Obituary: Wallace “Bud” Tapola

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Posted at 4:12 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 18:12:20-04

Wallace “Bud” Tapola died on Sunday, April 7, 2024 at his home in Bozeman, Montana, peacefully, in the company of family. He was 96 years old.

Bud was born on January 2, 1928 in Painesville, Ohio, to Charles and Elma Tapola. After graduating from Harvey High School, he joined the U.S. Army serving in the Army Corps of Engineers in the South Pacific Theatre from 1946-47. Upon completing his military service Bud attended The Ohio State University earning his Bachelor of Science/Education in 1951. Bud met his future wife (Dorothy) on a blind date in 1952. After a few (awkward sounding!) first dates they realized they’d found their match. They were married in 1955 in Cleveland before relocating to Toledo in the early 1960’s where Bud began working for the Toledo Public schools. He was a proud union member of both the American and Toledo Federation of Teachers.

As a teacher and coach his commitment to both his students and athletes was legendary. Throughout his career he wholeheartedly embraced his roles as mentor, motivator, teacher, and guide. Though Bud coached (enthusiastically) other sports early in his career, his passion was coaching cross country and track. During his 25 years as a coach at DeVilbiss High School, his teams (boys and girls) had a combined duel meet win/loss record of 274 and 54. He coached eight All-Ohio athletes and one Prep All-American. His teams won eight City Championships, nine District Championships, and he led eight teams to the Ohio State Cross Country Championships, winning in 1970, finishing 2nd in 1969 and 3rd in 1972. In 1978, as a supporter of Title 9, he advocated for and developed the girls cross country program at DeVilbiss High school leading them in 1984, to a Toledo City League Championship and a second place finish in the State Championship. In 1970 Bud was named Ohio Coach of the Year and in 1973 he was inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame and the Toledo City League Hall of Fame. Following his retirement from the Toledo Public Schools he continued to coach track and cross country as an Assistant Coach at the University of Toledo.

Bud had a lifelong love of nature and outdoor activities. He was a dedicated distance runner and cross-country skier competing in several marathons and innumerable road races. He was one of the original co-founders of the Toledo Roadrunners. In 1998 at the Masters World Cup (seniors) in Lake Placid, NY he earned a bronze medal in the 15K cross country ski race. He loved fishing trips to the Boundary Waters (MN) and as Supervisor of the Toledo Outward Bound (1968-1972) program, attended three separate Outward Bound schools (ME, CO, MN) in pursuit of experience and knowledge.

Bud was a loving and protective husband to Dorothy, and they shared many adventures during their 67-year marriage. Annual family road and camping trips throughout the Upper Peninsula (MI) and the American West inspired a love and respect for the natural world in their children that continues to resonate today. Later in life the couple made journeys to Alaska, Finland, Slovenia, and British Columbia.

Wallace “Bud” Tapola was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Robert; sister, Carol; his wife, Dorothy; infant son, Robbie; niece, Leeann; and nephew, Tod. He is survived by his son, Bruce (Melba Price) Tapola of St. Paul, MN; daughter, Amy (Tim) Sullivan of Bozeman, MT; grandchildren, Oakley, Grace, Liam, Angus, and Bevan; great-granddaughter, Hazel; sister-in-law, Sandy Tapola; brother-in-law, Frank Mahne; and three nephews and a niece.

Cremation has taken place with Bud and Dorothy’s ashes scattered in a private ceremony. A memorial bench will be placed in their honor at The Toledo Botanical Gardens.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []