The list is in alphabetical order with those who have photos available listed first followed by those who I don’t have pictures for yet. I have also included a tribute to the Congressional Medal of Honor winners from Hancock county followed by a listing of members of the US Congress from the area. Where I’ve confirmed people were born in Findlay I note that in their listing. “Famous” is a subjective term here. I decided to include those who are or were known in their field of work if not to the public at large and to be featured with a photo the person would also need to have accomplished something in their field.
This list is a work in progress as I don’t know everything. If you have a suggestion about someone, who was born and/or lived in Findlay or Hancock county, please let me know on the submission form (you can use the form to let me know about any corrections). If you can, please provide some kind of on-line means for me to verify your suggestion.
Willard Harrison Bennett
Invented the radio frequency mass spectrometer, in 1955, a device that measures the mass of ions. In the 1930’s Bennett pioneered studies in plasma physics – the study of gases ionized by high-voltage electricity. Born in Findlay.
(b.1903 d.1987: Physicist and inventor)
Peggy Kirk Bell
An early member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and renowned golf instructor. Won three Ohio Amateurs and the 1949 Titleholders Championship and North and South Women’s Amateur. She was also a member of the 1950 U.S. Curtis Cup team before turning professional. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1921 d. 2016: Professional golfer & instructor)
Broke into the major leagues in 2007 with the Oakland A’s, played for the Washington Nationals (2014), New York Mets (2015 – 2018) and Atlanta Braves (2019). Born in Johnson City, TN, Blevins grew up in Arcadia and graduated in 2001 from Arcadia High School. He currently lives in Hancock county and has held a baseball camp for Arcadia area kids for several years
(b. 9/6/1983 : Baseball pitcher)
William Wallace Campbell
A pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy (the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy) that helped confirm Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. He also served as director of Lick Observatory, the world’s first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory, and President of the University of California. Campbell was born on a farm in Cass Township, just east of Van Buren.
(b. 1862 d.1938: Astronomer)
Played professionally on the Futures, European, and Asian tours before qualifying for the LPGA Tour in 1985. In 1987, she posted four top 10 finishes and was No. 47 on the money list. The Findlay, Ohio, native enjoyed an outstanding athletic career in high school and earned basketball and golf scholarships to Ohio University, where she graduated in 1975. She went on to establish the Julie Cole Charity Golf Classic in Findlay. Graduated from Findlay High
Ralph Dayton Cole
U.S. Representative from Ohio (1905-1911) One of the founders of the American Legion at Paris February 16, 1919. Born in Vanlue. Lived and worked in Findlay.
(b. 1873 – d. 1932: politician)
2017 Tony Award winner for a revival of “Hello Dolly”. His first big part was the male lead, Jimmy Smith, in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, which led to a Tony nomination for Best Actor (Musical). He got another Tony nomination for his role in the revival of “Hair” in 2009. Creel has released the albums “Goodtimenation”, “Quiet”, and “Get Out”. His official website is at gavincreel.com
(b. 1976: Broadway actor and recording artist)
Wrote, along with partner Howard Lindsay, “Life with Father” and “Sound of Music” for Broadway. He won a Tony for “Sound of Music” in 1960. Born in Findlay. He is the father of actress Lindsay Crouse and grandfather of actress Zosia Mamet.
(b. 1893 d. 1966: actor, writer, and producer)
Graduated from Findlay High School in 1954. Best known for rolls in ‘Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Evita’, and ‘1776’ on Broadway as well as many roles off-Broadway and in touring companies. Has also appeared in movies and as a guest on various TV shows like “Law and Order” and ‘Wonder Woman’. Father of actor Jon Cryer from CBS’ “Two and Half Men”
(b. 1936: stage actor)
Jo Ann Davidson
Selected as the first woman speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1995. Served 20 years in the Ohio House and is active in the National Republican Party. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1927: politician)
Delos Daniel Drake
Was a Major League Baseball player who played 83 games in the Detroit Tigers outfield in 1911 beside Ty Cobb. Grew up in Findlay. His father was manager of the Findlay Sluggers in the 1890’s. With the Tigers, he hit for a .279 average in 315 at bats, had 9 triples and 20 stolen bases. Worked for 30 years for Marathon Oil.
(b. 1886 d. 1965: Baseball)
An actor during the golden age of Hollywood. She also was a major star on Broadway and in Vaudeville. From one of her successful Broadway roles, she played the titular role in the first full-length screen comedy, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance” (1914), opposite Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand. She won a Best Actress Oscar in 1931 for the movie “Min and Bill” Lived in Findlay as a child through her teen years.
(b. 1868 – d. 1934: actor)
Douglas Blue Feather
Cherokee heritage & adopted Dakota (Zephier family Ihunktowan Band of the Yankton Sioux Nation of South Dakota), is an internationally known recording artist and performer of music featuring the Native American flute. The highlights of Doug’s career include winning eleven national music awards including five Indian Summer Music Awards in the categories of “Best Native American Flute” and “Best Contemporary Instrumental”, four Native American Music Awards in the categories of “Flutist of the Year” and “Best New Age”, the Global Music Awards, and the Visionary Music Awards. In total, Douglas has received over 60 various award nominations and has been a voting member of the Grammys in the Producers & Engineers Wing since 2007. Grew up in Findlay and attended the University of Findlay.
Co-hosted, along with Shari Hiller, the long running HGTV show “room by room” and “Around The House with Matt and Shari” on PBS. Born and grew up in Findlay.
Donald Arthur Gary
When his ship was hit in battle Commander Gary risked his life to save many fellow crew members. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Gary has a public park named for him in Garden Grove, California where he lived later in life. Born in Findlay. Other Medal of Honor winners are listed further down.
(b. 1901 – d. 1977: US Navy, World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient)
Led Indiana University to their first and so far only Rose Bowl in 1968. IU’s all-time leader in both passing yardage and passing touchdowns until 1980; still 8th on all-time yardage list and 3rd in passing scores; career 1,336 yards passing and 11 TDs; Academic All-Big Ten; Academic All-American; National Honor Scholar; recipient of prestigious Hoosier Award. Gonso is still a legend to IU fans. Born in Findlay and graduated from Findlay High in 1966. (Editors Note: My Dad played Midget Football with Gonso as kids in Findlay.)
(b. 1948 – college football QB, lawyer)
Won the first Indy 500 in 1911 with the #32 Marmon “Wasp” that included the world’s first rear view mirror. Lived in Findlay as late as 1910 at 122 Garfield St. His parents are buried in Findlay.
(b. 1879 – d. 1968: race driver)
C.J. “Pappy” Hart
Opened first commercial drag strip in Southern California (the Santa Ana Dragstrip) in 1950 to give hot rods a place to race legally. Developed the first rules for drag racing and established the ‘quarter-mile’ as a standard race distance. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1911 – d. 2004: Drag Racing)
James B. Hill
Invented the Buckeye Traction Ditcher in 1894 that helped quickly drain the Great Black Swamp in Northwest Ohio and large parts of Florida, Louisiana, as well as many wet areas in the rest of the world. One improvement Hill made in his ditcher machine, in 1907, when having problems with mud in Louisiana, was developing a continuous track (aka ‘tank’ tread) one sees on various construction vehicles today. Hill also invented a variety of corn that could grow in wet places like Louisiana. The Buckeye Traction Ditcher was produced in Findlay until 1970. Hill lived in Findlay for many years. He is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.
(b. 1856 – d. 1945: inventor)
William “Dummy” Hoy
Born in Houcktown. His claim to fame was he is the first deaf mute major league baseball player to play the game. Legend has it that it was because of Hoy that umpires use hand signals for balls and strikes today. Some even say that all the various hand signs are the result of his playing days. There is no documented proof of that but it sounds interesting. Hoy was active from 1888 to 1903 and played in 1796 games with an average of .287 that included 2004 hits, 1426 runs, 40 homers and 726 runs batted in. His career included stops with the Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, and the Cincinnati Reds from 1888 to 1902. Hoy was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2003 and is remembered as an innovator and advocate for the deaf community. He was named a recipient of the 2019 Great Ohioan Award.
(b. 1862 – d. 1961: baseball player)
Grant “Homerun” Johnson
Played in the Negro Leagues from 1894 to 1932. First played for the integrated Findlay Sluggers in 1893-1894 and hit a reported 60 homeruns. On October 7, 1893 Grant Johnson hit two home runs off Tony Mullane to lead Findlay to a 5-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds of the National League. Johnson also made stops with Cuban X-Giants, Philadelphia Giants, and Brooklyn Royal Giants among others. Considered one of the greatest hitters in the Negro Leagues. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1874 – d. 1963: baseball player)
Was the drummer for Letters to Cleo in early 90’s. He played with Veruca Salt in 1997-1998 and then started his own band American High Fi. In addition to being one of America’s best drummers, Stacy is also a music producer. Producing and recording singers such Ingrid Michaelson and the band Plain White Tee’s. Today, Stacy is still the lead singer/songwriter for American Hi Fi and is also the drummer and music director for one of America’s most popular singer songwriters Miley Cyrus. Lived in Findlay for a couple of years while growing up.
Star punter for Northwestern University. Active in the NFL from 1984-1998. The highest-selected punter in Buffalo Bills history. Kidd also played for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, and New York Jets. Graduated from Findlay High School – Class of 1980. Was a star punter, quarterback, and basketball player for FHS.
(b. 1961: NFL Punter)
Clyde “Dizzy” Kirkendall
A member of five national championship fast pitch teams, Kirkendall compiled a record of 1,144 wins and 52 losses during his fast pitch career (1932-1953) playing for ten different teams. He hurled 167 no-hitters. He was a pitcher for the champion Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons softball team in the 1940’s. Member, National Softball Hall of Fame. Buried in Findlay.
(b.1915 d. 1957: softball)
Dr. Harold Koontz
Leading mid-twentieth century writer on business management theory and a consultant for US’s largest business organizations. His seminal book was “Principles of Management” (1955) with Cyril J. O’Donnell sold around two million copies and has been translated into 15 languages. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1908 d. 1984: Business Consultant)
Served as a United States Representative from Ohio’s 5th district from 1959 to 1989. A Republican, he is one of the state’s longest-serving politicians as well as the father of Bob Latta, who has held his father’s congressional seat since 2007. Lived in Hancock county for many years and is buried in McComb.
(b. 1920 d.2016: politician)
David “Dave” Lester Laut
He won the bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He also won the gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games and the bronze at the 1981 IAAF World Cup. He later became an Athletic Director for Hueneme High School in Oxnard, CA. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1956 d. 2009: Olympic shot put)
Rowland V. Lee
Known for directing low budget horror movies like Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Captain Kidd (1945). Lee received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. Rowland V. Lee’s IMDB page. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1891 – d. 1975: actor, director, writer, producer)
Owned the most successful Unlimited Hydroplane boat in history “Miss Budweiser”. The team won 134 of the 354 hydroplane races they entered. They won the high points championship 22 years in 40 years of competition, and the Gold Cup 14 times. Grew up in McComb, Ohio.
(b. 1926 – d. 2003: Beverage distributor & Hydroplane boat owner)
Played “Doug Neidermeyer” in the classic film Animal House (1978) “The Master” in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1996-1998 and 2002) and “Maestro” on a couple of episodes of “Seinfeld” (1996) among others. His IMDB page. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1946: actor, producer)
J. Robin Miller
Guest starred on many TV shows such as NCIS, CSI, JAG, That 70’s Show, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Played Lydia Karenin Cassadine #2 on General Hospital in 2003. Born in Findlay. Miller’s IMDB page
(b. 1972: actor)
Resigned from West Point in 2010 in protest of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. She resigned rather than lie to continue her military career. She was ranked 17th in her class at the time. Her story made national news which included being a guest of singer Lady Gaga at the MTV video music awards on September 12th 2010. In 2019, she was pursuing a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. Graduated from Findlay High School – class of 2008.
One of the most popular Broadway musical stars of the 1920s and early 1930s. She was an accomplished tap dancer, singer and actress, but it was the combination of these talents that endeared her to audiences. She worked for famed Broadway producers Lee Shubert and Florenz Ziegfeld who made her a star after she performed in his Ziegfeld Follies. She also danced with Fred Astaire in 1930. Miller, in her youth, lived for many years in Findlay while with her family’s vaudeville act the “Five Columbians”.
(b. 1898 – d. 1936: dancer, singer and actor)
Aka the “Findlay Flyer,” Steve Morehead was one of the leading dirt-track racers from the mid-1970s through the 1990s. He won a total of 23 AMA Nationals during his 26-year professional racing career. He finished ranked in the top-10 a remarkable 17 times. Morehead became a fan favorite and was one of the oldest riders on the professional dirt-track circuit when he retired. Born in Findlay. (b. 1955: motorcycle racing)
At the age of 17, he was awarded a 1970 BMI Student Composer Award for his orchestral work Ilium, New York, Is Divided into Three Parts. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston from 1971 to 1975. In 1976, he moved to New York City to become a studio musician, arranger, and producer for a wide range of well-known artists, including Aaron Neville, Aztec Camera, Brian Wilson, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Chromeo, Diana Krall, Diana Ross, Donald Fagen, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Karen Carpenter, Madonna, Michael Franks, Natalie Cole, Paul Simon, Rihanna, Steely Dan, and others. He performed on keyboards in 1981 for Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in the Park. He is a six-time Grammy Award nominee, and a winner of two Emmy Awards. He lived in Findlay for a few years in his younger days. (b. 1952: musician, composer, and arranger)
He was a barnstormer before becoming a stunt pilot, advertising several oil companies including the then Ohio Oil Company. He was known for having a set of landing gear mounted on the top wing of a biplane and landing it upside down. During WW II, he led the glider assault into Normandy on D-Day. Later, he founded and became head of the Marathon Oil Company’s Aviation Department. He was elected to the International Aerobatics Hall of Fame in 1988. He lived in the Findlay area for many years.
(b. 1908 d. 1981: aviator)
Weldon Howard “Weldy” Olson
An American ice hockey player. He won a silver medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics and a gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics. In his Olympic career he played in 14 games and scored 7 goals. Olson played hockey for the Michigan State Spartans from 1951 to 1955. He came to Findlay to manage The Cube Ice Arena (then called the Hancock Rec Center) from 1977 to 1996. Still lives in Findlay.
(b.1932: Olympic hockey player)
Michael Garver “Mike” Oxley
Republican member of the U.S. Congress from the 4th congressional district of Ohio (1981-2007). He served as the chairman of the Committee on Financial Services, and was House sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which provided for oversight of public companies to prevent fraud. Also worked as an FBI agent before going into politics. Other members of Congress who were born or lived in Findlay and Hancock county
(b. 1944 – d. 2016: politician)
Assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets (2006-2007) and Dallas Mavericks (1995-2005). He was head coach of the USC Trojans (1995-1996), Wayne State (1982-1988) and a long time assistant at various colleges including Bowling Green and his alma mater, University of Findlay where he had also played as part of the Class of 1972. He is currently coaching international teams such as Chinese Taipei.
James D. Parriott
Lived for a time in Findlay as a youth. Has worked as creator and/or producer and/or writer of such shows as “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005), “Patriot” (2015), Defying Gravity” (2009), and “Ugly Betty” (2006). He also created, wrote, and/or produced classic TV shows such as “Forever Knight” (1992-1996), “Voyagers!” (1982), “The Bionic Woman” (1976-1978) and “The Incredible Hulk” (1978-1982). Wow! His IMDB page.
(b. 1950: writer, producer, director)
Most recently helped write and produce The Descendants movie series for the Disney Channel. She also wrote and/or produced the films “Three Men and a Little Lady” (1990) and “Runaway Bride” (1999), and many TV series including “Desperate Housewives” and “The Starter Wife”. She is the sister of screenwriter James Parriott. Raised in Findlay and graduated from Findlay High School.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Minister and author of the book “The Power of Positive Thinking“. Lived in Findlay when his father was pastor of the First Methodist Church from 1916 to 1919, and later superintendent of the old Findlay District of the denomination. Dr. Peale worked as a reporter for the Findlay Morning Republican newspaper, in 1920, before going into the ministry.
(b. 1898 – d. 1993: clergyman)
Forest Charles “Tot” Pressnell
Was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs from 1938 to 1942. Worked for Marathon Oil and as a handyman later in life. Born and buried in Findlay.
(b. 1906 – d. 2001: baseball player)
May not be well known to the general public but Purdy’s writing influenced a number of writers and literary figures over the decades from Dorothy Parker and Gore Vidal to Jonathan Franzen. Won two Guggenheim Fellowships (1958 and 1962) and was nominated for the 1985 PEN/Faulkner Award. Grew up in Findlay and graduated from Findlay High in 1932.
(b. 1914 – d. 2009: novelist, poet, playwright)
Appeared on Broadway and TV dramas in the 1950s Born in Hicksville, OH graduated from Findlay High School and Findlay College moved to New York in the late 1940s. He is the brother of author James Purdy. Richard’s Broadway credits and his TV credits.
(b.1909 d.1967 : actor)
Howard Taylor Ricketts
He discovered the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and was one of the researchers who found the same bacterium led to epidemic typhus. He died from typhus during his research in Mexico. The science community named a taxonomic family (Rickettsiaceae) and an order (Rickettsiales) after him. Born in Findlay.
(b. 1871 – d. 1910: pathologist)
Led Pittsburgh Steelers to 15-1 regular season record as a rookie in 2004. Helped Steelers win Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season and Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. First played quarterback as a senior in high school at Findlay High and finished 2nd in the 1999 Ohio Mr. Football award with over 4,000 yards and 54 touchdowns as a senior. Because he is 6 feet 5″ tall his nickname is “Big Ben”. Along with his sister, Carlee, Ben was inducted into the Hancock Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
(b. 1982: football QB)
Has directed many episodes for some of the best shows on TV such as All Rise (CBS), Scandal (ABC), Arrow (CW), Criminal Minds (CBS), Parenthood (NBC), NCIS (CBS), About A Boy (NBC), The Mysteries of Laura (NBC), The Originals (CW), Nashville (ABC), and many many others. In 2018 she became the producing director of the CBS drama Bull. Here is Bethany’s IMDB page. Graduated from Findlay High.
Twice named first team All-Buckeye Conference, was Ohio Player of the Year 1965-66, and was named Buckeye Conference MVP. He remains among FHS’ all-time leaders in career, season and game scoring. Played for Ohio State. Led Ohio State in scoring and rebounding as a junior and as a senior. Helped the Buckeyes win the 1968 Big Ten championship and hit the game-winning basket against Kentucky that sent the Buckeyes into the 1968 NCAA Final Four. Played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. Sorenson’s NBA stats.
(b. 1948 – d. 2002: basketball)
Head football coach at the University of Findlay (1975-1998). In 24 seasons as head coach, he posted 22 winning seasons. He won a share of 13 conference titles and made 13 NAIA playoff appearances. In 1979, 1992, 1995 and 1997 his Oilers won the national championship, with the 1978 team placing second. He coached 38 NAIA All-America players, 16 NAIA Scholar-Athletes and one NAIA Player of the Year. His career record was 183-46-5. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
(b. 1934: Football coach)
Helped create one of the original Tin Pan Alley music publishing houses and wrote the song “Down by the Old Mill Stream” about the Blanchard River that runs through Findlay and Hancock county. Born and buried in Vanlue.
(b. 1876 – d. 1937: songwriter)
The winner of over 100 sprint car features, Wilson has been a fixture in sprint car racing for over a quarter century. Lives in Benton Ridge.
Robert Vincent “Bob” Wortman
He was the owner of Wortman Insurance from 1953-1986. He had a career in the N.F.L. as an official spanning the years 1964-1992. He held the Field Judge position and was privileged to officiate at the 1972 and 1978 Super Bowls. Bob also was a Mid-Am Basketball official from 1956-1981, officiating two consecutive Final 4’s in 1975 and 1976; and was a supervisor in that conference from 1981-1984. From 1984-1988 he was a Big Ten Basketball supervisor. Bob was in the first class of inductees into the Hancock County Sports Hall of Fame and was also inducted into the Findlay College Hall of Fame in 1972. Born in Findlay.
(b.1927 d.2015: Football and Basketball official)
Others of Note
John E. Benington (b. 1921 – d. 1969: basketball coach) was head coach at Michigan State (1966-1969). Benington died of a massive heart attack at age 47. Born in Findlay.
Richard C. “Dick” Clark (b. 1944 d. 1988: basketball player) played for the Minnesota Muskies (1967-68) and Houston Mavericks (1968-69) in the old ABA for 58 games. Born in Findlay.
David Gamper (b. 1945 – d. 2011: composer) was a member of Deep Listening Band with Pauline Oliveros & Stuart Dempster and “See Hear Now” with his wife Gisela.
Medal Of Honor Recipients
Findlay and Hancock County has produced six Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients:
William Bensinger, 21st Ohio Infantry (1840-1918) buried in McComb, OH
John R. Porter, 21st Ohio Infantry (1838-1923) buried in McComb, OH
John Morehead Scott, 21st Ohio Infantry (1839-1862) (posthumous; was hanged as a spy by the Confederates) buried in The Chattanooga National Cemetery, TN
— all were part of Andrews’ Raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia. The mission was to steal a locomotive and do as much damage to a vital Confederate rail line between Chattanooga and Atlanta.
Wilson J Vance, 21st Ohio Infantry (Died 1911). At Stone River, Tenn., 31 December 1862.
William H Williams 82d Ohio Infantry. At Peach Tree Creek, Ga., 20 July 1864.
The sixth Donald Arthur Gary is noted in the section above.
Members of Congress
In addition to Mike Oxley, Delbert Latta, and Ralph D. Cole mentioned in the first part of this page, Findlay and Hancock County have been the home to several members of Congress over the years.
Jackson Edward Betts (b. 1904 – d. 1993) was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio (1951 – 1973). Born in Findlay.
R. Clint Cole (b. 1870 – d. 1957) was a U.S. Representative from Ohio (1919-1925), brother of Ralph D. Cole. Lived and worked in Findlay.
Tennyson Guyer (b. 1913 – d. 1981) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio (1973-1981). Born in Findlay.
William Mungen (b. 1821 – d. 1887) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio (1867-1871). Lived and worked in Findlay from childhood. Hancock county auditor, served in the Ohio Senate, and was editor and publisher of the Findlay Democratic Courier
Richard Williams (b. 1836 – d. 1914) was an American lawyer and politician in the state of Oregon. A native of Findlay Ohio, he moved to Oregon in 1851 where he became an attorney. A Republican, he was the United States Congressman representing Oregon’s at large congressional district for one term from 1877 to 1879.