Kansas Basketball Great Howard Engleman Dies

Jan. 13, 2011

Engelman Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Former University of Kansas men’s basketball great Howard “Rope” Engleman died Wednesday in his hometown of Salina.

A letterwinner at Kansas from 1939-41, Engleman earned consensus first-team All-America honors in 1941. He was named to the 1940 NCAA Final Four all-tournament team after leading the Jayhawks to the championship game in Kansas’ first appearance in the tournament.

The six-foot Engleman also helped lead the Jayhawks to Big Six Conference championships in 1940 and 1941.

Following graduation, Engleman fought in the Navy in World War II. After returning from the war, he replaced Phog Allen as Kansas coach for half of the 1946-47 season after Allen was ordered to bed rest. The Jayhawks finished with a 16-11 record in 1946-47, 8-6 under Engleman.

Born in Arkansas City, Kan., Engleman’s No. 5 jersey was retired in a ceremony in Allen Fieldhouse on March 1, 2003. His blond, curly locks of hair earned him the nickname “Rope.”

Known for his sense of humor, Engleman served as a lawyer in Salina after earning his law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.

A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Salina. His body will be cremated.

Engleman bio submitted by daughter Mary Engleman Kemmer of Wichita, Kansas.

Howard George Engleman was born November 20, 1919, in Elmer, Missouri. The family moved to Arkansas City, Kansas, in 1920 following the death of his father in the great influenza pandemic. Howard graduated from Arkansas City High School, which he led to the state basketball finals in 1937.

He attended the University of Kansas, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, president of the All-Student Council, and star of both the KU men’s tennis and basketball teams. Known as “Rope” for his blonde wavy hair, Howard was a consensus All-American for KU in 1940-41 and the nation’s leading scorer his senior year. Howard also coached the KU varsity team in 1947 after Phog Allen sustained a concussion. Howard married his college sweetheart, Mary Beth Dodge of Salina, on December 21, 1941, and they lived in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he worked for Phillips Petroleum and played for the Phillips “66 ers”.

He enlisted in the Navy and was commissioned and assigned to the destroyer USS England, upon which he served as navigation officer. The England was credited with sinking six Japanese submarines in the South Pacific, the most of any destroyer in the war, before being sunk by a kamikaze suicide plane. Howard was badly injured, hospitalized, and received the Purple Heart. He was released from the Navy to attend law school under the G.I. Bill of Rights, and while at KU Law School coached the KU freshman basketball team and was honored to be selected to lay the cornerstone for the KU Memorial Campanile.

Upon graduation, he and Mary Beth moved to her hometown of Salina, where he was a partner in the law firm of Litowich, Royce, and Hampton for 40 years, retiring in 1988. Howard took up golf after moving to Salina, was a perennial golf champion at the Salina Country Club and a daily figure on the course. He was a great supporter of youth athletics and touched the lives of many young golfers and basketball players in Salina. Howard belonged to the First United Methodist Church and was a member of many Masonic bodies, including a 33 degree Mason. He was inducted into the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, and honored in 2003 when his KU #5 jersey was officially retired and raised to the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse. His classic speech from center court at the ceremony and an overview of his basketball career may be viewed at http://www.kuathletics.com/allaccess/index.html?media=221585.

His finest achievement was being such a great husband, father, and grandfather who was always there for us and will always be in our hearts. Howard is survived by his wife of 69 years Mary Beth Dodge Engleman of Salina, brother Kenneth Engleman of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and three children: Dr. Dodge Engleman (Lorna) of San Antonio, Texas, Ann Engleman North (Richard) of Bedminster, New Jersey, and Mary Engleman Kemmer (Andy) of Wichita, Kansas. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Dodge Kemmer of Stanford, California, Callie Kemmer a junior at Yale University, and Riley Engleman Kemmer, a sophomore at Wichita Collegiate School.

Memorials may be made the First United Methodist Church, the University of Kansas Williams Fund, the Wally Beets and John Marino Scholarship Fund, and the Kay Pogue Hospice of Salina.