The Wolverine

September 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Michigan connections whatsoever. That changed quickly, and perma- nently. The two graduated from the Uni- W hen Milton Hoefle and his wife, Ann, moved to Ann Arbor in 1958, they claimed no University of Chemist Found Just The Right Mix In The Big House ADOPTED "M" FAN BY JOHN BORTON versity of Illinois, and Milton Hoefle eventually earned a doctoral degree in organic chemistry at the Univer- sity of Minnesota. His job as a lead chemist for Parke-Davis brought the couple into Michigan territory. "We moved out to Ann Arbor, and we had five children," Hoefle re- called. "The first day they came home from school, they were singing 'The Victors.' That sort of shows you what happens here — Michigan wears you down. You give up after a while, and you join them." The 90-year-old Hoefle laughed heartily at that observation. He's ex- perienced untold changes over the years around Michigan football and basketball, and doesn't mind doing some of the telling. Life around Michigan Stadium Milton Hoefle (fourth from right), Ann Hoefle (front row, with both hands on the sign) and friends celebrated after U-M's victory in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1998. PHOTO COURTESY MILTON HOEFLE certainly wasn't then what it is now, he cautioned, even though he loved Band Day and deeply appreciated then-marching band director Dr. Wil- liam D. Revelli. Not only did the Wol- verines win just one Big Ten cham- pionship in football in the decade following the couple's arrival, logis- tics around a game day in Ann Arbor revealed a more relaxed scramble for seats. "When we first came out here, the Boy Scouts were all present and do- ing the seating," Hoefle recalled. "Af- ter the first quarter, anyone could get in free — just walk into the game." That all began to change shortly af- comer. Michigan's historic 1969 up- set over the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes and Schembechler's mentor, Woody Hayes, served to confirm the new era. "When Bo came here, a lot of the people who had been closely associ- ated with the program were saying there were too many injuries, he was too rough on the boys, and he swears a lot," Hoefle recalled. "There was an undertone … but after beating Ohio State, that went away pretty swiftly." So did the days of breezing into the ter Bo Schembechler arrived in town, the retired chemist noted. Along with Schembechler came winning Big Ten championships, and eventually crowds of 100,000-plus every game. Hoefle insists he saw the right stadium at no cost after the first 15 minutes. Michigan football became even more of a happening, one the Hoefles took in roughly twice a year. They'd become close with former baseball coach Ray Fisher — their next-door neighbor — and sat with his wife, Nana, under the U-M press box. When Milton Hoefle eventually chemistry between the new coach bearing the difficult surname and the Wolverines, even if others won- dered aloud about the fiery new- 68 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2012 retired in 1986 — freeing him from significant demands as the pharma- ceutical interest's chemistry lead for a project on statins and director of Parke-Davis' atherosclerosis section — his attendance increased. He and his wife purchased season tickets at Michigan Stadium. Like everyone who has held seats on a long-term basis, he recites his location like a man giving his date of birth: "Section 20, row 16, seats 11 and 12." The couple sat on the 15-yard line, on the west side of the stadium. He recalls standing for most of the game, before they lowered the playing field, so he could see the action over the coaches and players standing on the sideline. Before long, the Hoefles found themselves standing with friends. That's where his interaction with Michigan athletics took on an even deeper meaning. Over the years, any number of Michigan fans can spin similar sto- ries. They'd sit near a group, or tail- gate near a group, and as one season rolled into the next, develop close friendships with their neighbors. That's exactly what happened with a crew that took on the odd designa- tion of "The Garfinkles" as the years went by. "We were just thrown together by chance," Hoefle noted. "One couple came from Allen Park. A couple of single ladies came from out in War- ren, near Detroit. Another couple was right here in Ann Arbor."

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