Lew Hitch, who played center on the best team in Kansas State University basketball history, and who later became a prominent educational administrator, died Wednesday following an extended illness. He was 82.
Mr. Hitch played two seasons at K-State, 1949-50 and 1950-51, averaging 8.8 points the latter season as K-State ran up a 25-4 record and a Big Seven championship. That team defeated Arizona, Brigham Young and Oklahoma A&M in the NCAA tournament before losing 68-58 to Kentucky in the championship game.
Following graduation, Mr. Hitch played in the NBA for six seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers, Milwaukee Hawks and Philadelphia Warriors.
Although thin not particularly tall by the standards of NBA centers, standing 6-8 and weighing just over 200 pounds, he averaged five points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was a member of NBA championship teams with the Lakers in 1952 and 1953. Along the way he acquired his masters degree from K-State in 1957.
Following his retirement from the professional game, Mr. Hitch entered the field of education, taking a job as a high school biology teacher in Ellis. He also taught physical education and coached before being named superintendent of USD 323, now the Rock Creek school district in Westmoreland, in 1971.
He continued in that capacity until his retirement.
Born July 16, 1929, Mr. Hitch came to K-State from Griggsville, Ill., by way of several colleges he attended as a freshman and sophomore. He and his wife, Danna, were the parents of three sons, Danny, Kenny and Eddie. Mrs. Hitch preceded him in death. He had been hospitalized for several weeks, and was being taken by ambulance to a Topeka hospital Wednesday morning when he died.
Other survivors include two brothers, Dan, a veterinarian living in Springfield, TN, and Ed, who works for the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan.
Additional service-related information is expected to follow soon. Stewart Funeral Home will be handling the services.