Penwell Turner Funeral Home - Shelby, Ohio

William E. “Bill” Varble

“A good coach can change a game; a great coach can change a life.”  Truer words could not better exemplify William E. Varble- longtime Shelby resident and highly respected coach and teacher. Bill passed peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 at The Echelon of Medina where he resided. He was 92.

Born in Louisville, KY on April 17, 1931 to the late William E. and Eva Kathryn (Leitner) Varble, Bill graduated from Louisville’s Male High School in 1949. He went on to attend Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and science while playing football, basketball, and baseball in 1954. Following graduation and promising his wife, Bette (Rudolph) Varble, that they “would only be here for a couple of years”, they together moved to Shelby in 1954. Bill would go on to dedicate his life to teaching and coaching at both the Junior and Senior High in Shelby for over 31 years. It was in Shelby that he built a legacy in both his professional and personal life where he and Bette raised their four children.

Referred to fondly as “Coach” by those whom he had coached and many he did not, Bill coached baseball, track, and football. Throughout his career his accomplishments were extensive even beyond the sports he was directly involved with. He played an instrumental role in getting the first Athletic Levy passed to build the tennis courts, baseball diamond, and the all-weather track. He also was successful in influencing the Board of Education to recognize cross country as a varsity sport. However, he was most recognized for his dedication to the football program. As an assistant coach from 1954-1972, he then became head coach from 1973-1984. During this time, Coach had a record of 90 wins, 29 losses, and 1 tie while winning four NOL titles. For 10 years, he was a two-sport coach- both football and track. While part of Shelby athletics, he was part of 23 NOL championships.

In recognition for his accomplishments throughout his life, Bill was inducted into the Male High School’s Hall of Honor in 2001, Wittenberg University’s Athletic Hall of Honor in 2005, and, in 2007, the scoreboard at the Skiles Field was dedicated to his legacy- an honor that transferred to the new scoreboard at the brand-new Shelby Whippet Athletic Complex in 2022. Coach was also inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016- a great honor and is a member of the Shelby High School Hall of Distinction.

Bill was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church of Shelby where he had been Sunday School Superintendent for many years, appreciated taking trips, and enjoyed watching his grandchildren and extended family participate in their extracurricular activities. He was a pillar of the community and was always willing to go beyond the classroom and athletic field to help young men and women achieve their potential.

In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Bette (Rudolph) Varble, and brother-in-law, John Morgan.

His survivors include his children: Ked (Deborah) Varble of Bluffton, South Carolina, Denise Rinehart of Tiffin, Todd Varble of Beverly Hills, CA, and Brad Varble of Comer, GA; 5 grandchildren: Jennifer (Mike) Swick, Heather (Elliott) Asch, Matt Varble, Kristen (Chris) Krebs, and Derek (Mallory) Rinehart; 11 great grandchildren: Tyler, Will, Alyssa, Ellie, Bennett, Avery, Natalie, Logan, Makenzie, Grady, and Madelyn; his sister: Kay Morgan of Louisville, KY; and loving companion of 15 years, Carol Edgar, of Medina, and her family.

Family and friends are welcome on Monday, July 10, 2023 from 4-7 PM at the Penwell Turner Funeral Home, 168 West Main Street, Shelby. Funeral services will be on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 10:30 AM at First United Methodist Church, 18 South Gamble Street, Shelby with Rev. Jeffrey Croft officiating. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery, Shelby. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Shelby Whippet Athletic Boosters, c/o Cathy Dodge, 145 Mansfield Avenue, Apt. #7, Shelby, Ohio 44875, First United Methodist Church, or a charity or the donor’s choosing.

Online condolences may be expressed on Bill’s obituary on the funeral home’s website,, or their Facebook page,

Memories & Condolence

  1. Tom Adams says:

    RIP Coach Varble, although we met later in life I remember the good conversations we had after our racquetball games which I could not win with your wicked left handed swing.

  2. Larry Frontz says:

    Ked & Todd, so sorry to hear of the passing of your father(Coach) I will cherish the memories of him God bless all of your loved ones . ✝️✝️✝️

  3. Megan Russell Shook says:

    What a great man and beautiful tribute! While I certainly knew him since I was a Lady Whippet, I was also blessed to know him from church. During my college years, I was a lucky recipient of his homemade pies. My deepest sympathies on your loss.

  4. Eddie Parsons says:

    Ked, Todd, Brad, and Denise you have my condolences on the loss of your Dad. He was a great teacher, coach,neighbor, and friend . I remember a time we were at Ledgens and I had a t-shirt on that my grandkids gave me that said Worlds Greatest Grandfather. Your Dad said that is wrong your Dad is.

  5. Ann Imhoff says:

    So very sorry for the loss of your father. He was a wonderful man!! We lived behind Varbles when they lived on Fouth Street and we were on Third St. My son Tom and Todd became friends and Bill would try to teach them football!! I was in a lot of clubs with Bette and had so much fun together as family!! Prayers for all of you!!

  6. Bob & Viki Deruy says:

    Our condolences to Todd, the Varble family & close friends. Rest in peace, Coach

  7. Steve Baird says:

    Todd: sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. May th

  8. Steve Baird says:

    Todd: sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He was truly a Shelby legend. May the many good memories comfort you and your family during this difficult time. Thinking of you. Steve Baird

  9. Mark Miller says:

    To a great man and respected adversary – we in Willard held Coach Varble in the highest regard. I remember his sincere handshake after we beat Shelby (a rare event) in 1979 like it was yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family – his legacy is pure class! Mark Miller – Willard High School Class of 1980.

  10. Karen Lafferty Hendricks says:

    Bill Varble was a long-standing family friend. Bill was hired by my father, if I recall, and their friendship remained until my father ‘s death. They hunted together.

    One time many years ago he and his family of small children came and lived with us a few days in crisis when their house flooded. It was more like camping in our home given the size of our house and the size of his family. Through this experience we bonded with Bill and Bette.

    My fondest memory was working for Bill as a lifeguard at the public swimming pool. He managed it in the summers and therefore managed and interacted with all the teenagers who worked and hung out there.

    Bill was special is his ability to bridge to teenagers. He was straight with you but kind.
    While having not experienced him as a coach myself, I admired him as a man of principle as a teacher and as a member of my church.

    He set a standard for living his values and using his influence for good.

    Bill fought the good fight, finished the race, and remained faithful, and now the prize awaits him. Well done, good and faithful servant of our Lord.

    You will be missed but never forgotten .

    Sincerely, …Karen Lafferty Hendricks

  11. Gary Seals says:

    Thanks for the memories. Rest In Peace Coach

  12. Ellen Lawrence says:

    It was my honor and pleasure to work with Bill for many years. I considered him . friend and colleague. His life was well lived.
    My condolences to Carol and the family

  13. Sherrie Dennis says:

    Bill, was a dear sweet man and an inspiration to so many. I had the honor of having him visit my home in Charleston with his dear friend, Carol Edgar. He was a joy to listen to telling of many tales of his coaching days and then of Carol’s grandchildrens’ sports events. He was a treasure to all who met him.

  14. Ed and Jean Russell says:

    Varble Family and Carol:

    Jean and I are sad to learn about Coach passing. He was an icon in the history of Shelby Schools and a damn good man. Although I did not attend Shelby Schools, and he was not my coach, I never called him by any other name. Nothing else seemed appropriate. Rest in peace Coach.

  15. Randy and Beth Terman says:

    Our deepest sympathy to Coach Varbles family. He was a respected coach and honorable man who influenced so many. May he rest in peace for a job well done. Shelby will never forget him.

  16. Tom Catherwood says:

    So sorry to hear of Coach’s passing. He was a good, kind man.

  17. Nancy Parsons Schmidt says:

    Dear Ked, Denise, Todd and Brad, you have my deepest sympathy for your loss of your father. He was great coach and teacher and a wonderful neighbor. May you all have wonderful memories of your dad. R.I.P. Bill.

  18. Mic Kempf says:

    To Todd and family-

    Although I only had Coach Varble for Phys Ed and the occasional study hall, I saw his influence within the school system. You and I were classmates of 1977. My most sincere condolences go out to you. My family will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    Mic Kempf
    Class of 77

  19. Bruce Davis says:

    Coach was always tough but fair, both in teaching and coaching, as well as generous with his time when appropriate. A true mentor for generations of Shelby grads.

  20. Jordyn (Parrigan) Paratore says:

    So sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. Bill was an amazing man and will be missed dearly. I first met Bill and Bette at church and they became mentors to me. After Bette passed, Bill continued to cheer me on at sporting events and became like family to my family and I. The Shelby community was lucky to have him.

  21. Dave and Sandy Parsons says:

    Ked,Denise,Todd,Brad and family, Sandy and I want to express our deepest sympathy on the loss of you father. Your dad was not only my coach for football and track, he was a friend, one of my teachers and made me a better person!
    Rest in Peace Coach!!

  22. Pam and Larry Baldridge says:

    Coach Varble was a father, role model and mentor to me. I was honored to play for him in football and track and coach with him at Shelby High School from 1972-79. Pam and I offer our condolences to Bill’s family. He will always be remembered for his kindness and dedication to the Shelby Whippet athletic program.
    Pam and Larry Baldridge

  23. Joe Schroeder says:

    Coach was a great coach and man. He was instrumental in my growth as one of his defensive ends which led to a college football scholarship. Later when I began coaching I would use his drills every practice. My sympathy to your entire family.

  24. Rick and Susan Fisher says:

    We are so sorry to hear about the passing of Coach Varble. He was truly a “leader of boys and a maker of men”. He influenced so many young people through both his teaching and coaching and was so highly respected throughout the community We will always remember him—thank you Coach (Rick Fisher and Susan)

  25. Christi (Faust) Menke says:

    My sincere condolences to you and your family…

  26. Linda Mitchell Krietemeyer says:

    Just saw obit for your dad. Sorry to hear. He was an icon for the town.
    Linda Mitchell (Krietemeyer).

  27. Janet Bertke Theaker says:

    My heartfelt condolences at the loss of your Dad. I knew him more as the father of my freshman boyfriend than as the successful coach and citizen he was. What a wonderful contributor to life in Shelby for so many years.

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