Lyndon football champion celebrates a life of winning – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Lyndon football champion celebrates a life of winning

By Jack Bowen

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. While Americans fought for democracy overseas, a team of Kansas farm boys from the Lyndon area, who would soon join that fight, was finishing an amazing run at the old football field on the north side of Lyndon High School.

The Lyndon team had back-to-back perfect seasons in 1943 and 1944. The only surviving member of that Lyndon Tigers team is 95-year-old Raymond Goldsmith, who now lives on his farm halfway between Lyndon and Quenemo.

“I never knew what it was to lose. Can you imagine?” said Goldsmith recently during an interview at his home.

Raymond played left tackle next to his brother, Curtis, who played guard, both on offense and defense. He said teams learned to never runs plays on the Goldsmith side of the line.

“They didn’t go through our side. If they tried it, they didn’t get very far.”

It wasn’t just the daily practice under school principal and football coach R.B. Wellborn that made them tough as nails. It was also the daily regimen of farm work that started every morning at 5 a.m. for the sons of Clyde and Laura Goldsmith on their farm on the east side of Lyndon. They worked hard and played hard when there was time.

In 2021, Raymond enjoys winning at retired life on his farm east of Lyndon. Courtesy photo.

Goldsmith pointed to a hill there, saying “That’s where me and Curtis and our brother Gerald would use a large grain shovel to sled down the hill when there was snow.”

Who was the toughest team the Lyndon Tigers beat during those two undefeated seasons?

“Oh, Burlingame up here was pretty tough, but they played pretty dirty,” the veteran Tiger said. “That’s the one that knocked the wind out of me – Dad ran out on the field. He thought I was gonna die or whatever.”

Goldsmith said this was back in the days when local teams played only against teams in the county. There was no long distance travel to faraway games. The downside was that teams were often matched against much bigger schools, not only in the number of athletes available, but also in physical size.

“Osage City was a lot bigger than Lyndon, but we beat Osage, and boy, they couldn’t take it,” he remembered.

Goldsmith missed the first part of his last game as a Tiger in 1944. He’d volunteered to join the U.S. Army. Uncle Sam required him to take a physical exam in Leavenworth on the day of that game. He arrived back in Lyndon by bus that afternoon, then walked to get to the field in the fourth quarter.

“Suit up!” ordered Coach Wellborn when he saw Goldsmith.

Goldsmith suited up and the Tigers finished off their opponent just before sunset in that game. Without lights on the field, games were played in the afternoon in those days.

Soon afterward, though, Goldsmith was suiting up again, but this time in an Army uniform at Fort Hood, Texas. He later shipped out to fight the Japanese army in a real, high stakes life and death battle on the island of Okinawa.

After the war, in 1949, Raymond married Ann Bowen in Texas, and brought her back to Kansas, where they’ve been in the farming business for going on 73 years.

So, on the football field, battlefield, farm field, and in his married life, Goldsmith has always found a way to win. Today, thinking back on his old football days, he chuckles and said, “I could suit up again; I just wouldn’t be able to play.” But he said he’ll be ready to suit up and play in Heaven someday – “if there are enough football players up there.”


This video vignette features Raymond Goldsmith, retired Lyndon High School football champion; produced by Jack Bowen.

Jack Bowen is a retired news broadcaster currently living in Texas, and Raymond’s nephew and admirer.

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