Rudy Gaddini spent 11 seasons as the head football coach at Milton College.
Yes, some of you out there might not realize there was Milton College.
Now an owner of his own insurance agency in Milton, Gaddini recounted a recent day when a stranger walked into his agency.
“He said he wanted to take a $500,000 life insurance policy on his wife,” Gaddini said.
The stranger then hinted to Gaddini that he would make sure that he would collect on the policy.
“I got scared,” the 85-year-old Gaddini said. “I was alone in the office. I watch the ‘Investigation Discovery.’ It scared the hell out of me.”
Then the stranger laughed and called Gaddini “Coach.”
It was a former player who is a retired police officer.
“It’s been 25 to 30 years since I’ve seen some of these guys,” Gaddini said.
That scene—although in all likelihood much tamer—will be repeated Saturday when a gathering of former Milton College athletes and coaches will take place on the former Milton campus.
In the year of the former school’s 175th anniversary, the Milton College Preservation Society has invited back several players and coaches who were at the school when it shut its doors in 1982.
The MCPS holds a homecoming alumni gathering each year, but Saturday is going to be fully covered in brown and blue—the Wildcats’ team colors.
“We ordinarily get about 70 to 80 people to attend recent homecoming events,” MCPS president Doug Welch said.
“We believe this may be the largest gathering of Milton College alumni in more than 25 years.”
Welch has been MCPS president for the past five years.
The Milton native did not attend Milton College, but he worked at the Milton Courier for 21 years, mainly as the paper’s managing editor, which made him a logical choice to preside over the society.
Milton College closed due to debt, which reportedly was $4 million.
During its existence, it produced many area leaders both in the community and in sports.
Notre Dame had its “Rudy,” but so did Milton College.
Gaddini still has a personality as big as Main Hall.
When Gaddini was at a football camp in 1970, he met a young coach from Oconto, Jerry Schliem. He talked Schliem into joining him as a Wildcats assistant, and Schliem later become the Milton High School head football coach.
He led the then Redmen to a state football championship in both 1986 and 1989.
Ted Scallisi also entered the area to be a Milton College assistant. The former pro basketball and football player later joined Bob Luchsinger Jr. to form one of the best known basketball officiating crews in the state.
Lawrence Dickhoff and Stu Shadel were both three-sport athletes at Milton College in the 1930s. Dickhoff became the first mayor of Milton after the villages of Milton and Milton Junction combined in 1967.
Shadel became a successful area business man who joined Janesville’s Jim Fitzgerald and other investors to buy the Milwaukee Bucks. Shadel then was the major factor in getting the Bucks to hold their training camp on the Milton College campus in 1968 and 1969.
Jack Gregory, who was the long-time football coach at Edgerton High, played on the undefeated 1956 Milton College football team.
The list goes on.
Milton College has been nailed shut since 1982, but on Saturday the memories of Wildcats athletes and coaches will be floating through the air one more time.
And Gaddini will be on to everyone there.
Tom Miller is a sports writer and page designer for The Gazette. Reach him at email@example.com.