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(Neb)-CSC Charter Hall Of Famer Wilmer Planansky Dies at 97

By: John Axtell Posted at: 09/10/2017 10:42 PM


 Hemingford native and Chadron State College Athletic Hall of Fame charter member Wilmer Planansky has died, passing away Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Cayucos, Calif., at age 97.

Planansky was a standout athlete at CSC in the late 1930s, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and gained widespread recognition for building an exemplary health and physical education program at the California school where he taught for 33 years.

He had just $15 when he arrived at Chadron State in 1936. Years later he recalled that he needed $10 more to pay his bills. He was about to head back home when Ross Armstrong, who was affiliated with the college as a coach and administrator for more than 50 years, loaned him the money so he could stay in school.

               Planansky, who was born Sept. 29, 1919, was only 16 when he played in his first football games for the Eagles. He was a four-year starter in both football and basketball and also earned two letters in track and field as a high jumper, pole vaulter, javelin thrower and the anchor runner on the mile relay team.

He was among the 32 charter inductees into the CSC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.  Bud Larsen of Springview, Neb., is now the only surviving member of the initial Hall of Fame class. 

  During a visit to his home area in 2008, Planansky said basketball was probably his best sport. The Eagles were 60-22 during his college basketball career.

While attending Chadron State, he also was an officer in several organizations, was named to “Who’s Who” and earned a private pilot’s license through the Civilian Pilot Program at the Chadron airport.

               After teaching and coaching one year at Bridgeport, Planansky went to the University of Wyoming for more flight training and airplane mechanical training. He then spent three years in the Navy.

               Beginning in 1947, Planansky was a physical education instructor at El Monte School District in California until retiring in 1980. The school system was one of California’s largest, and he was recognized for developing an intramural program that school administrators said improved discipline and raised the morale among students. His honors included the Golden Apple Award. 

He also gave many years of service to the Catholic Church and helped with Special Olympics.

               Golf is another of Planansky’s passions. Well into his 80s, he and his wife, Bobbi, returned several times to western Nebraska to visit relatives and so Wilmer could play in the Don Beebe Golf Classic at CSC.

               Planansky’s wife died in 2012.  In recent years, he lived with a son and his wife and went to church each day to pray, according to family members.  He had a motorized cart that he rode to the church, but he insisted on walking at least part of the way back home, letting a family member return the cart. 

               At least 16 Plananskys, including a few who married into the family, have attended Chadron State.  Wilmer’s sister, Joan, was the homecoming queen in 1950.  A great nephew, Joe, was an All-American tight end for the Eagles in 1993 and 1994 and was inducted into the CSC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

               This past June, a nephew, Ed “Murph” Planansky of Hemingford, was inducted into the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in honor of his more than 35 years of coaching the sport either as an assistant or head coach at Chadron, Hemingford and Hay Springs high schools.


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