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Packer Hall of Fame unites history of football and the city of Green Bay

Sipes unveils a bust of Earl ‘Curly’ Lambeau recently installed at Green Bay East High School to honor his memory as an alum. Tori Wittenbrock photos

By Tori Wittenbrock

Associate Sports Editor

GREEN BAY – On Friday, Sept. 22, Green Bay East High School was gifted a new piece of history.

Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame President Dr. Don Sipes addressed current students and their families at East High on the grounds of City Stadium as he worked to install the first piece of the Legacy Series — a restored bust of Curly Lambeau.

Green Bay East High School Principal Lori Frerk spoke about the school’s longstanding tradition of honoring the Packers.

“We have had the privilege of walking on a path of success for the NFL and for the Packers because one of our beloved alums began and developed that process. That alum was Curly Lambeau.”

East High was first established in 1860 and has been a part of Green Bay history for over 150 years, but has also been a significant part of Green Bay Packer football history as well, being that one of the original founders of the Packers and current namesake of their stadium, Earl ‘Curly’ Lambeau, graduated from the school in 1917.

City Stadium, which now doubles as both a soccer and football field to accommodate the athletes at East High, was one of the original home fields for the Packers.

“Being the principal, I have been able to hold onto the yearbooks and different things, and I have the 1916 yearbook, and that year Curly was actually a junior,” explained Frerk.

“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that back then they would talk about their school’s football season. They were disappointed because at the beginning of their season they experienced some bad luck when their captain, McGrath, slipped and broke his leg putting him out for three weeks. Then they said,’We had another streak of bad luck when Curly Lambeau broke his leg during a scrimmage, two days before our first game. With this incident, we lost one of our best men for the entire season,’” said Frerk as she read from the yearbook.

Sipes explained that by installing this piece of history at City Stadium, it will allow the Packer Hall of Fame and East High to enshrine his memory forever.

“It is appropriate that this is where [Green Bay Hall of Fame Inc.] is starting the Legacy Series, since this is the city where Earl Louis Lambeau played and coached and where the Green Bay Packers were born,” said Sipes.

Packer Hall of Fame President Don Sipes giving a speech
Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame President Don Sipes gives a speech at Green Bay East High School about Curly Lambeau’s impact on football, not only as the namesake of the Packers’ stadium, but also as a graduate of East High.

Sipes noted that the grounds at East High are home to a lot of valuable Packer football history.

“Two fields where Curly played were on this property… There is Hagemeister Park closer to the east river, and then there is City Stadium. The Packers played at Hagemeister from 1919-22, and at City Stadium from ‘25-56.”

Sipes also said that the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Inc. was there for one main reason.

“We are here to honor the history and memory of Curly Lambeau,” siad Sipes.

Although Lambeau spent some time elsewhere during his college years at Notre Dame, Wisconsin always drew him back home.

“Due to illness, he came back to Green Bay [after college] where he became vital to the inception of the Green Bay Packers. He certainly is an iconic figure in Packer history, and for that matter, all of football history,” said Sipes.

The Packer Hall of Fame has been working to establish the Legacy Series within the Green Bay area for a while now, but this first installment at East High has been a big step in their commitment to keep Packer history alive.

“We have a dream to bring the history of the Green Bay Packers to the Green Bay public school system and to all the communities in Wisconsin,” said Sipes.

Sipes acknowledged that the way in which Lambeau’s bust came about was a story as special as their founding.

“The Packers Hall of Fame was moving to a new facility, and while doing this we found three boxes that appeared very old. We opened them and found three different molds… one for Culry Lambeau, one for Vince Lombardi, and one for Bart Starr,” said Sipes. “The problem was they had fallen apart.”

However, the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Inc. was able to call in some professionals for help and ultimately restored the molds to their former glory.

“They picked up the shambles of the mold and created a beautiful bust of Curly Lambeau,” said Sipes.

Sipes explained that the installation of the bust at East would have never been possible without the whole team working behind the Packer Hall of Fame.

“Welcome back to Green Bay East High School, Curly,” said Sipes.

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