Alex will be remembered for his welcoming smile, his vision in co-founding the KofC Basketball League, and his dedication to our Veterans
If you or your kids played grade school basketball in either the K of C League back in the 70s and 80s, or presently the Campbell County Parochial Basketball League, thank Bud Gubser and Alex Futscher for getting that ball rolling.
As a youngster growing up in Alexandria during the late 50s and early 60s, Knothole Baseball was alive and well, but there were no organized basketball leagues or opportunities, until you reached high school, and even then, only JV and Varsity teams competed.
During the late 60’s Alex Futscher and Bud Gubser, members of the Knights of Columbus #5220, formed the first organized grade school basketball league for 7th and 8th Grade Boys, using the St. Mary Youth Center, affectionately known as “The Barn” as its base of operations. Herb Birkenhauer served as the League Director. In the early seventies, Chuck Peters and I (Dave Schabell), who both coached teams in the league, joined Herb and took the league to the next level, conducting All-Star Games and post-season tournaments, and published a weekly newsletter with league standings and a summary of the previous week’s games. We eventually won a berth for our league champion in the Diocesan Tournament, conducted annually at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington. Newport Catholic had an organized basketball league, and our two biggest grade schools, St. Mary and St. Joe, Cold Springs, had 7th and 8th Grade teams in both leagues.
By 1973 Alexandria Elementary housed our league and we established a four team 5th and 6th grade boys league to supplement our 7th ad 8th Grade League and provide our smaller schools a feeder program to develop basketball players. There was no girls basketball anywhere at this time, simply because there was no demand for it. Eventually, the KofC League, under strong urging and support from Herb Birkenhauer, our League Director, who had daughters of his own, we became the first league in Northern Kentucky to form a 7th and 8th Grade Girls basketball league.
Throughout all of these formative years Alex Futscher remained involved and was our liaison to the KofC, lending financial support and muscle, when needed. In the late seventies our council won the State Youth Activity Award, which was no small feat, for their sponsorship and involvement in the KofC Basketball League. It is still one of our council’s major recognized accomplishments.
In 1986 the Brossart Gymnasium was completed, which prompted the merger of the KofC League and the Newport Central Catholic 7th and 8th Grade Girls and Boys Leagues. The 5th and 6th League was spun off to St. Joe, Cold Spring, where Lee Kessen was the director. Although I had remained involved in the KofC League, I then served as Brossart’s Freshman Boys coach, and at the time of the merger, our Varsity Girls coach. Chuck Peters had remained a coach in the league, and he and I became “emeritus” directors of the newly formed league, but eventually it would be Jeff Schulkens from NCC, and Chris Holtz from Brossart, who would become the actual CCPBL directors, and continue to serve in those capacities today.
Alex Futscher, true to his KofC roots was hesitant to endorse the merger, but with the growth in our community and the availability of two high school gymnasiums, eventually agreed that it was the right thing to do.
Alex, a Korean War veteran, remained a passionate patriot, and was well-known as an attendee and organizer of the local Honor Flight movement, which provided World War II and Korean War veterans the opportunity to visit the respective war memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge, as honored guests. Unique to these trips were that groups of veterans were on hand along with bands and fan-fare for each departure, arrival and return. You could count on Alex personally, being in the front row cheering the departing and returning veterans.
Alex worked for 41 years as a milkman at Trauth Dairy in Newport, and then 25 years at the Alexandria Funeral Home. As you have attended other’s funerals at the Alexandria Funeral Home it was likely that Alex Futscher held the door for you or welcomed you. It was he who probably pushed a friend or loved one up or down the aisle during a funeral mass.
Alex passed away this past Friday at 90 years of age. He was a fixture at both St. Mary and the City of Alexandria. We are indebted to Alex, Bud Gubser, and Herb Birkenhauer for getting the ball rolling, in humble surroundings, for providing the youth of our community with the opportunity to embark on their basketball careers at a young age, and to Alex, who never missed a Veterans Day pageant, for his passion and dedication to the KofC Basketball League, as well as for his service to our country and dedication to our veterans.