviving wife of 69 years, Maxine M. Rehme Oliver, he took several head basketball coaching positions around Ohio including at Upper Sandusky and Wellsville. In between the high school years during the summer breaks, he and Maxine would travel to the University of Wyoming attending classes where he would eventually graduate with a naster’s degree in public health. After coaching at Wellsville, Newt and Maxine returned to Rio Grande College where Newt was offered and accepted the head basketball coaching position in 1952. Starting from scratch, he mustered up a team that gained national attention, compiling a record of 39-0 in the 1952-1953 season. Bevo Francis, one of his players from the Wellsville team who also came to Rio Grande with Newt, was a big part of the success of the team scoring more than 100 points in several games. After coaching at Rio Grande for several years, he and Maxine moved to Springfield. Newt then took a position with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball organization, and after several years of constant travel, he decided to accept a high school teaching position at Northwestern High School in Clark County, where he was also the athletic director. During that time, he built a very successful drive-in restaurant called Newt Oliver’s Frostop Drive-In Restaurant that was located along west First Street in Springfield, where the current Bob Evans Restaurant is located. In the 1970s and 1980s, Newt was elected as a Clark County Commissioner and served two terms. After serving on the commission, he retired, which then allowed him to spend a lot of time doing what he loved most, cutting and selling firewood on his farm property in Logan County, with his dear friends Lloyd and Kenny.

Newt, by all means, led a full and prosperous life greatly enjoying time with his family and friends especially his two great-grandsons, Henry and Charlie, who survive and whom he loved dearly.

He also is survived by a son Newt (Mary) Jr. of Springfield; granddaughter Kristen L. (Drew) Oliver Ewing of Liberty, Ind.; brother-in-law, John (Margaret) Rehme of South Webster; along with many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.

Newt was preceded in death by a grandson, John N. Oliver III, of Springfield; his parents Dewitt and Ollie Oliver of Byesville; a brother, Raymond Oliver of Byesville; a sister, Berniece Conkle of Marion; and a sister ,Berdine Schlifke of Buffalo, N.Y.

Services to honor Newt are 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, in the Richards, Raff & Dunbar Memorial Home, 838 E. High St., Springfield, where calling is two hours prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to preferred charities or the University of Rio Grande, Office of Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 500, Rio Grande, OH 45674, for designated use of the Athletic Department for the Boys and Girls Basketball Scholarship Fund.

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