Man of many talents

Pick a sport, and Walter “Bud” Surface could play it.

Correction: He could star in it.

From the mid-1920s through the early 1930s, Surface had few peers around the state when it came multisport versatility.

A 1928 graduate of Greenwood High School, he stood out in football, track and field, baseball, wrestling and — as evidenced by his 1980 induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame — basketball.

The first Greenwood athlete enshrined in the Hall of Fame, Surface was the school’s basketball team captain his junior and senior seasons. He earned All-Johnson County and All-Sectional honors both years and was widely regarded among the state’s top players.

But basketball wasn’t his only calling.

Surface was also the captain of Greenwood’s football team and participated in track, baseball and wrestling. He lettered in all four sports, in addition to basketball.

After graduation, he continued his

athletics career at Franklin College, where he played basketball and football and enjoyed success in both in equal measure.

He was a three-year captain of Franklin’s football team and was a three-year starting guard on its nationally renowned basketball team, coached by the legendary Ernest “Griz” Wagner of Wonder Five fame.

Surface served as the basketball team’s captain his senior year. And he had the rare distinction of being selected All-State in football and basketball, an honor that was, at the time, bestowed on college athletes.

After graduating from Franklin in 1932, Surface embarked on a coaching and athletic administrative career before opening a business in Seymour.

From 1932 to 1934, he coached basketball at Paoli High School before moving on to Shields High School in Seymour, where he coached basketball, football and track and served nine years as the school’s athletics director.

In 1943, he established the Surface Insurance Co. in Seymour. Although ownership has since changed hands, Surface Insurance still operates

in Seymour.

One of Johnson County’s all-time greatest athletes, Surface is one of only three Greenwood graduates in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

The others are Tom Lyons (inducted 1981) and John Mark Bass (2015).

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.