Rest in Peace – Duane “Thumper” Barton
After the initial publication I am adding to this post. I am saddened to report that my fraternity brother and member of the 1967 Beaver Giant Killer Team, Duane “Thumper” Barton, passed away at the age of 73 on May 14th from Alzheimers Disease.
Duane played fullback and his brother, Gary, later played quarterback for the Beavers. They were star multi-sport athletes at Baker High School and both graduated from OSU as did their younger brother, Ronnie. Duane was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program and flew for the Navy after commissioning and then had a career as a pilot for Alaska Airlines.
Gary and Duane, besides being great athletes, had wonderful voices and were key members of the SAE team that won or placed highly in the annual Inter-fraternity Council Sing for several years.
Gary stated that memorials for Duane can be made on behalf of the National Alzheimer’s Association.
Our newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Billy Main, was not only a football teammate, but both were enrolled in the aviation division of NROTC and got their private pilot licenses while in college.
Billy (Rabbit) wrote this this tribute to “Thumper” yesterday and it eloquently conveys why Duane was loved by his teammates.
Duane Barton was the back-up fullback to Bill Enyart in 1967 and 1968. He knew Buff well in that they were roommates when the team traveled.
He was physically very different: Enyart was 6’4, 235 Duane was 5’8 and 210. Duane came from Baker, Oregon and was one of the great players from eastern Oregon that were part of that GK team
He was nicknamed “Thumper” ‘…..the provenance of that nickname is unknown
Duane was the purest essence of the spirit and ethos of those teams…TEAM
He was a skilled and proficient runner and blocker, and had Buff gotten injured, we lost very little. Absent Bill Enyart, Duane was a solid replacement in the backfield. Under different circumstances, he would have probably had a more extensive football career. He was loved and respected by all of his teammates.
My real friendship with Thumper was grounded in the US Navy ROTC Flight Program in which we were both enrolled. As I remember, there were the only 3 members of the GK team roster in the Navy at that time. (Rus Jordan was the other.)
Duane and I learned to fly together at the Corvallis airport. We also were in the summer Navy summer camps in Los Angles and Pensacola. We were together on Aircraft Carriers that summer: the USS Randolph and the USS Lexington.
During that summer in Pensacola and when we had a few days leave, Thumper suggested we jump a freight train and see where it was going. He was always pushing to try something new. (I talked him out of it)
He was a skilled pilot and eventually flew on active duty, followed by a career with Alaska Airines. Thumper had an outrageous sense of humor and was constantly pinching your ass when you weren’t looking, then laughing like hell. RIP, Thumper
Gary Barton gave this account of how Duane got his nickname:
“The Thumper nickname came from the Disney movie Bambi. If you recall there was a cute little cottontail named Thumper living in Bambi’s forest. Among the burly football jocks at OSU, Duane was like their Thumper, both in size and perhaps even more so in personality. (However, he also gave one a memorable ‘thump’ when he hit you on the football field….)
Some readers might ask, “Why don’t you stick to the bar and brewery reviews on your blog and what’s this Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter?” The response – pretty easy. I have loved writing about the history, bartenders, regulars and distinguishing characteristics of each of the 375 watering holes I’ve visited and reviewed since starting Thebeerchaser in August, 2011.
The memories cheer me up during this lockdown and make me yearn for the safe reopening of these establishments. And all of them deserve and need our patronage and support. That said, another joy derived from this hobby is telling the story of some remarkable individuals or groups – most of whom I’ve known personally or met through this blog.
These former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, besides their memorable stories, have contributed to society through their heroism, athletic achievements, civic work, dedication to their careers or otherwise. All of them possess either a great sense of humor or noteworthy personal traits that have made them or would make them great Beerchasing companions.
The list also includes military veterans with exemplary service to their country like the late Col. Terry McKinsey (USMC Ret.), Viet Nam era heroes such as Doug Bomarito, Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely and my brother Capt. Rick Williams (USN Ret.).
Click on the links over the names to see the individual stories noted here or on the tab “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter” right below the blog header above.
2020’s Second Quarter “Honoree”
The newest BOQ has something in common with one of the former – Craig – The Dude – Hanneman. Both were Pac Eight Football stars for the Oregon State Beavers under legendary coach, Dee Andros.
The Dude achieved new heights in 2012, when he became the first former NFL or NBA player to successfully scale Mt. Everest.
Since in 1967, freshmen did not play on the varsity, Craig was on the Rook Team while Billy Main was a key figure in the renowned OSU Giant Killers team – one of the most fabled stories in the annals of NCAA Football history.
As an OSU sophomore, I had the thrill of seeing the Beavs beat an OJ Simpson – led USC Team 3 to 0 when the Trojans were rated No. 1 in the nation.
But that was only a small part of the overall narrative – notice the moniker is Killers rather than the singular.
The full story can be seen by either reading my blog post in which I paid tribute to that team’s achievements
Or you can read another former OSU alum and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, the aforementioned, Jud Blakely, who put together a wonderful website which would make any sports historian tip his or her hat.
The picture at the left is Blakely receiving his 1967 promotion to Captain and the Bronze Star for valor in Viet Nam from General Garretson, Deputy Commandant of USMC and on the right is Col. Bronars’, Jud’s CO during his first six months in Vietnam..
“Tucker William (Billy)”
Billy Main made his mark at Oregon State through his athletic achievements and his other activities. He also had a very successful career in the hospitality industry (which started as a “swamper” or night-time janitor at the Beaver Hut – a legendary watering hole for OSU students.) But how did he get to Corvallis from his roots outside San Francisco in Lafayette, California?
Billy was named after his Uncle Bill who played for the Cal Golden Bears and went to the 1948 Rose Bowl under College Hall of Fame Coach Pappy Waldorf. His dad also played football for Cal. Waldorf coached at Cal from 1947 through 1956.
The 1946 team of his predecessor went 2 and 7 and Waldorf’s first year, the Golden Bears compiled a 9 and 1 and lost only to USC. The next two years, his teams went to the Rose Bowl and although losing both times, the turnaround was remarkable.
He started the tradition of commenting on the game and complimenting the crowd for their support after every home game in the balcony over the northwest gate of the stadium. He continued this tradition through his last home game in 1956.
Billy was an excellent high school athlete playing basketball and football and for the first seventeen years of his life, there was no doubt in his mind that his college home and athletics would be at Berkeley.
“I played basketball like I did football,” Billy told me. “I was always the first guy to foul out, but they always had me guard the other team’s best player.”
His desire was to go to Cal when he graduated from Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek in 1965, and Jim “Truck” Cullom the Offensive Line Coach recruited him. Cullom had played football at Cal and remembered Billy’s dad and uncle.
However, the Cal Athletic Dept. advised him to go to junior college first because his grades didn’t meet the standard. (Actually, he met the criteria for an exception, but Cal. messed it up – something they undoubtedly bemoaned from 1967-69.) His dad told him to look at other college options, so he made a trip up to Pullman to check out Washington State.
Fortunately for the Oregon State Beavers:
“Main’s basketball coach, Doug Pederson was a friend of Oregon State Basketball Coach, Paul Valenti, that contact got the Beavers in the door.” (They both played basketball for OSU in 1942) (The Civil War Rivalry by Kerry Eggers. Page 237.)
Assistant Football Coach Sam Boghosian showed up at one of Billy’s basketball practices. “I saw this fierce looking guy looking at me practice from across the gym,” Billy said.
Dee Andros had been an Assistant Football Coach at Cal and started his tenure as Head Football Coach at Oregon State in 1965, where he became known as “The Great Pumpkin.” (He was 5’10 and weighed over 300 pounds.)
Boghosian came to the Main’s house to recruit him for the Beavers. Billy then took a Greyhound Bus up to Corvallis. “Wayne Valley, a tackle on the team showed me around campus and I really liked it.”
Another quote from Kerry Eggers, wonderful book The Civil War Rivalry demonstrates the respect and love Andros’ players had for their coach.
(Eggers, an OSU alum, was a columnist in Portland for 45-years, is the author of six books and a five-time winner of the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year Award. Any OSU or U of O fan should read this book!)
“‘I sat down with the Great Pumpkin, and it was one of those moments,’ recalled Main…..’We chatted about my pop who was on a destroyer in World War II.’ Dee said, ‘Billy we want you to come to Oregon State. I committed on the spot. The Pumpkin had a special gift. He inspired us in that it is difficult to define. It was magic.'” (Page 237)
Main was red-shirted for the 1966 season – with a November birthday, he was young and they wanted him to use the extra season to “bulk-up” and help the scout team scrimmage against the Varsity during practice. Billy also explained:
“I was a sophomore and was red-shirted because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon States greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.”
But the year of the Giant Killers in 1967 has to be the most memorable. Quarterback Steve Preece and Billy were fraternity brothers and best friends at the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) house, but the entire team was an extremely close knit group.
According to Preece, “Dee convinced us that we’d only win if we were a group playing as one…Everybody believed it.” (Eggers – The Civil War Rivalry – Page 195)
That team attitude was deeply ingrained and made a lifelong impression. In one of the last e-mails we exchanged for my research for this post.
“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward. I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”
Based on his extensive knowledge of the Giant Killer Team, I asked Jud Blakely to write a few paragraphs about Billy and the team.
Jud first met Main in 2003 when Blakely was considering writing a screen play on the Giant Killers and he used Billy as a resource. A long-time friendship developed which continues as evidenced by our trip to Corvallis in 2018.
“Okay, so, Bill Main…who entered this world listed as Tucker W. Main…and…you guessed it; the W. stands for “William. Then William made the predictable journey to being ‘Bill’ before it made the slightly less predictable journey to being “Billy”…and Billy Main is how Tucker’s vintage pals know him and address him.
By “vintage pals,” I mean legends in their own right such as Steve Preece, Jon Sandstrom, Mike Foote, Tom Greerty, Jess Lewis, Gary Houser, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Mayes, Mel Easley, and the Rest-In-Peace squad of Bill Enyart, Roger Cantlon, Donnie Summers, John Didion, etc. Thing is, though, they mostly called him “Rabbit”…and (mostly) they had nicknames, too…
…and so, Preece was “Fox”…Cantlon was “Deer”…Sandstrom was “Grape Eyes”…Bill Enyart was always “Buff” and never “Earthquake,” and on and on. This was the nature of OSU’s 1967 Giant-Killer football team that caught lightning in a bottle…the fabled and legendary squad on which Billy “Rabbit” Main electrified fans as a star wingback when he was but 18 years old.
Blakely continues about his friendship with Main:
“Bottom line—I’m blessed to be one of Billy Main’s 14 thousand-2 hundred (and 52) friends…
I’m estimating here because the count goes up every week. When it comes to friendship, Billy Main is, like, nearly the size of a South-Pacific atoll that morphed into a nation. The reason he’s so rich in friends? It’s as simple as hearing, ‘Hey, I’m thinkin’ about you. ‘How are you?'”
(Note: I asked my friend of fifty years, Blakely to write a short paragraph or two to use in the posts about Billy. You will see from this post and the next that’s comparable to asking him to read and summarize a magazine article resulting in him sending a synopsis of Winston Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War. What he wrote was eloquent and with feeling, but when I kidded him about the length, he responded, “Once I got going, I was too lazy to stop.”)
I was the beneficiary of friendship and living with eleven of the members of the team during the Giant Killer era in the SAE House at OSU. They included my 1970 classmates, defensive back starters, Larry Rich and Don Whitney.
Other SAE’s footballers during those years were Craig Hanneman, Jim Scheele, Chris Wahle, Clyde Smith, Don Welch, Jim Blackford, Roger Cantlon and Gary and Duane Barton. They were not only great athletes but outstanding individuals.
Billy’s solid family roots which were a key to his character can be demonstrated by this story on radio broadcasts while he played for OSU. He told me:
“They didn’t broadcast OSU games in Lafayette, so my Pop and mom drove up I-5 to Etna, California (near Weed) several times each season . Pops went into the radio station which didn’t carry the games either and asked the manager, ‘Where’s your tower?’ It was up in the Siskiyou Mountains near the Oregon/California border. They drove up high enough to get the KEX broadcast from Portland and had picnic lunches while they listened to the game.”
At 5′ 11″ and weighing 188 pounds when he was a freshman, Billy was not a big guy compared to his many, if not most of his teammates, but he had a reputation for being a fierce competitor. (“I was born in November so was always smaller than my teammates in school which helped shape my attitude.”)
In the Andros Power T Offense, he was a running back and wide receiver who was named to the Coaches’ Second Pac-8 Second Team. Notwithstanding his size, he was also a skilled blocking back for his fullback Buffalo Bill Enyart.
A true utility man, Main even was the holder for field goals and extra points for part of the 1968 season.
He became holder, when safety Larry Rich was converted to the kicker after the regular kicker, Mike Haggard was injured. Starting in the Washington game, this newly initiated duo went 5 for 5 in PAT’s in the Beaver victory.
Kerry Eggers relates an incident in his book during the 1968 Civil War game with Oregon to show Rabbit’s toughness. The Beavs won that home game 41 to 14 at Parker Stadium.
In the Civil War the year before at Autzen, the Giant Killers, who were nationally ranked, had to make a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Ducks who went into the game with a 2 and 8 record. Billy Main said of the ’68 game:
“‘We’d remembered what happened (in the Civil War) the year before when we had our heads up our ass and almost lost. Everybody was ready before the game. You could feel it….’
Oregon was poised to “take out” Preece on Oregon State’s patented option play. Preece had broken a shoulder the previous season, and opponents that year took shots at it. Early in the game, U of O defensive end, Dennis Gassner cold-cocked him. Main saw it.
“Billy told me, ‘Run that play again,'” Preece recalled. “I ran it again and Main goes flying by me and hits (Gassner) so hard I thought he was going to kill him. He’s standing over him screaming, ‘Don’t touch my quarterback again.” (Civil War Rivalry – Page 196)
Given the scenario above, one has to chuckle at Billy’s description of his demeanor in the continuing description of this incident in Kerry Eggers’s book:
“’We had a slight altercation,’ Main acknowledged. ‘I was uncharacteristically agitated – I was more of a lover than a fighter (emphasis supplied) – and Gassner was pushing because Fox (Preece) has the marginal shoulder.
It came close to shoving with lots of mouth. I was ready for a dust-up. But we were seriously restricted by the Pumpkin’s code of behavior – no fighting, just do your job.”
So Beerchaser followers, you have the first part of the Tucker W. Main story. Stay tuned for the next post and the story of Rabbit’s naval service, return to Corvallis and subsequent career and family life. You can see it at:
Giant Killer Duane Barton