Lloyd Lehn, who coached Willmar hockey to a state tourney berth in 1947, dead at 94
WILLMAR - Lloyd Lehn, the last of a legendary line of educator/coaches who came to Willmar in the 1940s, passed away Sunday at age 94, according to his daughter Mary Beth Schmidt of New London.
WILLMAR – Lloyd Lehn, the last of a legendary line of educator/coaches who came to Willmar in the 1940s, passed away Sunday at age 94, according to his daughter Mary Beth Schmidt of New London.
“Dad had lived in his own home until last June when his health really started failing,” said Schmidt. “He went to Copperleaf, in Willmar, then Rice Care Center and hospice at Rice Memorial Hospital a week ago.”
The Navy veteran came to Willmar in 1946. He worked in the junior-high football program under head coach Bill Hansen and assistant Howard Iverson, both of whom had come to Willmar during World War II.
Lehn, who had gone to college in St. Cloud, had some hockey knowledge and ended up mentoring the 1946-47 fledgling high-school hockey program. The ragtag lot encased in salvaged football gear beat Granite Falls in a best-of-three region playoff then lost to Eveleth and St. Cloud in the state tournament at St. Paul.
Despite that lofty accomplishment, hockey was abandoned after two seasons, not to reappear as a varsity sport until 1972-73. Local lore has it that the new basketball coach Chester “Ace” Hoberg, hired away from Mountain Lake, coveted Harlan Brogren, regarded as the school’s top athlete but a hockey player.
Lehn, a science teacher, coached junior-high basketball until 1960 when he broke his leg while working for the highway department over summer. Widowed at mid-career, he raised seven children alone at their home on 10th Street Southwest.
Lehn’s departed coaching peers also include wrestling coach Walter Kokesch; basketball coach Russ Adamson, Hoberg’s successor; athletic director Al Lucas; and track coach and close friend Bob Lehman, who died in 2011.
Funeral arrangements are pending.