Sunday, 26 July 2020 12:06

Former Richmond football coaches remember Dr. Bill as ‘one of a kind’

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Dr. Bill Haltiwanger pulls his "Welcome Wagon," a staple at Richmond football games. Dr. Bill Haltiwanger pulls his "Welcome Wagon," a staple at Richmond football games. Contributed photo by the Haltiwanger family.


ROCKINGHAM — There have been some pretty honorable names to hold the title as the head football coach at Richmond Senior High School. 

Five-time state championship-winning coach Daryl Barnes. Head coach and later the school’s athletic director Hal Shuler. And one can’t forget Paul Hoggard, whose 17-year tenure saw him help the Raiders to a state title in 1998 as an assistant, and again in 2008, this time as the head coach.

Just to name a few.

But behind all three coaches’ success on the football field, the state championship banners, the culture that was and is Raider football — there was always Dr. Bill Haltiwanger.

In part two of this three-part ROSports special feature on the late Richmond County-based orthodontist, the Richmond Observer spoke with Barnes, Hoggard and Shuler about the impact Dr. Bill had on the Richmond athletics community, as well as his influence on them as coaches.

Daryl Barnes: Dr. Bill was “the finest person in Richmond County”

The head coach responsible for bringing in five of Richmond’s seven 4AA state titles, Barnes had two stints at the head of the Raiders’ program for a total of eight seasons. 

He coached from 1987 through 1990, picking up titles in 1988, 1989 and 1990, and later returned from 1997 through 2000, adding state rings in 1997 and 1998.

Barnes remembers Dr. Bill was one of the first people he met when he moved to Richmond County in the late 80s, although their first interaction was through a written letter.

“The first time I came to Richmond County, I remember Dr. Bill sent me a letter,” Barnes recalled. “We didn’t know each other, but he said in the letter that if there was anything my family needed, to let him know.

“He even offered to let us stay in his house, which is pretty unusual for someone you’ve never met,” he continued. “The fact that he even made the offer speaks volumes of him as a man.”

As Barnes built the Raiders into a perennial powerhouse program, Dr. Bill was also along for the ride as a fan and supporter. Barnes noted that Dr. Bill was a big advocate for supporting the football program in many ways, saying he did “a lot of financial things to assist our kids and program that a lot of people didn’t know about.”

When it came time for Barnes’ two kids to get braces, the former coach remembered Dr. Bill wouldn’t let him pay for them.

Of Dr. Bill, Barnes said he admired how the orthodontist wanted “no notoriety or fame” for helping out in the community. Whether it was at his office, with the Richmond athletic program, or through other avenues in town, Dr. Bill wanted to be a helping hand and nothing more.

“There are a lot of fine people in Richmond County, but at the top of that list is Dr. Bill. There are no others quite like him,” Barnes said. “He represented what is good about Richmond County, and he loved our athletes. 

“To him, it wasn’t about winning — he just wanted the kids to be treated how they should be,” he added. “Dr. Bill wanted Richmond County to be well-thought of by people, and he helped do that in a time when we were losing industry and the race track.

“He was the finest person in Richmond county, and that man was really special.”

A hat given to Dr. Bill, signed by members of one Richmond Raider football team, still sits in his office in Rockingham.

Hal Shuler: Dr. Bill was “one of a kind”

Dr. Hal Shuler, who is the associate vice president of development at Richmond Community College, was a longtime friend of Dr. Bill. Shuler coached the Raider football team from 1991 through 1996, and recorded a 56-16 all-time record along with five trips to the playoffs.

He also served as the school’s athletic director from 2003 through 2008, and he currently holds the role of an assistant head coach under head coach Bryan Till.

Shuler met Dr. Bill in 1988, and recalled that Dr. Bill was one of the first people introduced to him as a Raider football booster. He said that even over three decades ago, people around the community knew Dr. Bill as a “the best guy in the county, which has remained true all these years.”

One thing Dr. Bill did for Richmond’s head football coaches over the decades was give them a “lucky penny” at the end of each season. A tradition that started with Barnes’ first tenure, Dr. Bill took a penny and placed it on a polished stone that he took with him to every football game for good luck.

“Dr. Bill would find a penny over the summer,” Shuler explained. “And for every win that season he would put a notch in the side of it, and a hole in the middle for every loss. Every Friday before a game, he’d find me or the other head coaches and have us rub it for good luck.

“That was a neat behind-the-scenes thing he did for the coaches, starting with Coach Barnes (1988) all the way through Coach Hoggard (2014),” he continued. “Dr. Bill always joked and said the penny needed more notches and no more holes.”

Friday nights also meant the “Welcome Wagon,” another way Dr. Bill’s impact reached visitors of Raider football games. 

“My daddy started the Welcome Wagon the first couple years after Richmond opened,” Cindy Haltiwanger Watkins, Dr. Bill’s daughter, said. “Mama (Marion Haltiwanger) would help him make hot chocolate and on Friday afternoons they would buy and cut fruit.

“He wanted the visiting cheerleaders and fans to feel welcomed into our county,” she added. “It was so important to him.”

Coach Shuler added that he remembered Dr. Bill wanted to give the visiting sidelines a taste of Richmond’s hospitality, and the Welcome Wagon was a way to do that.

Shuler also remembered his friend’s selflessness when it came to giving back to the community and the Richmond athletics program. Dr. Bill held booster club meetings at his orthodontics office, and made sure the wrestling team had fresh mats, the basketball teams had new nets and every program got what it deserved.

“The biggest thing about Dr. Bill was he was willing to do whatever was asked of him, but wanted to do it behind the scenes,” Shuler said. “He didn’t want any accolades or his name out there — he just wanted to help.

“He couldn’t find any enemies and everybody loved the guy,” he added. “We all miss him because they don’t make people like Dr. Bill. — he was one of a kind.”

Another piece of memorabilia, signed by one of Coach Hoggard’s teams.

Paul Hoggard: Dr. Bill was “at the top of the list”

As the longest single-tenured head coach in Richmond’s 47-year history, Hoggard spent 17 years with the Raiders. He arrived in 1998 and served as the offensive coordinator under Barnes during the 1998 state title run, and took over the head coach position in 2007.

Hoggard won Richmond’s most recent state championship in 2008, and stayed on as head coach through the 2014 season.

He remembers the lucky pennies and the Welcome Wagon and said those gestures of kindness emulated the type of man Dr. Bill was.

“Dr. Bill was one of the finest human beings that I have ever met. He was definitely at the top of the list,” Hoggard said. “He was a very humble and kind person, and the things he did for our program and our community exemplified that.

“I know he genuinely cared about me as a coach and a person,” he continued. “It wasn’t about how many games you won, it was about connecting with our players, coaches and the community.”

Hoggard received the final lucky penny Dr. Bill gave out following the 2012 season, a year that saw the Raiders go 11-2 and make a third-round appearance in the 4AA state playoffs. He still has that penny with its 11 notches, placed upon a plaque.

“Dr. Bill could always be found in the stands rooting us on,” Hoggard said. “He was the ultimate Raiders fan, no matter the sport.”

Naturally because of his line of work, Dr. Bill donated his time and skills to create customized mouthpieces for football players who held speaking roles on the field (quarterbacks and defensive captains). 

The third and final installment of this series will feature Dr. Bill’s work with the mouthpieces and his lasting impact on Richmond athletics today, nearly two years after his death. 

For part one of this series, which features stories from Dr. Bill's children, click here.

The Richmond Observer thanks the Haltiwanger family, as well as Daryl Barnes, Paul Hoggard and Hal Shuler for their contributions.

Last modified on Sunday, 26 July 2020 12:13

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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