Wear Kibler Schoonover (1910–1982)

Wear Kibler Schoonover won many academic and athletic awards while attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). While he was part of the All-American football team, he went to Hollywood to play a part in the film Maybe It’s Love. Schoonover later served in the U.S. Navy and worked for the government in the Legal Services Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wear Schoonover was born on March 18, 1910, in Pocahontas (Randolph County) to attorney Eugene Gardiner Schoonover and Estelle Waddle Schoonover; he had two siblings who died in infancy and one brother. Schoonover graduated from Pocahontas High School and attended UA, accomplishing much in both academics and sports. Schoonover was the first UA athlete to hold letters in four sports: football, basketball, baseball, and track. Schoonover’s athletic accomplishments include: Collier’s All-American Football Team in 1929 (as an end) and College Humor Magazine All American Basketball 2nd Team in 1930 (as a forward). He was the first All American from UA and the first All-American football player in the Southwest Conference (SWC). Schoonover played on three straight Southwest Conference championship basketball teams: the 1927–28 team, with a record of 12-0 in the conference and 19-1; the 1928–29 team (11-1 and 16-1); and 1929–30 (10-2 and 16-7).

Schoonover continues to hold the SWC record for receptions, from a game against Baylor University in 1929. In the Baylor game, Schoonover caught thirteen passes for 152 yards; he caught thirty-three that season for 342 yards and six touchdowns. He won All-American and All-SWC honors as an end in 1929. Until 1968, all the university’s receiving records belonged to 1937 All-American Jim Benton and Schoonover.

At the same time as his sports success, Schoonover was president of the senior class and ranked at the top of his class in his studies. He was selected in 1929 as the university’s candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship and led the all-time UA Academic Team with a grade point average of 3.85. While he was on the All-American football team, Schoonover traveled to Hollywood with the team and held a role in the film Maybe It’s Love (1930). The movie, directed by William Wellman and starring Joan Bennett, Joe E. Brown, and James Hall, was a musical comedy and was shown nationwide. After Schoonover’s graduation in 1930, he was employed as assistant coach of athletics at the university while he worked on his law degree, graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1935.

After graduation, Schoonover worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington DC until his retirement in the 1970s. During his years there, Schoonover rose to department director of production and stabilization. Schoonover also served three and a half years with the navy during World War II, advancing to the rank of captain before his discharge.

Schoonover was named to the National College Football Hall of Fame, the Razorback Hall of Honor, and the All-Century Team. In 1959, he was also one of the first five charter inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Schoonover died on May 15, 1982.

For additional information:
Dalton, Randolph. History of Randolph County, Arkansas. Pocahontas, AR: Star Herald Press, 1946.

Obituary of Wear Schoonover. Pocahontas Star Herald. May 20, 1982, p. 7.

Darla Hopper
Ravenden Springs, Arkansas


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