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University of Missouri

A Classic Kadlec Will Lead the Parade

John Kadlec, better known as “Mr. Mizzou,” is the 2012 Homecoming grand marshal.

John Kadlec

John Kadlec helped put into words 16 football seasons for the Tiger Radio Network. Now “Mr. Mizzou” accepts the Mizzou Alumni Association’s invitation to be Homecoming’s grand marshal in 2012. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

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J

ohn Kadlec has enjoyed a comprehensive view of Tiger football throughout eight decades. As an offensive lineman, he earned All-Big Seven honors in 1950. He served as an assistant under coaches Don Faurot, Frank Broyles, Dan Devine and Al Onofrio.

But the Mizzou Hall of Famer is most widely known as the Tiger Radio Network’s color commentator, a position he reluctantly accepted as a one-time favor to former Athletics Director Joe Castiglione. It was 1995. Analyst Kellen Winslow, BES ’87, had unexpectedly resigned days before the season opener. Castiglione was in a pinch.

“I told him I would do one game but to find somebody else in the meantime,” says Kadlec, BS Ed ’51, M Ed ’52, of Columbia. He ad-libbed his way through the broadcast, after which Castiglione informed him that he had found Winslow’s replacement. “I asked, ‘Do I know the guy?’ ” says Kadlec. “He said, ‘Yeah … it’s you.’ ”

Nine bowl games and two coaches later, he retired from broadcasting in 2011. Kadlec remains a part-time special assistant to the athletic director with an office in Mizzou Arena, an area that was nothing more than a hilltop when he first arrived in 1947.

Faurot, who reportedly wasn’t enthusiastic about transfer students, liked Kadlec based on the recommendation of St. Louis University Coach Dukes Duford. Kadlec had dropped out of SLU but not before meeting his wife of 60 years, Dolly Kadlec, who died March 23, 2011.

“I was in Columbia maybe three days before Missouri hit me, and I really enjoyed it,” Kadlec says. “Anything I have accomplished has been the result of Missouri. Even though I met my wife at SLU, I know I strengthened my relationship with her by going to Missouri. She inspired me to make something of myself.”

Although Kadlec spent two stints on the coaching staff at Kansas State University, the pull of the black and gold proved too powerful, and he returned to CoMo.

So what are Mr. Mizzou’s cherished Homecoming memories? There’s his favorite game in the booth — the Tigers’ 2010 win against the Oklahoma Sooners. And there’s his first Homecoming in 1947, capped by the big dance in Rothwell Gymnasium with his partner whom he still lovingly calls “the Doll.”

The couple’s children urged the modest Kadlec to accept the grand marshal honor.

“They said, ‘You should do it, Dad. You are Missouri all the way.’ ”