January is the busiest month of the year for Bill Marquart, Dutzow. As a volunteer with the St. Francis Borgia Regional High School Athletic Association who is in charge of staffing the gates for eight or more teams across three sports — football, basketball and vollyeball, Marquart is at Borgia nearly every night during the month in January.
On top of the regular season home games he works for nearly all of the boys and girls basketball teams, Marquart also works the three basketball tournaments Borgia hosts each January (not to mention the Turkey Tournament held over Thanksgiving).
It’s a lot, Marquart admits, but he doesn’t mind. He actually enjoys it.
“Working the gates I get to meet all the parents and the new kids who are coming to school. It’s something new every year,” he said.
“Sometimes it takes me the whole season to connect which parents go with which kids,” he said with a laugh.
The Borgia Athletic Association has honored Marquart with several awards for his nearly four decades of volunteering and commitment.
The group has recognized him with their “Man of the Year” award, “Ralph Lause No. 1 Fan Award” and “Lifetime Achievement Award.” And in 2013, they established a scholarship in his name.
This past April, Marquart also was honored by the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association with its Distinguished Service Award for all of his contributions to youth sports.
“Friendly, humble and encouraging” are words local sports fans use to describe Marquart. Chris Arand, the SFBRHS athletic director, adds “reliable, irreplaceable and invaluable” to that list.
“He’s always there, committed to helping the kids and the Athletic Association,” said Arand, who remembers him from his time as the Union High School athletic director and when his two older daughters went through Borgia playing sports.
Marquart is the first friendly face many people see when they come to Borgia for so many of its games.
“He’s just a staple there,” said Arand, and everyone in the Borgia family appreciates him so much for everything he’s done for all these years.
When YY Was a Gravel Road
Marquart was the sixth of seven children born to Bill and Martha Marquart. For much of his childhood, he was the baby of the family, since Marquart was 14 when his youngest brother was born.
The family lived on Hooker Street until Marquart was 6, when they moved to Krakow. They purchased an acre or so of land right next to Krakow Store, “where the parking lot is now,” said Marquart, noting he attended St. Gertrude School.
It was a very happy childhood, Marquart said.
“YY was a gravel road, and we rode our bikes everywhere,” he recalled. “There wasn’t any traffic like there is today.”
From Chicken Houses to Post Office
Marquart attended St. Francis Borgia High School, which then was located where the SFB Grade School is today on Cedar Street. He played basketball his sophomore and junior years and also was on Borgia’s first football team his senior year, 1959-’60.
“We didn’t play but maybe three games,” he said.
After he graduated, Marquart went to work for his uncle, Al Marquart, raising chickens. He managed two of his uncle’s chicken houses, which had 24,000 chickens each.
“It wasn’t too bad of work,” said Marquart. “I could set my own hours. Didn’t make a lot of money though.”
From the chicken houses, he worked a few jobs — Ornametal, Zero Manufaturing (today known as Clemco) and hanging drywall, and also enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves — before he decided to apply at the U.S. Post Office.
“A couple of guys were drafted from there, so they needed help,” said Marquart. “T.W. Sincox hired me.”
Marquart worked as a clerk/carrier for his first 15 years, meaning he mainly worked in the office but would walk a route once in a while.
“Then I switched over to be a full-time carrier on the west end of town,” he said, noting he did that for eight years.
He also had a “mounted” route for a while, meaning he drove a mail truck.
Back in the 1960s, Washington had only one post office, located at Second and Lafayette streets in Downtown Washington. Marquart worked nearly all of his career there.
The new post office on Highway 100 was finished just a few months before he retired.
Looking back on his 35 years as a mailman, Marquart smiles when he thinks of the many nice and funny memories he has, especially delivering mail.
He doesn’t have any bad memories, although he did get bitten by a couple of dogs over the years and the mailbag was sometimes pretty heavy.
“When I had the walking route, and did part of downtown and then walked out west, that’s back when we had two of those free newspapers we delivered, plus The Missourian. That was a load in the bag,” he said with a smile.
The weather was often a factor. He walked in the heat of the summer, some days needing to take water breaks at almost every door, and he walked in the freezing cold of winter, one year wearing his golf shoes with the spikes for three days straight because of ice.
“It was an interesting job. I met some nice people,” said Marquart.
He retired in November 2000.
Married 50 Years
Marquart met his wife, Karen (Voelkerding), through the CYA or Catholic Young Adults group, which had meetings and special events.
Like Bill, she is a Borgia graduate, but she was five years behind him, graduating in 1965 — which is nice because it puts their class reunions in the same year.
The couple dated for about a year before they decided to get married. This November they will celebrate their 50th anniversary.
They were married Nov. 16, 1968 — the first day of deer season. Bill wasn’t a deer hunter, but some in his wedding party were.
“They went hunting that morning before the wedding,” Marquart recalled.
The Marquarts had four children — one boy and three girls:
Gerise Scheer, Ballwin, who is married to Matt Scheer; Aaron Marquart, who is married to Angie, Washington; Tricia Marquart, Dutzow; and Lisa Wolff, who is married to Chris, Lake Saint Louis.
They have eight grandchildren — seven boys and the newest is a girl.
“We go to a lot of ballgames,” Marquart remarked.
A No. 1 Borgia Fan
The Marquarts’ children were still in grade school in the early ’80s when Ralph Lause asked Bill if he would be interested in helping to staff the gates at some of the Borgia high school games. Lause was responsible for finding volunteers to work the gates, and as more than one person has said of Marquart, “He’s a guy who never says no.”
“I was coming to the games and realized he needed help,” said Marquart, humbly.
As his children became Borgia high school students and athletes, Marquart continued to help, and even after they all graduated, he continued on. Today, his grandchildren are among the SFBRHS athletes, and Marquart continues to volunteer.
He works the gates for every home game for freshman and JV football, freshman, JV and some varsity boys basketball, JV and varsity girls basketball, and JV and varsity girls and boys volleyball, plus four basketball tournaments, which are each three nights of games each.
Marquart is good with numbers, but that many games, sports and teams multiplied by more than 35 years is too big a number for him to calculate.
“I have no idea how many games I’ve worked,” he said, with a smile.
Karen said she doesn’t mind him being up at Borgia so much. Very often, she’s there too watching games and cheering on the home team.
The gatekeeper job at school sporting events is one that many parents and students might easily take for granted, but it’s a vital part of being able to offer the sports program at the school.
“The money raised through gate fees helps pay for all the sports — the buses, the uniforms, none of that comes from tuition,” said Marquart, noting the Borgia Athletic Association is a big part of why the school can keep its tuition so much more affordable compared to other Catholic high schools in the St. Louis region.
In addition to working and staffing the gates at games, Marquart also regularly helps at Borgia’s homecoming lunch, grilling bratwursts and hot dogs for teachers and students before the parade.
Dutzow Little League
The Marquarts have lived in Dutzow since 1971 and are longtime members of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
Bill’s love for sports is not limited to Borgia. He’s volunteered with the Dutzow Little Leaque for more than 40 years, since his son Aaron first signed up to play when he was just 5.
Marquart became the league’s “point person,” the man parents called to sign up their children to play.
“We usually have around 100 players, six to eight teams a year,” said Marquart.
In addition to signing up players, Marquart worked to find sponsors and coaches. Now in the computer age, the work has been streamlined quite a bit, as parents register their children to play online.
Yet, Marquart hasn’t completely retired from the league. Now he just works in the concession stand.
Knights of Columbus
Marquart’s other longtime service is to the Washington Knights of Columbus. He has been a member for 57 years and has served as financial secretary for the last 13.
In that role, he’s responsible for sending out dues notices and keeping track of years of service for the annual awards banquet, among other things.
Of all the volunteer service Marquart has done in his lifetime, none is more important to him than his work as a trustee for the Voelkerding Trust, which among other things awards scholarships and grants for students from St. Vincent de Paul School to attend St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.
These scholarships help students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend Borgia pay the tuition, said Marqaurt.
The trust also made a donation to help build the new SFBRHS back in the ’80s.
Looking ahead, Marquart knows there will eventually come a day when he isn’t able to do all of the volunteering he does now. His knees are starting to slow him down, so he doesn’t do as much as he used to in years past.
All of these things — Borgia sports, the Dutzow Little League and the Voelkerding Trust — are important to the community, so they are important to him too.
And as long as he’s able to volunteer, he will continue.