He was known as “Little Joe” at Stivers and in college sports for he was only about 5’7″ tall. However, what he lacked in physical stature was overcome by his athleticism, conditioning and competitive nature.
Joe was a two sport star at Stivers in the mid 1940’s. His best sport was basketball, but he also excelled on the diamond. In 1946, the Tigers led by Gene “Whiff” Brown and Joe won the City of Dayton basketball title. Joe was the second leading scorer on the team and fifth in the city league. He was named to the All City second team.
For the Stivers baseball team, Joe was their regular third baseman and number two pitcher. In one game, Joe struck out 12 in a complete game 3-2 loss to Springfield.
After graduating from Stivers, Joe served two years in the U.S. Navy. He then decided to continue his education and sports at Boise Junior College in Idaho. For two years he was one of the Bronco’s leading scorers and was named to the All-Conference First Team. In a game against a strong Tyler, Texas team Joe led his Bronco’s to victory with 25 points.
From Boise, “Little Joe” went on to play two years for the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane, Washington. Joe was the leader of the Zags fast break offense and tight defense.
After graduating from Gonzaga, Joe decided to teach and coach in the Dayton area. His first job was at Dixon-Israel elementary in Eaton where he was the principal and coached basketball and baseball. From there he coached basketball and football in the Germantown school system. His last twelve years were as principal of Weller Elementary in Centerville. He retired in 1982 and still lives in Centerville.
Joe was married for 58 years to the late Donna Rae Willoweit Dietrich. They have two sons, Ray and Joe, two granddaughters, Michelle and Karen.