When Elida native Dan Cheney found out this summer that he was going to be inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, he immediately began making plans to travel from his home in Bellingham, Wash. to attend the Columbus induction dinner and subsequent football game during the last weekend in September.
His sister Mary Elmquist Lane said, “it was one of the highlights of Dan’s life when he heard the news. He couldn’t stop talking about it. He was spending all of his time planning the big trip.”
Cheney will not be able to attend the OSU Hall of Fame induction Sept. 27 and 28. He passed away Saturday at the age of 76.
“Dan had been ill, off and on for several years, but he really believed he was going to be able to make that ceremony,” Lane told me. "He so looked forward to it.”
Cheney was a three-sport athlete — football, basketball and a little baseball — at Elida High School in the 1950s.
But when he went to college at Ohio State, it was the sport of lacrosse where Cheney excelled.
“He had great athletic ability, but didn’t have the brawn and size for football, so he found lacrosse,” according to Lane. “Although when I asked Dan’s wife about why lacrosse, she told me he needed a gym class and he thought it looked fun, so he signed up for it.”
Whatever the reason, Cheney was a star in lacrosse. A three-year lettermen from 1957-59, Cheney served as senior co-captain in 1959 and picked up USILA Honorable Mention All-American accolades and a spot on the Midwest All-Star First Team. A midfielder in the sport, he had a career high 20 goals and three assists in his final year with the Buckeyes.
It was also at Ohio State that he would learn his career profession — dentistry. He had earned early admission into the OSU College of Dentistry. Following dental school, Cheney was a member of the first brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in the Army. He served as the brigade dental surgeon for more than 6,000 men and was the only dentist to command a medical company during the war in Vietnam. Cheney earned many decorations, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Medical Badge, Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation. Cheney was also honored for his work with a dental outreach program in Guatemala. He continued to practice dentistry until retiring in 2008.
It was that year that his high school alma mater inducted him into the Elida Hall of Fame for his distinguished professional and community service.
Dr. Cheney was not able to attend that ceremony either. For the Ohio State ceremony, he will be represented by his wife, two children, a brother and two sisters.
When you watch the Ohio State-Wisconsin game Sept. 28, don’t turn away at halftime.
You will see a Limaland guy get his due for what he loved to do, both on and off the athletic field.
Wish he could have made the trip himself, but I will be thinking of him that day.
Rest in peace, Dr. Dan Cheney.
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