During his nearly four-decade career as a teacher and coach and administrator for the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), the priority for Orv Bies was the welfare of student-athletes.
“He really cared about kids,” said former MSHSL executive director Dave Stead.
Bies, a member of five coaching or athletic halls of fame, died on April 17. Bies, of Anoka, was 93.
After teaching and coaching at the high school level for 19 years and two years at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., Bies joined the MSHSL staff in 1970 as an assistant director.
“When he first started working for the MSHSL, he oversaw the boys sports, Dorothy [McIntyre] oversaw the girls sports and Marv Helling handled eligibility issues,” said Stead. “They were the mainstays. They, and executive director Murrae Freng, did everything.”
After Freng retired on Feb. 1, 1985, Bies became the executive director. Bies told the Star Tribune that he wrestled with the decision to apply for the position “partly because of [his] age. But I decided I had contributions I could make to the member schools because of my experience and abilities.”
Bies served as the executive director until early 1988, when he retired for health reasons.
“Late in 1987, he became ill with a viral form of hepatitis,” said Stead, who had joined the MSHSL staff in 1986 and replaced Bies as the executive director.
Stead said Bies’ tenure at the MSHSL was marked by “having quality tournaments for the kids. He was a stickler for details, and he wanted to present the MSHSL in a positive way.”
McIntyre, who was an associate director of the MSHSL for 32 years, said, “In the early years of challenging the stereotypes of girls and women who wanted to play, we found an ally in Orv. He would help us to find keys to unlock the doors to the gymnasiums, pools, fields and arenas. And Orv would challenge anyone who resisted the change that was coming. I, for one, will always appreciate that Orv, his smile and big heart marched alongside us as girls and women began to change the face of the world.”
Bies was born to Leo and Leona Bies on Jan. 22, 1927, in Salem, S.D. He grew up in Marshall, Minn., and after graduating from Marshall High School in 1945, he earned a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
He began his teaching and coaching career at Hibbing, Minn., High School in 1949. In 1961, he coached Hibbing to the boys’ state track and field title. In 1963, he was hired as a teacher and coach by St. Louis Park High School to replace Roy Griak, who had resigned to become the track and field coach at the University of Minnesota.
In his five years at St. Louis Park, he coached the Orioles to state track and field titles in 1965 and 1966. The Orioles also placed third, fourth and ninth at the state meet under Bies.
In 1968, he left St. Louis Park to become an assistant professor of physical education and the coach of the cross-country and track and field teams at St. Olaf.
Bies is a member of the MSHSL, state track and field coaches, USA Minnesota Track and Field, Hibbing High School and St. Louis Park High School halls of fame. In 1988, Bies received USA Track & Field’s President Award.
Bies is survived by his wife, Dolores; son Jim Bies; daughters Martha Hauck and Elizabeth Smith; five grandchildren, and sister Glada Kermeen.
A memorial service will be held at a later date at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka.