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Minnesota Chapter — National Wrestling Hall of Fame inducts Dick Maher

By Staff | Apr 25, 2011

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored six individuals at the Minnesota Chapter banquet in Austin, on Saturday, April 16.

Among the 2011 Hall of Fame inductees is the late Richard “Dick” Maher, Blue Earth.

Maher, Noel Bailey, Doug Dahl, Bill Sutter and Jeff Swenson were the 2011 Lifetime Service Honorees, while Mike Good was the 2011 Outstanding American inductee.

Dick Maher gave 28 years to the sport of wrestling as a coach and official.

Maher started his coaching career at Harmony. His last 15 years of coaching at Blue Earth were highly successful. Coach Maher’s teams earned six conference, 12 district, and four region titles. His 1974 team finished third in the one-class Minnesota State Tournament.

Maher directed several tournaments as the principal and athletic director at Blue Earth.

In recent years he had been the wrestling color commentator on KBEW radio.

Accepting the award was Maher’s widow, Shirl.

“It was a bittersweet night,” Shirl Maher says. “It would have been nice if Dick could have been here, but that is the way things happen.”

Shirl Maher says her husband was up for the award last year, but was not selected until this year.

Jack Eustice, Blue Earth Area High School principal and former wrestling coach, gave the acceptance speech.

“I just knew I wouldn’t be able to get through it,” Shirl says. “And none of my boys wanted to do it. Jack graciously said he would do it.”

Eustice says it was his honor and privilege to give the speech.

“This is a big deal,” Eustice says. “This is a big, big national award, and quite an honor for Dick and the Maher family. He well deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.”

More than 300 people were in attendance at the banquet in Austin, including many friends of Dick Maher from Blue Earth.

Plus, all of Dick’s family was able to attend.

“Even my son David was able to get here from Stafford, Va.,” Shirl Maher says. “He couldn’t stay in Minnesota long but he wanted to be here for the ceremony.”

Other members of the Maher family at the banquet and ceremony were: John and Teresa Maher, Austin; Michele Ritter, Blue Earth, and children Joe and Justin; Mark and Lori Maher, Blue Earth, and daughter Amber Lyon.

“Justin was pretty proud,” Shirl says. “He was wearing his grandpa’s shirt and tie in his honor.”

Shirl was wearing the green jacket that was presented to each of the inductees.

There was a table of momentos of each honoree’s career, complete with a large photo of the person.

“It was hard for me to look at it,” Shirl admits. “I have it here at home now, but I haven’t been able to put it up.

Dick Maher passed away in May of 2010, less than a year ago.

This was not Dick Maher’s first recognition for his devotion to the sport of wrestling and athletics.

He was voted into the Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame, selected as Minnesota Athletic Director of the Year, received the Athletic Director Award of Merit and was nominated for the National Athletic Directors Distinguished Service Award, and was inducted into the Minnesota Athletic Directors Hall of Fame in 2002.

Maher was also very active in the Blue Earth community. He served on the City Council, police commission, and Knights of Columbus. He also served on the library board and chairman of his church council.

At the Hall of Fame ceremony the following statement was made:

“Dick Maher was a man who dedicated his life to the education of young people and to his community. He helped pave the way for many to prosper. His efforts as a tireless worker and servant for many people – young and old – will be long remembered in his community and across the State of Minnesota.