West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

Bob Mendenhall - THE MAN

Outstanding wrestler and all-around athlete, patriot, family-oriented, benefactor, business and community leader, and man of true character - all the above describe one individual I have had the privilege to know for decades: Robert "Bob" Mendenhall.

I first met Bob Mendenhall in the 1970s, and we immediately became friends. Not only did Bob and I have one love in common - wrestling, but he reminded me so much of my late father, William Howard Welker. Had they known each other, they surely would have been great friends.

Let's now take a look at this man's incredible life.

The Athlete

Bob Mendenhall, Parkersburg High School graduate, played football in the early '40s for Floyd "Ben" Swartzwalder, who later became the legendary Hall of Fame gridiron coach for Syracuse University. But it was on the mats that he excelled.

Under the tutelage of another PHS legend, Jim Scott, Bob Mendenhall was undefeated his senior year, capping his scholastic wrestling career with two state championship titles.

After WWII, Mendenhall attended WVU on a wrestling scholarship. He wrestled under A.C. "Whitey" Gwynne for one year. The next three years Mendenhall was under the mentorship of National Wrestling Hall of Famer Steve Harrick.

Bob Mendenhall finished his freshman, sophomore, and senior years undefeated for the "Mountaineers," and qualified for nationals which was held at Cedar Rapids, Iowa his senior season. In 1994, Mendenhall was inducted into the West Virginia University Wrestling Hall of Fame. What a career on the mats!

The Patriot

After graduating from high school, Bob Mendenhall volunteered for the U.S. Navy, spending three and a half years serving his country in WWII. During that time, Mendenhall's involvement in the conflict was second to none. As a sonar operator, he was part of the flotilla that captured the famous German submarine, U-505. Furthermore, he stood next to Benito Mussolini right after he was hung in an Italian village square.

For his bravery, Mendenhall was awarded the American, European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbons. He also earned the Victory Medal and the Bronze Star. In 2001, Mendenhall was presented the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty by Congressman Alan Mollohan for his participation in the Normandy Invasion.

The Wrestling Contributor

As an outstanding official, Bob Mendenhall refereed the West Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament from 1951 to 1953, along side his college mentor Whitey Gwynne.

In 1970, Mendenhall was instrumental in jump starting Linsly Military Institute (now Linsly School) wrestling program. Not only did he give guidance in the hiring of a wrestling coach, but Mendenhall also purchased their mat and worked out with all the kids, including his two sons George and Bobby, who were both outstanding OVAC wrestlers. His efforts paid off in 1973 with Linsly's highest showing in the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament, finishing in seventh place.

Bob Mendenhall was also a wrestling visionary. He assisted in sponsoring and running the first freestyle tournaments and foreign exchange competitions in the Ohio Valley in the 1970s.

Most recently, Mendenhall was one of the key benefactors in re-initiating the wrestling program at Bridgeport (WV) High School in 2004. He has also been a contributor to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame - West Virginia Chapter.

In essence, Bob Mendenhall has never stopped supporting the sport that played an important role in his life - wrestling.

Bob Mendenhall

The Business and Community Leader

Bob Mendenhall has been the president and CEO of W.Va.-Ohio Motor Sales, Inc. for 53 years. In fact, it is the oldest Mack Truck dealership in West Virginia. Bob Mendenhall and his son, Thomas, started the Clarksburg Mack Truck Sales and Service Company in 1984.

For his efforts as an astute businessman, Bob Mendenhall was elected to the Mack Truck National Advisory Council. He has also served on the board of directors of the Half Dollar Bank and then the United Bank for over 40 years.

A member of the St. John's Episcopal Church, Mendenhall has also been involved with the Parkersburg Masonic Lodge 169 and the Wheeling Elks Lodge.

His leadership on the community front is nonpareil. Whenever anyone has asked his assistance, it was done without anyone knowing of his benevolence.

The Mendenhall Family

Bob Mendenhall has been married to his devoted wife, the former Sue Ann Thieroff, for over a half century. During that time, they have raised four wonderful children.
Sandy - She is now Mrs. Rob Brunswick of Bridgeport, WV. They have four children: Andie, Robbie, Will, and Tommie.
George - He resides in Pittsburgh with his lovely wife, the former Kathy Dellapina. They have four children: Mackenzie, George, Robert, Emily.
Bobby - He now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
And finally, Thomas - He resides in Wheeling with his charming wife, the former Cheryl Bartsch. They have three children: Bobby, Eric, and Lee.

Thus, Bob and Sue Ann Mendenhall are the proud grandparents of eleven beautiful grandkids.

There is an inside family joke I must share with my readers. Bob's son, Thomas, opted to play basketball during his athletic days. Although Bob Mendenhall has forgiven him, he has kept Tom under his wing ever since to straighten him out and guide him in the right direction - wrestling!

In closing, I must admit that this column was a joy to write. Bob Mendenhall's lifetime of personal integrity has been an inspiration to all those he has touched over the years, including yours truly.

The wrestling community salutes Robert "Bob" Mendenhall for his dedicated involvement with the mat sport for over 50 years. When it comes to promoting wrestling in the Ohio Valley and the state, Bob Mendenhall is "The Man."

The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with over 16,400 sold nationwide, and/or his DVD: Bill Welker's Pancake Takedown Series, would be great Christmas gifts for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of The Wrestling Drill Book or the DVD, the cost for each is $25.00. A "SPECIAL" price of $40.00 is offered for both. Just send a check or money order for $25.00 for one or $40.00 for both (shipping and handling is included) made payable to:
Bill Welker
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
Phone: (304) 218-

Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want Bill Welker to write, with his autograph. He will accept requests until December 22, for The Wrestling Drill Book and/or DVD to arrive in your hands before Christmas!

Mat Message

"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy."
- Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf


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