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Archie San Romani

Don’t believe everything you read. As a former newspaper journalist, that statement used to tick me off pretty good. What do you mean, don’t believe everything you read? We’re a NEWS-paper, I used to say. We print news. We print what’s going on. We print the truth. If it wasn’t true, it wouldn’t make the pages of our newspaper. Journalists just don’t make mistakes (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

But, alas, I must confess that I did not do my homework when I wrote a story for the June 2004 Tiger Alumni News. On Page 7, I wrote a story about Archie San Romani and his induction into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. The photograph that accompanied the story is a picture of Archie San Romani. The information in the story is factual about Archie San Romani. Trouble is, the Archie San Romani I wrote about isn’t the same Archie San Romani who was posthumously inducted into the Hall. Are you kidding me? How many Archie San Romanis could there possibly be? It turns out there are three. I admit my research wasn’t as extensive as it should have been. My biggest mistake was not consulting with Terry Eaton (Outstanding Alumna Class of 1955), who undoubtedly would have immediately spotted the error of my ways. My Internet search didn’t uncover anything that I felt was unusual. An excerpt of my findings:

1. Archie San Romani was a part-time instrumental music instructor at Arkansas City Junior College from 1934 to 1941. True. I knew this from looking through old yearbooks and history books about the college.

2. Archie San Romani was one of the most prominent milers in history, setting NCAA records, world records, and qualifying for the 1936 U.S. Olympic team. True. San Romani’s track heroics are well documented. But the Archie San Romani affiliated with the college was not a runner.

3. Archie San Romani grew up in Frontenac, Kan. This is true of two Archie San Romanis, which did nothing but cloud the picture.

4. After a successful career as a business owner and instructor, Archie San Romani died on Nov. 7, 1994, in Fresno, Calif., at age 82. True and false. ACJC’s Archie San Romani was, of course, an instructor, but never a business owner. He died June 15, 1941, just 10 days shy of his 42nd birthday.

The Archie San Romani who was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame was the nephew of ACJC’s Archie San Romani. To complicate matters even more, Cowley’s own Diane Kelly went to Wichita East High School with Archie San Romani II. How many more are there?

ACJC’s Archie San Romani taught instrumental music in Arkansas City for 16 years. After arriving in 1925, San Romani was credited with developing the school system’s large and efficient orchestra, band, and instrumental music organizations from a modest beginning. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1932, and doctors didn’t give him much hope. But San Romani battled the disease for 10 years. There was a fountain erected in front of the auditorium/gymnasium in San Romani’s honor. I don’t know where it is or when the fountain was removed.

David L. San Romani, who lives in Rose Hill, set me straight on the Archie San Romani inducted into the Hall of Fame. That Archie was David’s uncle. Archie San Romani Sr. was born Sept. 17, 1912, and died Nov. 7, 1994. He graduated from Frontenac High School in 1933 and Emporia Teacher’s College (now Emporia State University) in 1937. He is considered one of the best small-college athletes in Kansas history. He had the best mile time in the world in 1936, running 4 minutes, 9 seconds at the Princeton Relays. He owned a jewelry store in Wichita for about 20 years before moving to California to teach music and physical education. He retired in 1977.

This experience has reinforced a lesson I learned more than 20 years ago, and it proves that you can always use a refresher course, no matter how much experience you have. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and I promise to do a more thorough job the next time.

Fall 2004

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