The Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame

120 East Fifth St.
East Liverpool, Ohio 43920

Phone: (330)-386-5443
Fax: (330)-382-0244

2002 Class of Inductees


Urich, Thompson inducted into Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame



Though from different eras, the Upper Ohio Valley produced two of the most prolific entertainment talents of their respective days. Those men, the late Robert Urich and Will Thompson, comprise the Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame’s Class of 2002 Inductees.

An induction ceremony honoring the two men was held June 23, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2002 festivities.

Prior to the induction ceremony held at the Landora, a fine-dining restaurant adjacent to the Hall of Fame, Coach Lou Holtz and his special guests, Tony Rice, quarterback for the ’88 Notre Dame National Football Championship Team; and Marc Edwards, starting fullback for the Super Bowl XXXVI Champion New England Patriots, gathered at the Hall of Fame to mix and mingle with guests.

At 7 p.m. a ceremony to posthumously induct Urich, Toronto native and television star, and East Liverpool’s own composer-musician Thompson began.

 Biographical information and photographs of this year’s inductees follow.

(click on photos to enlarge)


Robert Urich

Robert Urich


A star athlete in high school, Toronto, Ohio, native Robert Urich grew into one of television’s most versatile actors before his death April 16, 2002, from cancer.

Urich’s almost constant presence on television over his 30-year career earned him a record for starring in the most TV shows (15), according to the trivia book, 10,000 Answers: The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia, by Random House.

Born in Toronto, Dec. 19, 1946, Urich, a son of Cecelia Urich of Toronto and the late John Urich, was a talented athlete and captain of his high school football team. However, he also served as the choir master for the school choir and performed in school plays.

He attended Florida State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, on a football scholarship.

He went on to receive a master’s degree from Michigan State in broadcast research and management.

After leaving Michigan State, Urich began his career in the broadcasting business as an account executive and ultimately headed the station’s research department.

He also served a brief stint as a TV weatherman.

His break through into acting came through fellow FSU alum, Burt Reynolds, who helped him land a role in a stage production of Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker.

Urich’s first television role came in 1973, when he landed the role of Bob Sanders in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, based on the 1969 Paul Mazursky film of the same name.

Although the show was quickly canceled, Urich was back on television just two seasons later portraying a Los Angeles police officer in S.W.A.T. After S.W.A.T was canceled in 1976, he then played Billy Campbell in ABC’s groundbreaking comedy, Soap.

Over the next 25 years, he would never be out of a regular television series for more than three seasons, and he also was frequently seen in documentary specials as well as made-for-television movies.

His most memorable television roles were as private detectives – first as Dan Tanna of Vega$, which ran from 1978 to 1981, and then in Spenser: For Hire that aired from 1985 to 1988.

It was in 1996 as he was starring in the TNT Western, The Lazarus Man, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the joints and can spread to the lungs.

Apparently as a result of his diagnosis, the series was canceled, Urich, however, battled on. Following several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and two surgical procedures, he returned to host Vital Signs, an ABC reality series that featured re-enactments of real-life medical dramas told by the physicians and patients involved.

In 1998, he landed the lead role as the captain on an ABC update of The Love Boat. In the fall of 2001, he co-starred on the NBC’s sitcom Emeril and continued to do a number of TV movies.

Over the span of his career, Urich also appeared in a number of television miniseries, such as Lonesome Dove, as well as a handful of theatrical films, including Magnum Force and Turk 182!

In 1992 he was the recipient of an Emmy for his narration of the documentary, U-Boats: Terror on Our Shores, as well as a Cable ACE Award as host of the National Geographic series On Assignment.

Urich was awarded the 2,059th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 1995.

After his diagnosis with cancer, he became an advocate for cancer research and along with his wife, Heather, whom he married in 1974, established the Robert Urich Foundation for Sarcoma Research at the University of Michigan Cancer Center.

He received the Gilda Radner Courage Award from the Rosewell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, and was named national spokesman for the American Cancer Society in 1998.

Beside his wife, Urich is survived by three children, Allison, Ryan and Emily; his mother; a sister; and two brothers.


Will L. Thompson


Will L. Thompson

Late in the 19th Century, East Liverpool could boast that it was home to one of the most prolific and popular songwriters of the times – Will L. Thompson.

Son of Sarah and Josiah Thompson, a prominent entrepreneur and pottery manufacturer, Thompson wrote his first two published songs, (Liverpool Schottische and Darling Minnie Gray) at age 16. In 1874, Thompson published four songs, including “My Home on the Old Ohio” and “Gathering Shells from the Sea.”

Like his father, the younger Thompson proved to be of strong entrepreneurial stock and sent copies of “Shells” to the various minstrel organizations throughout the country. It soon caught on and by 1879, it ranked third behind Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home” and “Silver Threads Among the Gold” – the most popular songs in the United States.

Using a number of pseudonyms, Thompson wrote several secular and patriotic songs. His song, “Housekeeper’s Complaint,” for example, was penned under a woman’s name.

Thompson once said of his music, “ . . . my aim has been to write good, elevating music with words and melodies pure and clean, but not so difficult as to be beyond the ability of the masses.”

He is perhaps best known, however, for the hymns he composed. Still a favorite today, Thompson’s “Softly & Tenderly, Jesus is Calling,” had at one time been translated into more languages than any other hymn. Upon his deathbed, Dwight Moody, a popular evangelist of the time reportedly told Thompson, “Will, I would rather have written ‘Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling’ than anything I have been able to do in my whole life.”

The hymn was sung in the 1985 Academy Award-winning movie, Trip to Bountiful.

Thompson was educated in East Liverpool schools before continuing his education at Mount Union College, where he was graduated in 1870. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music in 1873 and later continued his music studies in Germany.

He opened a small music store where he sold instruments and reed organs. Additionally, he also peddled sheet music door to door throughout many small Ohio communities, earning a sizable income for himself.

Eventually, he built the W.L. Thompson Music Co. store at the corner of Fourth and Washington Streets, which still stands today housing the Pottery City Galleries Antique Mall. During the 1880s, his store was one of the most prominent in the United States with more than 4,000 music teachers ordering songs and supplies from him.

In 1888, Thompson opened a public “reading room” stocked with newspapers and periodicals in a section of the store.

In addition to the music store, Thompson also began a music and publishing company in Chicago.

Beside his interest in the music business, Thompson also was a land developer and owned property throughout the city of East Liverpool, as well as the townships. Among the many properties he owned was a lot on Fifth Street, which for many years housed the J.C. Penny Co., before being sold to SkyBank.

Although an astute businessman, Thompson also was a man of philanthropy. He was the first and most generous donor to the downtown YMCA. He donated the land, stone and half of the funds for the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.

With regard to his land donations, Thompson is probably best known for the acreage he deeded the city for use as a public park, which, today, continues to bear his name. In the fall of 1899, he offered to donate 100 acres of land northeast of the city. At that time, he also deeded to the city the boulevard, which connected Calcutta Road to the park. Additionally, Thompson established a trust fund and stipulated that the city must expend $2,000 for a driveway throughout the park and $600 annually for beautification of the area.

He stipulated that no alcoholic beverages or intoxicated persons be allowed in the park and that no sports or gambling of any sort be permitted on Sundays. In November 1899, city council accepted his terms and the land. Thompson Park opened to the public in the spring of 1900.



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