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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

A Deserving Legacy

 

Elizabeth and Everett LantzEverett Lantz and Elizabeth (Betty) Stratton met as students at the University of Wyoming and began together what would become a life devoted to supporting UW and Wyoming's youth for 46 years.

The couple began working on the campus following graduation in 1936, Everett in Athletics as a wrestling and football coach and Betty in the UW Libraries. Married a year and a half later, they raised their three sons and one daughter in Laramie, with Everett teaching and coaching at UW until his retirement in 1982.

To honor them and to recognize their contributions to the university, the couple's son, Phillip E. Lantz, established two scholarships and a professorship: the Everett D. Lantz Memorial Scholarship in the College of Education, the Everett D. Lantz Wrestling Scholarship, and the Everett D. and Elizabeth M. Lantz Distinguished Professorship.

The Everett D. Lantz Memorial Scholarship in the College of Education provides support for students majoring in elementary and secondary education, a fitting tribute to Dr. Lantz, who believed in "giving quality young people a good start in life so that they could do big things later," according to his son, Phil. After Everett received his doctorate degree from UCLA, he became a full-time member of the College of Education, where he was a professor for 25 years. He also served as assistant to the President of UW and worked with the Governor on the Wyoming Council for Children and Youth.

Dr. Lantz's 27 years as wrestling coach is what many people remember most, and thus the Everett D. Lantz Wrestling Scholarship seemed an appropriate way to honor his legacy. "He received a lot of fitting recognition during the course of his career and upon his retirement, including the wrestling room that bears his name," says Phil. "I wanted to create an opportunity for future students to benefit from my dad's dedication to athletics and education, just as his students and athletes did in the past."

Everett grew up in Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship. He followed a coach to UW, where he lettered in three sports- football, wrestling, and track. After graduation, he became an assistant football coach for UW, with the additional duties of coaching wrestling and teaching physical education. He continued to coach wrestling until 1965. During his tenure, the longest of any coach in UW history, teams under his wing won 11 Skyline Conference Championships and two WAC titles. He was named the 1960 NCAA Wrestling Coach of the Year and was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame twice: individually in 1994 and also with the 1959-60 Wrestling Team.

As a boy, Phil remembers walking every afternoon from Whiting School to the UW wrestling practice to see his dad. Phil would stay until it finished, and then he and his father would walk home together. "It was important to me," Phil says. Dr. Lantz passed away in 1998.

During the many years of Everett's teaching and coaching, Betty was at his side, devoted to their family and to the UW community. "She was a model of a great mother and wife," says Phil. "She always made everyone feel welcome." Phil recalls that there were always wrestlers at the Lantz home for dinner. Phil remembers one particular day of a scheduled wrestling meet when temperatures dipped to twenty below zero and all of the gas went out in Laramie. "The wrestling meet still took place, and my mother provided the ever-important pre-wrestling meet meal to the entire team at our house," he says.

"My mother was the quiet one in the partnership," says Phil. "Lots of people appreciated what she did, but she never received any formal recognition. I thought she deserved a legacy, too." In looking for a way to honor his mom, Phil decided that their strength was as a couple, as a team, and decided on a professorship in both of their names. The Everett D. and Elizabeth M. Lantz Distinguished Professorship was established to attract and retain outstanding education scholars and teachers.

Betty currently lives near Phil in Alexandria, Virginia, and at 97, she is still going strong. "She is a very smart woman," says Phil. "If she were 30 today instead of 97, she would be in the midst of a very successful career. As it was, she played her role as society would have her do and was a very supportive wife and mother."

Phil attributes much of his success as an entrepreneur to the lessons he learned from both of his parents. Phil founded Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc., in 1972 with three people, and today it has more than 500 employees who provide support to national security decision makers. "I learned from them how to work hard, to treasure every day of life, to find out what's important and what's not, and to throw all your energy into what's important," he says.

"My hope is that these three gifts to the university will continue to provide encouragement and assistance to outstanding UW students and faculty members while serving as a meaningful and fitting legacy to my parents."

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Top: Elizabeth M. and Everett D. Lantz

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