Sept. 28, 1997
The 1997 inductees into the Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor were introduced at halftime of the Wittenberg-Kenyon football game. They are Judith Burgner Samuelson '56, daughter of the late Dr. Earl Burgner; Bob Foster '78; Pete Lizza '48 and John Tafaro '76.
Four former student-athletes were inducted into Wittenberg University's Athletics Hall of Honor over Homecoming Weekend, Sept. 26-27.
The new inductees were the late Dr. Earl "Puss" Burgner '22; Robert Foster '78; Pete Lizza '48, and John Tafaro '76. A public reception and dinner was held at Friday, Sept. 26 in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center and the inductees were introduced at halftime of the Kenyon-Wittenberg football game.
Dr. Earl W. Burgner, '22
Dr. Earl Burgner was an outstanding leader and quarterback, playing on three undefeated teams in his years at Wittenberg.
"Puss" as he was normally referred to, served as a team captain his senior season, playing 60 minutes of every game. He was twice an All-Ohio Conference selection and was named All-Ohio quarterback in 1919 while at Wittenberg, where he also played basketball and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity.
Burgner, an Akron, Ohio native and graduate of South High School, later began coaching and teaching at nearby Xenia High School. He also played professionally for the Dayton Triangles.
Burgner was inducted into the Summit County Hall of Fame in 1968. In 1966, he received the Alumni Citation as one who "brought honor to Wittenberg by continuing dedication to the ideals for which the University stands."
Burgner graduated from Marquette Medical School in 1933 and served his community as a general practitioner for almost 40 years. He served in World War II attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel and was commanding officer of various Air Force Evacuation Hospitals.
Burgner died January 11, 1970.
Burgner's grandson, David Samuelson, will present his grandfather for induction.
Bob Foster, '78
Bob Foster earned numerous football awards in his career at Wittenberg.
A native of Amanda, Ohio this small-town farm boy left a lasting impression on the football field.
Foster, a linebacker, was named to three All-America teams during his career. In 1975 he was second team Little All-America, first team Lutheran All-America, and first team American Football Coaches Association. In 1977 he repeated as a second team AP Little All-America pick and won the Hank Critchfield Award as the Ohio Conferences best defensive player. Not coincidentally, Wittenberg won the NCAA Division III Championship in 1975.
In his senior season, Foster was credited with 71 tackles, 40 assists, and two interceptions while playing in all ten games.
Foster is also remembered for being named the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Game for his performance in the televised win over Baldwin-Wallace in 1977.
Foster is now financial services officer for Farm Credit Services in Newark, Ohio. He resides in Granville with his wife, Judy, and their two children, Matthew and Jenna.
He was presented for induction by Tal Gilbus.
Peter Lizza, '48
Pete Lizza is one of the great Tiger athletes of the 1940s whose career was interrupted by military service in World War II.
He played football, basketball, and baseball and excelled in all three. He left Wittenberg in 1942 and returned in 1946 to complete his education. In fact, he was playing in a Wittenberg football uniform at age 29.
A lifetime resident of Springfield and Catholic Central graduate, Lizza served for years as superintendent of distribution of the Springfield Water Department, retiring in 1978.
While a student at Wittenberg, Lizza was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
He was presented for induction by Roger Rossi, a member of the 1940 championship team.
John Tafaro, '76
John Tafaro, a native of Maplewood, New Jersey, played a major role in the success of the Tiger golf program in the 1970s. In 1976, the Tigers finished 9th in a 21-team NCAA Division III championship field thanks to the help of Tafaro's swing.
Tafaro served as a team captain in his senior season and was selected on the All-Ohio Conference team for three seasons. In his senior season at Wittenberg, Tafaro averaged 79.42 strokes per round.
Tafaro was also a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity while attending Wittenberg. Following graduation Tafaro earned a master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University and a law degree from Northern Kentucky University.
Tafaro, former president of Riverfront Coliseum, resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been involved in major activities such as the 1987 World Figure Skating Championships and the 1997 NCAA Womens Final Four. He has one daughter Marisa, 16.
He was presented for induction by his golf coach at Wittenberg, Bob Rosencrans.