For 31 years, Frederick “Ted” Server served as the athletics director for Franklin Community High School.
On his watch, Grizzly Cubs teams enjoyed success in a variety of sports. A parade of student-athletes went on to college. And girls sports seamlessly joined the department’s fabric with the passage of Title IX.
But that is only part of his legacy.
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Long before he became an athletics administrator, he was a standout athlete in high school and college. Then he served in the U.S. Navy. Then he became a coach.
Then he became a fixture in the Franklin community, a highly respected and exceedingly well-liked man whose résumé includes a state basketball championship, an Indiana All-Star nod and induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Server died Sunday in Franklin, at age 83, after a lengthy illness.
“I talked to a couple of other people about him (Monday morning), and I think everyone agreed he was the ultimate classy person,” said Franklin boys track and field coach Mike Hall, who had known Server since the 1960s. “He was a great representative of Franklin and Franklin Community Schools.
“He never had a bad word to say about anyone.”
Jon McGlocklin, a former NBA star who played basketball for Server in the late 1950s and early 1960s, echoed the sentiment.
“He was a kind man, a gentle man, and yet a man of authority,” said McGlocklin, who remained close to Server throughout the decades. “He had that really excellent balance of both being strong and yet soft.
“I never had a negative issue at all with Ted. He was influential on my life.”
A graduate of Madison High School, Server was a star player on Madison’s 1950 boys basketball state championship team. He was an Indiana All-Star the same year and went on to play four seasons at Purdue.
After college, he served two years in the Navy and was then hired as basketball coach at North Vernon. Two years later, in 1959, he was hired for the same position at Franklin.
Upon arrival, Server inherited a team that was led by one of the state’s top players in McGlocklin, who was beginning his junior year. McGlocklin, who went on play at Indiana University before starring in the NBA, regards Server’s hiring as a watershed moment in his development.
Player and coach forged an immediate bond and became lifelong friends. McGlocklin frequently stopped by the high school during offseason visits and was known to work out in the gym with Franklin players.
Server always opened the gym for McGlocklin, the starting shooting guard on the Milwaukee Bucks’ 1971 NBA championship team.
“For him to come in and coach me my two critical years before I go to college, it was very important for me and my family that this guy be a good coach and be an influential person in my life, and he was,” said McGlocklin, who played 11 NBA seasons. “We had an immediate close relationship. As a coach, he did a great job with our team and helping develop me for my future.
“We certainly didn’t see the NBA at that time, but we were certainly looking at colleges and universities. That was very much on the horizon by then, because that started for me my freshman and sophomore year.”
Server coached the basketball team from 1959 to 1967, winning sectional titles in 1962 and 1964, and became athletics director in 1962, succeeding Robert “Fuzzy” Vandivier of Wonder Five fame.
Server also coached the varsity baseball team from 1963 to 1978.
In 1984 was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
After retiring from the high school in 1994, he served on the city of Franklin’s Park Board until 2012. Upon his retirement from the board, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness declared March 22, 2012, “Ted Server Day.”
“There were several times when I was with Ted at something at Purdue or elsewhere, and it was kind of like being with a rock star,” said Hall, a Franklin College graduate who has coached at the high school since 1985. “Everybody knew him, and he knew everybody.
“He was just really comfortable in that role.”
Server is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen Server; his son, Ted Server; his daughters Jill Dilk and Jo Hartkorn; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandaughter.