Lantz leaves legacy at Southern and beyond

Hobie Brown

Through the mid 1990s, when the Missouri Southern football program was mentioned, one couldn’t help but mention the man at the helm, Jon Lantz.Second only to Jim Frazier in wins at Southern, Lantz passed away Saturday, March 3.His passing leaves behind more than just a rich history of the 18 years he spent roaming the sidelines as a coach.”Jon Lantz represents an era we are proud of,” said University athletics director Sallie Beard. “He was excellent on the field and he cared for his players.”In his nine years as Lions’ head coach, Lantz led Southern to a 51-35-1 record, posting a .592 winning percentage during his tenure and leading the team to the MIAA championship in 1993. That was also the last year the Lions defeated the Pittsburg State University Gorillas.”What defines Lantz was the legacy he left,” Beard said. “We look back on his time here with a great deal of pride. Some of the players he coached were the best and brightest.”Those players include Richard Jordan, a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1997, Rod Smith, a free agent with the Denver Broncos in 1994, and James Thrash, a free agent with the Washington Redskins in 1997.After leaving the program in 1997, Lantz joined the staff of Ozark Christian College as director of student development in 1998.”Jon Lantz was a man of deep faith, strong in his commitment to the lifestyle taught and modeled by his Lord, and as a result Jon was exemplaryin character,” said Greg Hafer, executive vice president of OCC. “His service as director of student development at Ozark Christian College was consistent with all of his professional life. He provided excellent leadership and was respected and loved by those whom he led and by his coworkers.”In 2001, Lantz left OCC to serve as vice president of student services at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Okla.”We were sorry to see Jon leave the college when he accepted the opportunity to provide leadership in the area of student services at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M,” Hafer said. “We knew they were gaining a good administrator and a fine man. “The entire OCC family aches on behalf of Charlene and Jon’s son, Paul. They have lost a loving husband and father and we have lost a dear friend. The news of Jon’s untimely death was very hard to hear, but we are thankful for his life and witness and the legacy of faith that he leaves.”Whether he was making an impact on or off the field, Lantz left the people he touched with something they will never forget.”He left a very lasting impression and a legacy that we are all proud of,” Beard said.Services for Lantz are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 7 at College Heights Christian Church.