Honoring His Homecoming Queen
UPDATE: Our deepest condolences to the Florer family. Harvey made many great contributions to our district and he will be missed. Obituary
When the Valley High School football team sets off to the locker room for halftime of Friday’s Homecoming game, the Homecoming Court will take center stage. The king and queen will be crowned and photos taken for the yearbook. To many, reigning over the second half of the football game and the dance on Saturday would mark the end of their duties. But, as some people know, there is a great honor, tied to a wonderful story of history and generosity, waiting for the Valley Homecoming Queen.
Harvey Florer was a January 1939 graduate of Valley High School and captain of the football team. He later married Hildreth Kolling, also a Valley grad, who was crowned as Valley’s first Homecoming Queen in the fall of 1939. They attended Valley when the school was located near what is now Hillside Elementary. Hildreth was crowned in a new stadium that had been dedicated on May 24, 1939. There were three candidates and then radio personality (later KRNT-TV reporter) Russ Van Dyke was the lone judge who chose Hildreth as the queen.
“I told her to turn on the charm,” quipped Harvey, now 93 years old.
The couple had been married for 62 years when Hildreth passed away in March of 2004. After she passed, Harvey worked with the school and Dollars for Scholars to establish the Hildreth Kolling Florer Memorial Scholarship, which has awarded a $500 scholarship to every Valley Homecoming Queen since 2004. Harvey enjoys attending Honors Evening each spring to personally present each Homecoming Queen with her scholarship in honor of his wife.
“One of the girls wrote me a card and said she used the money to buy all her books,” Harvey said. He has gotten a thank you card from each Homecoming Queen and has kept them all – seven total and soon to be eight.
The family has a rich history tied to Valley. Hildreth’s mother, Mary Heenan was a member of the very first graduating class in 1917. Hildreth grew up in the West Des Moines area, attending Bennett Schoolhouse, now a historical museum next to Jordan Creek Elementary, from third through eighth grade before attending Valley. Harvey and Hildreth had five children and eight grandchildren graduate from Valley as well. When the current Valley Stadium was built, Harvey and Hildreth were invited to be torch bearers and helped to dedicate the new stadium.
When thinking of his own football days, Harvey is proud to say that Ronald Regan was the radio announcer for the WHO Radio broadcasts.
“He came to practice at four o’clock every day after school to learn all of our names,” he remembered. “He was our guest speaker at our football banquet my senior year.”
Even at 93, Harvey is still planning on attending Honors Evening and you might even want to keep an eye out for him at the football game Friday cheering on the Tigers.