Sam Barnhouse would have been humbled and surprised that a new Hillsboro City Schools athletic facility was named in his honor, his family said Monday just after the new Sam Barnhouse Center was officially dedicated.
The nearly 14,000-square-foot facility is located behind the Hillsboro Middle School and officially opened for use in January. It houses a wrestling room with plenty of space for two full mats, a workout area with numberous workout machines, an office, training room, two locker rooms with showers, a restroom, a changing room and more.
“Oh, he would have been so excited. He would think it’s so cool,” Barnhouse’s wife, Lisa, said after a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the wrestling portion of the facility. “But the biggest thing is that he would have been happy the kids have this facility. He wanted the kids to have great facilities like this and the other ones like the track and soccer field.”
She said her late husband would have been so surprised that school officials decided to name the facility after him that surprised might not be a strong enough word.
“He would be very humbled, too. I would say it would have surprised and shocked him,” said Sam’s son, Will.
Lisa said Sam would have also been touched by all the kindness the Hillsboro City Schools and others have shown his family since he passed away.
A Wellston native, Sam Barnhouse died Sept. 11, 2016. He was 66.
Barnhouse spent 35 years as a Hillsboro teacher, administrator and coach. He retired in 2007 and at the time of his death was serving his second term as a member of the Hillsboro Board of Education. He was also involved heavily in the Masons and a longtime football official.
During Monday’s ceremony, Hillsboro Middle School Principal Joe Turner said that since the Sam Barnhouse Center opened nearly 200 Hillsboro students have taken advantage of it.
Superintendent Jim Smith said Barnhouse dreamed of creating facilities where Hillsboro students could learn to excel. He said the building’s legacy will be a rebirth of Hillsboro athletic success and that because of the building, “for the first time in years kids are working to be bigger, strong and faster.”
“The reason it was named the Sam Barnhouse Center is because there wasn’t a more giving, big-hearted person in Hillsboro than Sam Barnhouse,” Smith added. “He dedicated his career to the kids of Hillsboro.”
Speaking to the Barnhouse family during the ceremony, school board president Bill Myers said, “I just want to say how much Sam meant to us as a board member and in so many other ways.”
Hillsboro High School Principal Jason Snively said the ceremony was not in honor of the new building, but “to the person whose name is on front of it. … My hope is that when our students walk into this facility they will put the same heart and soul into this school district as Sam did.”
Myers previously told The Times-Gazette that not long after Barnhouse’s death he started thinking about how the school could honor him, came up with the idea of the name of the athletic building, then called the other board members one night to see what they thought. He said he originally thought of naming it the Barnhouse Building, but then talked to Lisa, who said the family would be happy with however the school decided to honor her husband, but thought it would be nice to include his first name since that’s how everyone knew him.
“I think he’d chuckle,” Myer said at the time in explaining how Barnhouse would likely react. “But I think he’d be honored, too, because that’s the way Sam was. He’d be like, ‘Oh, no,’ but I think he’d think it was an honor. I think it’s a great way to honor his time and dedication to the students, and something that will live on.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.