With the final notes of Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Stars Fell on Alabama” playing in the background, William Francis Lee (Bill) Apel died on December 9, 2019 at the SOMC Hospice Center. Bill was born on October 4, 1930, in Portsmouth, and was the last surviving child of the late Otto F. Apel Sr. and Claudia McCurdy Apel. His siblings were Clare Claudia Grossman, Otto F. Apel Jr., and David Wayne Apel. Bill graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1948, attended Ohio State University, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University where he excelled in both football and baseball. Bill also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, but was stationed in the stables at the Palace of Versailles, France, as a military policeman.
When returning state side, Bill married his sweetheart and wife of 57 years, the late Betty Lu Russell Apel, and completed his education and athletic career as a player at Ohio Wesleyan University. Upon graduation, Bill was drafted to play football by the Philadelphia Eagles, but chose to continue his athletic career as a coach and mentor to hundreds of high school athletes. Bill taught and coached football at Notre Dame High School, Portsmouth High School, Northwest High School, and New Boston High School. Bill retired from Northwest High School as a special education teacher in 1997.
Bill’s affection and dedication to his family, students, and players was foremost. He was a great influence on those whose lives he touched, not the least of which being his daughters, Molly (Marty) Glockner, Maggie (Rusty) Miller, his grandchildren, Martin Joseph (JR) Glockner, Jr., Anne Margaret (Annie) Glockner, and Mollie Alaine (Ali) Miller, his nieces and nephews, and the many players he coached. He bestowed upon us a strong work ethic, self-confidence, self-image, and self-worth, even when things may not have been going as well as he hoped. His daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and many of his players and equipment managers have undoubtedly heard one of his favorite sayings, “If you never made a mistake, you are a person who is doing nothing.” Bill was honored as a coach at Notre Dame High School, and most recently by Northwest High School and “Apel’s Army,” the players of Northwest’s 1973 football team. But most of all, Bill was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Bill has left his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and players to embrace his memory and hold it dear for years to come. A Celebration of Life service will be held on Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth, Ohio, with refreshments provided afterwards.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer's Research Fund in Neurology | Fund Number: 312531, Ohio State University, The Office of Medical Center Development, 660 Ackerman Road, P.O. Box 183112, Columbus, OH 43218-3112, or to SOMC Hospice, 2201-25th St., Portsmouth, OH 45662.
Bill’s family would like to thank the staffs of Riverbend House and SOMC Hospice for their years of kind love and support.