Ten Ohio Wesleyan Superstars

Big Names from Ohio Wesleyan


Ever since its founding in 1842, Delaware’s Ohio Wesleyan has led many of today’s most notable figures to achieving their biggest dreams and has been the starting point to their success. From football coaches, to hall of fame inductees, to actresses, authors and scientists, to civil rights activists, and even the person who signed Jackie Robinson, any dream can be reached at not just Delaware’s Ohio Wesleyan, but at any school. You can live in a small city and still live a big dream. (Inspirational quote of the day)

Here are ten Ohio Wesleyan graduates who are widely known today for their achievements and contributions to society. Maybe you’ll recognize one of them? If not, then you will after reading this. Prepare to be amazed.

Charles Fairbanks (VP Under Theodore Roosevelt)

Birthdate: May 11, 1852 – June 4, 1918    Birthplace: Delaware, Ohio
OWU Grad Year: 1872
Best Known For: Served as senator from Indiana (1897-1905), became the 26th Vice President of the U.S. under Theodore Roosevelt (1905-1909)
Achievements: Served as a key adviser to William McKinley during the Spanish-American War
Fun Fact: Born in a log cabin in Delaware, Ohio and saw his family’s home used as a hiding place for runaway slaves, the following cities are named after Charles Fairbanks: Fairbanks, Alaska, Fairbanks, Minnesota, Fairbanks, Oregon, and Fairbanks Township, Michigan, Fairbanks School District in Union County, Ohio also got its name from Charles Fairbanks, on May 15, 2009, an Ohio historical marker was dedicated to Unionville Center, commemorating Fairbanks’ birthplace

Photo of Chalres Fairbanks. Photo from Wikipedia.com. Nice facial hair Mr. Fairbanks!

Wesley Branch Rickey (Signed Jackie Robinson/WWI Major)

Birthdate: December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965   Birthplace: Stockdale, Ohio
OWU Grad Year: 1904
Best Known For: Breaking the Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson, drafting the First Afro-Hispanic superstar Roberto Clemente, MLB player for the St. Louis Browns and the NY Highlanders from 1905-1907, Coached football at OWU and Allegheny College and played for the professional Shelby Blues, catcher on the baseball team at OWU, Served in the U.S. Army in 1917-1918 during WWI on the western front as a major, commanded a chemical training team unit and was a member of the Chemical Warfare Service for 4 months
Achievements: Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, embarked a successful managing and executive career with the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, elected into the team Hall of Fame by the Cardinals in 2014
Education: B.A. from OWU
Awards: Induction into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 1997, Baseball College Hall of Fame in 2009

Photo of Wesley Branch Rickey as a young student at OWU. Photo from appalachianhistory.net. This is perhaps the blankest look I’ve ever seen in a portrait.

George Edkin Little (College Football Hall of Fame Inductee)

Birthdate: May 27, 1889 – Feb. 23, 1957   Birthplace: Washington D.C.
OWU Grad Year: 1912
Best Known For: Served as the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati (1914-1915), Miami University (1916, 1919-1921), the University of Michigan (1924), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1925-1926)
Achievements: Played guard on the OWU basketball team, compiled a college football career of 54-16-4, served as the Executive Secretary of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1955

Photo of George Edkin Little. Photo from Wikipedia.com. I can see this guy was a big fan of turtle necks!


Alexander Brown Mackie (Football Coach)

Birthdate: May 1, 1894 – June 5, 1966   Birthplace: Gazam, Pennsylvania
OWU Grad Year: 1916
Best Known For: Founder of Brown Mackie College in Salina, Kansas, coached football for the Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes (1921-1937), football player for Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (1913), Graduate from OWU
Achievements: Ranked #2 at Kansas Wesleyan in total wins and second at the school in winning percentage, his team won the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference championship five times during his tenure as coach, his team was one of the few undefeated teams in the country (1931)
Frank Sherwood Rowland (The Nobel Prize Winner and Chemistry Whiz)

Birthdate: June 28, 1927 – March 10, 2012   Birthplace: Delaware, Ohio
OWU Grad Year: 1948
Best Known For: His discovery that chlorofluorocarbons contribute to ozone depletion, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, being an American Nobel Laureate
Achievements: Graduated high school weeks before his 16th birthday, graduated from OWU before his 18th birthday, held academic posts at Princeton University (1952-1956) and at the University of Kansas (1956-1964), elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1978 and served as president of the American Associate for the Advancement of Sciences
Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in 1952 from the University of Chicago, B.A. from OWU in 1948
Awards: Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1995), the Albert Einstein World Award of Science (1994), the Tolman Medal (1976), and others
Fun Fact: Rowland is the father of art historian Ingrid Rowland

Photo of Frank Sherwood Rowland. Picture from nobelprize.org. Doesn’t he look like Carl from the movie Up??

Mary King (Civil Rights Activist)

OWU Grad Year: 1962
Best Known For: Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the United Nations affiliated University for Peace, political scientists, author, stirred the beginning of women’s liberation
Achievements: Set up her own student organization called the Student Committee on Race Relations which linked together 60 students to chance University policies; such as, OWU’s policy of rooming black freshman in single dorms or only with each other, along with the University’s policy of limiting black enrollment, distinguished scholar at the American University Center for Global Peace in Washington D.C, became a staff member for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, wrote Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, co-published essays on women’s issues with fellow activist Casey Hayden,
Education: Doctorate in international politics from Aberystwyth University
Awards: El-Hibri Peace Education Prize (2009), Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award, James M. Lawson Award for Nonviolent Achievement (2011), the Jamnalal Bajaj International Prize, named for Gandhi’s silent financial backer (2003)
Fun Fact: King has a new book coming out this year called Ganhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India which concerns a 1920s nonviolent campaign against untouchability in Kerala, India

Photo of Mary King. Photo from soan.owu.edu

John Barry Clemens (The Basketball Player)

Birthdate: May 1, 1943   Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio
OWU Grad Year: 1965
Best Known For: Former professional basketball player for the NBA’s New York Knicks in the 1965 NBA Draft, also played with The Chicago Bulls, The Seattle SuperSonics, The Cleveland Cavilers, and the Portland Trail Blazers
Achievements: Retired in 1976 with a career total points of 5,312 and 2,532 rebounds, inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, became the only student at OWU to win the Ohio Athletic Conference MVP in 1965
Fun Fact: Attended Xenia high school in Xenia, Ohio, averaged 5.4 points per game when he played with the Knicks.


James Oberg (Space Junkie)

Birthdate: November 7, 1944   Birthplace: New York, New York
OWU Grad Year: 1966
Best Known For: American space journalist and historian, regarded as an expert on the Russian space program
Achievements: Served in the U.S. Air Force, joined NASA in 1975 where he worked until 1997 at the Johnson Space Center on the Space Shuttle Program, authored Space Power Theory (1999) which was sponsored by the U.S. Military as part of an official campaign in changing perceptions of space welfare, specifically deployment and use of weapons in outer space, currently a space correspondent with MSNBC and previously for ABC and UPI, privately published several books on the Soviet and later Russian programs and became on of the few Western specialists on Russian space history
Education: B.A. in Mathematics from OWU (1966), M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University (1969), M.S. in Computer Science from the University of New Mexico (1972)

Photo of James Oberg presenting two lectures to students at OWU in 2010. Photo from connect2.owu.edu. What a very interesting tie he’s wearing… maybe it’s just an astronomer thing.

Wendie Malick (American Actress)

Birthdate: December 13, 1950   Birthplace: Buffalo, New York
OWU Grad Year: 1972
Best Known For: American actress and former fashion model, best known for her roles in television comedies
Achievements: Starred as Judith Tupper Stone in the HBO series Dream On (1990-1996), starred as Nina Van Horn in the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me! (1997-2003), has made over 50 guest appearances on shows, began fashion modeling for the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency, worked for Republican congressman Jack Kemp, guess-starred on the X Files in 1998, starred in Disney’s animated film The Emperor’s New Groove as Chicha in 2000, joined the case of Frasier portraying Ronee Lawrence in 2003, on the advisory board of the Humane Society and on the board of advocates for Planned Parenthood
Awards: Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2002), CableACE Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (1992-1994, 1996), Nominated for the Golden Globe Award (1999), and others

Photo of Wendie Malick speaking at OWU’s 157th Commencement in 2001. Photo from news.owu.edu

Ram Samudrala (Biologist/Protein Researcher)

Birthdate: March 23, 1972
OWU Grad Year: 1993
Best Known For: All atom knowledge based simulations and computational drug discovery, understanding how the genome of an organism specifies its behavior and characteristics in order to improve health and the quality of life
Achievements: Professor of computational biology at the University of Washington in Seattle, co-published more than 100 manuscripts in a variety of journals including PLos Biology and the Journal of the American Medical Association, published the Free Music Philosophy (1994) which accurately predicted how the case of copying and transmitting digital information by the Internet would lead to unprecedented violations of copyright laws and new models of distribution for music and other digital media
Education: Undergraduate degrees in Computing Science and Genetics from OWU, Ph.D. in Computational Structural Biology at the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology (1993-1997)
Awards: Searle Scholar Award (2002), named one of the world’s top young innovators by MIT Technology Review in 2003

Photo of Ram Samudrala. Photo from Wikipedia.com

These people are just a few examples of how you don’t need to attend some big, prestigious school in order to make a notable difference in this world. Small-town Delaware and Ohio Wesleyan proves this point exactly.


  1. Denise Brenner says:

    Great feature! Wish you would have also included each individual’s OWU fraternity/sorority affiliation. These organizations take great pride in their alumni/alumnae achievers!

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