We lost another one. A great one. One of the original Antlers owners. He liked to tell the story about walking through the building (the original building) when it was a concrete shell. Must’ve been 1971. Colonel Don Wiethuechter (pronounced Wee-Tuke-Ter) was known to us as just Col. Don. He was as supportive an owner as there ever was. He came to every annual owners meeting as well as one or two other times a year, and always offered encouragement and appreciation. Sure, on occasion he may have tied me up on the phone for a few minutes too long (hours, maybe?), but what I wouldn’t give right now to hear that voice say, “Hello Mr. Manager … How are you doing today?”
Col. Don and Bud Benedict were great chums and I remember when Bud retired, me being a little worried about that element of the transition. My worries were unfounded … Col. Don had my back just as much as he ever had Bud’s … and as much as any other owner ever has.
I always claim that the Antlers Heart and Soul is what sets us apart from our competition. It’s unquestionably what has kept me here (and happy) for 36 years. Well, if ever there was a symbol of our heart and soul, it was Col. Don. We’ve had some great owner/cheerleaders over the years, but Col. Don was there with the best of them. I think we only took second place to his beloved Huskies at the University of Washington, and maybe his employer of 30+ years, the U.S. Army.
He would frequently travel with the Washington football team to away games and I think even received some sort of super-booster honor at mid-field one time. I remember when Rick Neuheisel got the coaching job at UW, after getting canned from CU. Things didn’t go so well for Rick at Udub either and we had a great time ribbing Col. Don for years afterward about our hand-me-down. Despite his propensity to bleed purple (as they say), he always took it well.
I think we only have five or six of the original owners left now, although there are happily another six or eight that have been handed down in their families. It’s such a bummer to see the number dwindle, but Col. Don will always be a permanent part of Antlers lore.