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Coach Habenicht was the greatest man I have even known, he meant so much to me and so many others.  Coach you are the greatest and I will never forget what you did for me.  I will miss you

Shawn Smith
Class of 2000


I am proud member of Mervin’s Bulldog Nation. I have known Coach Hab since I was in first grade. Merv was just like an Uncle to me, as was Evelyn, my aunt. We shared two undefeated state championship seasons and so much more: passing camps, summer fitness, Driver's Ed session w/ Al Perales as co-pilot, wrestling practice, football practice, team picnics, coaches outings, golfing after two-a-day practices, film/tape sessions, Village Inn post game sessions, and of course HyVee dinners & breakfasts. Most importantly he was one of my dad’s best friends, even more so after their coaching careers. His love and compassion for others will remind with me and my family our entire life. Peace.

Steve Lavelle
Class of 1989
Tight End


A great teacher and coach. My driver's education instructor out in the field with his foot poised over the secondary brake pedal for our protection. Thank you for keeping us all safe.

Melissa Korthaus McCulloch
Class of 1995


Generations of young men who came through Bettendorf High School are indebted to Coach Habenicht.  We looked in the mirror and saw a boy.  Hab looked at us and saw Champions.  Thank you Coach.

Weston Kieschnick
Class of 1999
Defensive End

Thank you for the wonderful memories, football seasons and driving lessons.  My late husband Keith Lucier, enjoyed playing Bettendorf Footbal for you more then you know.  You will truely be missed.

Jennifer Kelser (Lucier)
Class of 1998

Though I didn't have him as a coach or a teacher while I was at the old Bettendorf High School in the mid 1960's.  I knew Coach Habenicht was a fine person because of the friends that he had there.  His associates at BHS were the ones that I respected the most.  I got to know him a bit on a personal level over the years since.  He was a good guy.


J. Douglas Miller
Class of 1967

My prayers go out to the Habenicht family... he was a great role model for every student and player he taught and coached.  He built a great program at Bettendorf that not only focused on winning football games, but it also taught me the importance of trust, friendship and having fun.  I feel honored to have know Coach Hab and again, my prayers go out to his family.

Bill Dockery
Defensive Back
Class of 1990


Thanks Merv for being such a strong leader of men. Your ability to get most out of young athletes while teaching life lessons at the same time will always be invaluable. Thanks Coach.

Jeff Smith
Class of 1985
Strong Safety

Bettendorf Football IS Merv Habenicht! is the core and strength of BHS! He is loved by all of us and will be missed, but never forgotten for the role he played in our success!

Mona Patterson Blake
Class of 1972

It was great playing for you and your stories will be told for generations to come. Thanks for the help on the field and in the classroom.  I learned a lot from you :) .

Mike Miller
Class of 1999

Coach, you always treated me like an adult, never talking down to me. Even as a high school kid, it made me feel like we were friends and that you cared about my future.  You have shown this to be true by a long standing relationship that I have always cherished. God bless you and your whole family.

John Lay
Class of 1972


The Habenicht's moved in to our neighborhood when Merv first came to teacher in Bettendorf schools. I  came to meet Nan and enjoyed playing at their home as a young child.  In high school he was the best history teacher and help me find my love of history. Also he was the best driver's ed teacher.  I remember when I was driving he slammed on his brake as I was about to go through a yellow light.  I didn't know him during coaching days but as a teacher I enjoyed Mr. Habenicht very much.  God bless his family during these times.

Jackie (Duncan) Holecek
Class of 1972

Mr. Habenicht: you were one of my favorite teachers because you always asked a football-related question on your tests. I often got them correct because I paid attention to the football games as a cheerleader and as Gary Campbell's little sister. G ary and my prayers are with you and your family!

Debbi Campbell
Class of 1972

I remember Merv as my driver's ed teacher.  One time while pulling out from gravel road to pavement, the car spun out and squealed the tires.  Merv's only reaction was to say, "Ok Tom, let's have someone else drive now."  Always a cool gentleman.  Peace to the whole family.

Tom Rhomberg
Class of 1975

Though I didn't have you in class, I respected what you stood for and represented at Bettendorf High School. It was always good to see you in the years that have passed since my graduation. It was guys like you, who made BHS, the place that it was, to guys like me, who benefited from going there. We are all thinking of you and your family.

Doug Miller
Class of 1967

There never was a man I respected more than Merv, he made me believe in myself, taught me the values of teamwork, attitude, pride, never quitting and hard work, lessons that I have used everyday in my life.  Merv made all us better men as well as football players....God bless us Merv.

Brad Tharpp
Class of 1975

I was not a foot ball player, but had Coach Habenicht as my typing teacher... I could never type a lick, but this man showed such patience and tolerance with a young girl who was all thumbs.  Thank you Hab for showing me that teachers were not to be feared!

Debbie Van Keuren-St John
Class of 1974

I have many wonderful memories of Coach Habenicht, first introduced to me as Bobby's Dad in 1968. Years later, he brought out the best in my brother Kip. (Linebacker '75) Merv Habenicht is a legend and a treasure.

Kim Knoblauch Yates
Class of 1974

Hab, an Icon to many of us in Bettendorf , is best served in the memories I had of him as a Drivers Ed teacher, taking us to lunch, buying us donuts--and in return, Ron and I moving some furniture for his wife or swinging through the bank so he could take care of some business.

On the field, he was always in control and I think a lot of those time and take those memories with me to every game I watch and think of them every time I touch the rock walking in to the stadium.m.

Some people will remember him as a Coach or Teacher, I like to think of him as a Craftsman; he was a maker of men... the likes of which is not often seen anymore.

Brandon Skahill
Class of 1994
Strong Safety

I could go on forever in this tribute but there are no words to express how much Coach Habenicht has meant to me in my life!!! There are so many lessons that I learned!!!  I am truly blessed to have been taught, coached, and befriended by Coach Habenicht. I t would be very hard pressed to find a better human being or beings (loving wife, Evelyn) on this planet earth.

If and when Coach is called to come home, it will be a very sad day in Bulldog Nation!!!

Tavian Banks
Class of 1993
Running Back

Coach Merv Habenict will forever remain in the souls of Bettendorf Bulldog Football Nation as well as in my hurting heart.  We can all think of the many, many, many wonderful things that he and Evelyn did that brought joy in to all of our lives. One day will always remain in my heart and I will never forget, nor allow my kids to forget, the day Merv pulled me out of class the spring of my sophomore year and asked me to join the football program as a Flanker. 

What people don’t remember or didn’t know is that I didn’t play football my freshman or sophomore year and with every fiber in my body, I can proudly hold my head up in announcing that a 5 minute conversation with Merv literally changed my entire life as well as our family's life too.


LaVance Banks
Class of 1989
Wide Receiver

I never played for Mr. Habenicht, but had the honor of having him as a teacher.  He is the true meaning of what a mentor, and coach should be. He represented what the teaching staff at BHS was, respectful, caring, and intelligent.

Thank you Coach for everything. Prayers go out to you and your family!y!

Craig Collins
Class of 1993

It's a rare opportunity to see one's parents as your heroes. I carry so many gifts that have been lent to me from my folks. Over the years, there was always somebody at our kitchen table being fed, tutored or sporting clothes and a pair of dress shoes to the prom.

Not to mention, sage advice.

My mother cooked their favorite meal topped off by their favorite dessert or brought cookies to practice.

I witnessed their generosity of spirit for decades.

In these times of a jaundiced eye looking upon the "big business" component of sports, my father always exercised his Midwestern sensibilities. When the football season was closing, he was on the phone for weeks placing kids in colleges where they could succeed be it a junior college or university.  Most were monkey branched to be under wing by one of his buddies at the college level.

In tandem with a remarkable coaching staff, great teams were crafted.  This is not done by running drills. The teams had heart and soul. When the Bulldogs had secured a sure victory he emptied the bench and those that were not on the first string, played the fourth quarter.

I would make the joke, that it was time to put in the cheerleaders.  All were afforded the favorable circumstances to be apart of the Bettendorf Football experience.

He never was compelled to skunk another team with the rare exception in the dome striving for the state championship when Tavian Banks played.  I was on the field with him when he shook hands with the opposing team's coach.  He apologized for racking up points on the scoreboard but, qualified it by stating he only allowed it to be, so Tavian could set state records.

When I watched the movie "The Blindside" I couldn't but help think that my parents did the same for scores of young men. My parents went beyond on any thing expected from a coach and his wife and thus, I believe in magic.

Being a mentor is a heavy responsibility in the fact that one's objective is to help a youngster develop a moral compass. My parents personify the essence of mentoring in vivid colors, they are a great team.

Nan Habenicht Cord
Class of 1973

I am the youngest daughter of Earl Page.  I remember our family helping your family move to Bettendorf.  My father passed away in 2009 and in reliving his years prior to that, had many kind things to say about you.  You truly live what you preach.

Paula Peat Page Martin
Class of 1970

It was my honor to have Merv (I'm 66 years old now so I guess I can call him Merv!) as a football and wrestling coach.  Although I didn't know he had a sense of humor until Wayne Cheramy's surprise birthday party!!!  Love ya, Mr. Habenicht!

Bob Schultz
Halfback/Guard, 183 lbs

I coached with Merv when he first became the head coach at Bettendorf. I worked as both the freshmen wrestling and head freshmen football coach and then went to a bitter rival, Clinton.  In all the time I have known Merv and his family, he is truly one of the most caring people I have ever met.  I learned a ton about coaching from this living legend.  While at Clinton my respect of him grew even more:  Merv made Bettendorf football the program that it is today.  Any player that ever played for him was very fortunate to have that experience.  I think of him as a second father... enough:  GO BULLDOGS!

Dennis Pelisek
Assistant Football Coach

Merv, I'm glad I moved back to B-Town.  Thank you so much for all you do.  Not just for me, but for the many folks you touch and help. It's a better world because of you. The past few years have really been a hoot and anytime you need something feel free to call.  Your whole family has always made me feel welcome.  You can count on me now Merv--I think my mononucleosis days are over! Sorry for the let down in '78. I think we should have won State that year.  Bruce #12

Bruce Fosdyck
Class of 1979

Mervin, I loved being your secretary for all those years as you and Evelyn are the role models of Bulldog fans. Thank you for letting Pat and I be part of your extended family.

Sandie Sprague

I knew Merv earlier before high school through his son Bobby and he always struck me as fun but hard working and serious when he needed to be.  My first year at varsity with Merv I will never forget:  he was pissed at us during blocking drills with a running back going through our holes.  He was mad at me for getting blocked so easily, so to prove his point that it wasn't that hard to beat a block, he took his RED PRIDE LOGO baseball cap, turned it backwards, and challenged me in the drill.  I was pissed and embarrassed about being called out so I fired out as hard as I ever had, put my--he never gave on me and kept me working until I got it right.  For that I always be grateful:  for the lesson that hard work, determination, and never giving up means.

Brad Tharp
Linebacker/Left Guard
Class of 1974

There are so many great moments and memories with Coach Habenicht.  Coach Hab has left an impression on every person that he has coached and taught.  I was lucky enough to have had Coach Habenicht as a teacher, a coach, and for Drivers Ed.  He is a remarkable man and will always be loved by everyone who knows him.  I still see Coach Habenicht around town, at church, or HyVee for breakfast breakfast and we still have a lot to talk about every time I see him.  Thank you Coach Habenicht for being a great role model and leader:  you're the best!  And to quote Coach Scott, "When Mervin was born they must have thrown away the mold."  Perfectly said, Coach Scott, because there is only one Coach Habenicht!

Ken Koehler
Defensive End
Class of 1990

Merv's football record speaks for itself. He, like many other great coaches, has versatility.  My tribute comment has to do with his record as a freshman wrestling coach. Merv has to be the greatest freshman wrestling coach of all-time.  His contribution to Bettendorf's wrestling program during the "Freeman era"--along with coaches McCutcheon, Glenn, Paustian, Castro, and Boyton-- led to several state championships in his "other sport".  Most teams would have been lucky to have Merv as their varsity head coach.... think of how great it was for us to have him at the freshman level.

Kevin Rose
Class of 1976

Coach Habenicht:

I just wanted to say that even now, nearly 20 years later after my last season playing for you (and the other great coaches I had like Randy Scott, John Lavelle, Dave Hodam, and Tom Freeman), I still remember the lessons you taught me--on and off the field.  Most certainly, you still are a role model and legend... not just for what you accomplished as a football coach, but also as a teacher and person.

John W. Elkin

Class of 1990