Since 2007, the histories of several Kirkwood High School football coaches have remained elusive. However, due to the increasing number of historical databases and systems of communication being made available in the digital age, two more lost Kirkwood coaches are now found in 2012.
Coach John Engerson
A hundred years ago, in 1912, Kirkwood football was coached by John Fay Engerson, who was born September 5, 1894 in Six Lakes, Michigan. He attended Lake Odessa High School in Odessa, Michigan and then attended Valparaiso University, in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he matriculated in the spring of 1912 with a degree in manual training.
In the autumn of 1912, he came to Kirkwood High School to teach manual arts and he became coach of the football team. His time at Kirkwood and as coach of the team lasted for only one year, after which he took employment with Maplewood High School. Because Maplewood did not have a yearbook until 1927, it is unknown in detail what he did as a teacher and coach, although it is known that he did coach the rifle team.
In 1928, Engerson left Maplewood to return to his home state of Michigan and he started a company in Detroit called Answering Service, Incorporated. The company originated as a referral service but transitioned into the first telephone answering service. The company became quite prominent in 1942 because of its much needed service calling persons to awaken them for work. In 1942 America, alarm clock manufacturing was greatly curtailed due to the war and services, such as Answering Service, Incorporated, met the need of many to be awakened for their jobs.
Engerson married Elsie Shepard, also from Michigan; had two daughters, Alice and Clair; and had two grandsons, James and John. The two grandsons still run Answering Service, Incorporated today.
Coach Hap Bernard
Ninety years ago, Kirkwood had one of its finest football seasons, coached by Hap Bernard. Albert P. J. “John” Bernard was born November 4, 1890, in Oakville, Missouri. Little has been found of his early life but his older brother, Emil C. Bernard, was an early Superintendent of the Mehlville School District and now has an elementary school named for him.
Bernard first attended college at Southeast Missouri Normal School (now Southeast Missouri State), in Cape Girardeu, from 1908 to 1912. There, he was an athletic sensation in football, basketball, and baseball and earned all-conference honours. In 1913, Bernard, who went by the nicknames “Happy” and “Hap,” transferred to Christian Brothers College, while it was still a university, and he began to play football for a fifth season – because existed an eligibility technicality at the time to allow students five years of athletic eligibility. Bernard began the season at Christian Brothers College but soon transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia and did not participate in sports there.
During his time at the University of Missouri, St. Louis University’s former coach, John Bender, took a position at Washington State University and, being aware of Bernard through competition with Southeast Missouri, convinced Bernard to become the quarterback of the Washington State team for the 1914 season – with the inducement of assuring him a summer job with the Washington State Park Service. Bernard did transfer to Washington State and earned an athletic letter while there.
After the 1915 school year ended, Bernard became the athletic director of the St. Louis Athletic Club and then, in 1919, became Kirkwood’s new football coach. In several accounts, Bernard was described as being calm under pressure and possessed a special ability to motivate his players.
Due likely to fiscal constraints, Bernard was released from Kirkwood after the 1922-23 school year and he became director of physical education for the Cape Girardeau Public Schools. In 1927, he became a coach at the Junior College of Flat River, Missouri (now Mineral Area Community College) and he coached there until 1940, when he became physical director at Fort Hoots Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bernard worked there until his death on August 18, 1959. Bernard was survived only by his wife, Deleine Perrault Bernard and he was inducted into the Southeast Missouri State University Athletics Hall of Fame on December 9, 2011.