Belmont High to name stadium in honor of former teacher

Dentler Erdmann

By Becky Koppenhaver

Belmont High School alumni are raising money this summer to name the school’s newly renovated stadium after a much-loved teacher who taught at the campus for 39 years.  The stadium, complete with new artificial turf and an all-weather track, will be named “Erdmann Stadium at Montgomery Field”  in honor of Dentler Erdmann, who taught at the school from 1959 to 1998.

Erdman, who was affectionately called “Erdie” by his students, was a business teacher but was also involved in almost all goings on at Belmont. He served as a Student Council advisor, yearbook advisor, the Sentinel newspaper advisor and counseled and mentored many students of all backgrounds, said alum Colleen Miyano, who now works as a teacher trainer at the high school, which serves Echo Park and Historic Filipinotown.  Erdmann was named California State Teacher of the Year in 1975.

“Dentler Erdmann was an influential figure to all the students who attended Belmont during those years,” Miyano said. “He was more than just a classroom teacher. A long tall Texan, he was a positive role model who engaged students and supported them both intellectually and emotionally. He attended most athletic events and took pictures for the yearbook, Campanile. He loved Belmont and we loved him!”

Jack Hansen, a former Belmont coach and a member of the class of ‘68, Belmont said that in Erdmann missed only three varsity games in his 39 years at the school. “He could always be found on the field taking pictures of the athletes for the yearbook,” said Hansen. “In the spring he supported the athletes by volunteering to work at all the track meets. He bled green and black and spent more time on that field than anyone I know.” Erdmann was named California State Teacher of the Year in 1975.

Hansen along with Belmont coach Gregg Barden are reaching out to other alumni to help raise approximately $1,200 to complete the final task of hanging Erdmann’s name on the large wall in the bleacher section of the stadium. Some recent graduates of Belmont voiced objections to the naming, but once Hansen explained who he was they all agreed Erdmann deserved to be honored.

And if you are wondering whether Erdmann himself, now 78, will be at the dedication ceremony scheduled to take place this fall, he says he wouldn’t miss it. The former teacher returned to Texas for his retirement, and  now spends his time working in his yard and hanging out at a local café in Lubbock, where he says a bunch of ex-coaches are his source of never-ending entertainment.

When asked how he feels about having Belmont’s stadium name after him, Erdmann said it’s difficult to find the words. “Even now, as I approach the four-score mark, when it’s deep in the night and the sleep won’t come, I think about my days in the cotton fields of Texas and wonder how in the heck I got this far in one piece… I’m still trying to figure out how I got off the farm. So for me to describe the feeling of Erdmann Stadium is impossible.”

Erdmann says one thing is for sure, the fondness with which he is remembered by his former students is reciprocated. “I have had trouble over the years trying to explain the incredible kids that came through Belmont … I know that other teachers will talk about their students and schools in much the same way, but I know, I just know, that the kids at Belmont were special.”

The dedication of Erdmann Stadium at Montgomery Field is scheduled for September 23, 2011.

If you would like to donate to the sign fund,  please email Jack Hansen: JHBHS68@aol.com.

P.S.: So, who is Montgomery Field named after?  The field was named in honor of the first boy’s vice principal at Belmont, according to Erdmann.

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Becky Koppenhaver is a freelance writer covering schools. You can send Becky story tips and ideas at becky@theEastsiderLA.com

No comments

  1. Very cool. But at least 38 years here in California and then go back to Lubbock? Must have missed having the right to carry. 🙂

  2. Erd was a great inspiration. Believe he went home to Lubbock because 1/it’s his hometown, 2/could remind him of what LA used to be, smaller, cosier, less crowded, far less violent.

  3. Even when he retired he would still come by and teach us things. I learned a lot from him and will always remember his teachings and the passion we share for the Dodgers! Great to see the field being named after someone I know and look up to! (CLASS of 2002)

  4. Colleen Miyano

    Erd was present when Belmont was in it’s heyday–great school, great traditions, great teachers, great students! Things have changed & when I go on campus, I know I’m “not in Kansas” any more. Sad.

  5. Wait — Stop the presses. (I’ve always wanted to say that.) A news bulletin is just coming off the wire: “Los Angeles Unified School District has decided not to rename the stadium after former Belmont teacher Dentler Erdmann; instead, the district has chosen to name it the ‘Dale Vigil Stadium.’ ‘When we discovered that Mr. Erdmann had spoken to someone whose brother’s wife’s uncle’s podiatrist made a comment against project-based learning,’ Vigil said, ‘we decided not to name the school after him. I think the Dale Vigil Stadium has a nice ring to it, don’t you? Well, don’t you?’ LAUSD superintendent John Deasy had no comment, but Eli Broad has reportedly offered to foot the bill for the fifty-foot-tall, neon ‘Dale Vigil Stadium’ sign.”

    (Disclaimer: The above news bulletin was a joke; I made the whole thing up. Don’t sue me for libel.)

  6. I wasn’t in his classes but he had a bigger impact in my life than any other teacher anywhere! Friday and Saturday nights at the Bonnie Brae house were the greatest. Playing charades was so much fun! Even though I’d only been in the U.S. but a few months, barely spoke the language and I really had not seen any movies other than the “Diez Mandamientos” (Ten Commandments). Charlton Heston spoke Spanish quite well.
    All the kids I met at Belmont through Mr. Erdmann were wonderful but I don’t think it was a coincidence. He atracted the good ones and the not so good ones and then helped all of us become better people.
    By the way, does anyone know who his plastic surgeon is? Almost eighty and the same beautiful smile, no wrinkles and even some hair! Envious minds would like to know!

  7. I will always remember the shinanagins that went on at Erdmann’s house. We even dyed Easter eggs. Erd is more than a former teacher of mine but a real friend after all these years. Last thing he gave me was a Dodger baseball which he signed Love you, Dentler Erdmann. We are far apart, I in Hawaii and Erd in Texas but my heart is still with him. He stood so tall next to all the Asian students to whom he was dedicated. It was fun Erd.

    Sorry I can’t make it to the dedication, but I agree with the choice they made to name it after him. Belmont was one of the greatest schools in LA back in the day and Erd was a great teacher/friend.

  8. Roxanne Udarbe Linville W69

    He is one of the great icons of Belmont. I will always remember him and his
    presence and the impact he has made on many former students Congratulations!! An honor well deserved.

  9. belmont high . the best years of my life . just arrivedto L,A. 1968

  10. Mr. Erd certainly deserves this honor. He saw students as the future adults they would one day become, and treated us as such. I too have only the fondest memories of my interactions with this model educator and friend. I can’t wait to see him at the dedication and get on my toes, once more, to give him a great-big Belmont hug!

  11. Deniece "Hershey" Yuman '76

    Congratulations Erdie, I hope you put the same effort into your retirement as you put into our education! It is very much deserved! Thank you.

  12. My wife Becky, son ANDREW and my dog (Buffy) and Myself have the great honor to be Dentler’s neighbors, and this guy would have never told us anything if I wouldn’t of drug it out of him. All of YALL (you guys) need to know, this guy has not changed. He’s a great neighbor, friend and We are very happy for him. Reading the comments describe our friend as he is today. Always smiling, loves sports and always worried about his friends, family and neighbors. I’m just happy he made Lubbock the place to retire. I hope many of you make his visit another great memory for him. This guy might not be able to get onto the plane, he is so proud right now. Congrats Dentler

  13. I am just now hearing of this and I think it is wonderful to name the stadium after Mr. Erdmann. He was a fantastic teacher, mentor, and true adult friend and role model to the students. I remember his classes, and he even had an etiquette lesson at the end of class. He gave his all to the students and he is so deserving of this. I will be attending the AARP convention in downtown LA, but will try to make this dedication event. If I don’t make it, Mr. Erdmann, you are the Best, and I wish you much Peace, Joy, Happiness and Love in your long retirement! Kathy Fuller (Class of 77)

  14. Crystal (Fuller) Jackson

    My sister Kathy just told me about this. Erdmann was the kindest, most down to earth, knowledgeable teacher I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He always had a welcoming smile and was a great role model and mentor to so many students throughout the years. Naming the field after him is a long overdue honor, but I am surprised that Belmont is still Belmont, and not Erdmann High School!! Thank you Mr. Erdmann for making a positive, lasting impression on my life. You are forever in my heart. Blessings, Crystal Fuller (class of 1980).

  15. Having had the privilege to have worked with Dentler (76-86), I can’t think of a Sentinel who is more deserving of this honor. A wonderful colleague, an inspiring mentor to students and a terrific educator. I always told him “that when I grow up I want to be just like him”!! lol ! He is a class act.

  16. Congratulations to Mr. Erdmann. Still today I keep in contact with my old typing teacher, from A-period (1995-1976). I never could get over 25wpm. Got out of tying the next year. he would always stop and talk to me in the hallway. Even when I graduated in 1978, left for the Army and came back to visit, he would always say “hi”, especially when he recognized me. Always the gentleman in his demeanor and gracious host. Still today almost 33 years after leaving the Sentinel grounds, I keep in contact with him. I now tell him of my family (five kids), my wife of 27 years and retiring from the fire department, and government after working for 32 years. He could believe I was old enough to be able to retire but he was proud to hear of it. Not as happy as I was to have him around to hear of my retirement. I am very happy to know that the football field was named after Mr. Erdmann as he still roamed the earth and not in memoriam. Mr. Erdmann is truly one teacher who had a tremendous affect on my life. I am grateful for having stuck it out that one year in tying, even if he did black out the letters on the keys to keep me from looking. Now I can type 50wpm. Thanks for all you did for me. Your “Gooner”

  17. Dentler is my uncle. I am so proud to read all these comments. He and I used to have long, friendly political arguments back in the days of Ronald Reagan’s governorship. I always thought he was one of the most interesting people I had ever met, and I always have looked forward to our too-few visits when he and I were both in our home town of Vernon, Texas at the same time. He is well-deserving of this honor.

  18. No one deserves this honor more than Mr Erdmann. I was his first Student Body President and we went trhrough a lot back in ’64. He was such a wonderful teacher, mentor and role model, just the very best. We’ve remained friend through the years and I miss him a lot. He was a cornerstone of Belmont, because he loved the school and all of its kids. He is the most caring, dedicated, gracious person I’ve had the pleasure to know. Congratualtions Erdy. Enjoy a long and wonderful retirement in Lubbock……their gain and our loss.

  19. A perfect tribute to an almost perfect man. I wish you long, warm days of bluebells, friends and family, and time to figure out what ELSE to do with zucchini.

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