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Michigan Legislator Sings "Carmen Ohio" at Statehouse in OWU Football Jersey

November 15, 2006

Michigan Rep. John C. Stewart, left, accepts a rose Wednesday from Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted. Husted gave him the rose in anticipation that Michigan will lose to Ohio State and have to settle for a Rose Bowl appearance.

Click here to view video of the event. (Requires RealPlayer)

The Battling Bishops took center stage in this week’s battle between Ohio State and Michigan, during a session at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon, Michigan Rep. John C. Stewart led the Ohio House of Representatives in singing “Carmen Ohio,” delivering on a friendly wager made before Michigan’s loss last year. Stewart, who had arrived wearing a navy blue blazer and maize and blue striped tie, donned a replica of his father’s 1927 Ohio Wesleyan football jersey (number 33 on the front and “Stewart” on the back) to lead the alma mater.

“It is just good fun,” Stewart said. Joining Stewart at the Statehouse, and recognized in his remarks, were Mark Shipps, vice president for university relations, Roger Ingles, athletic director, and Carol Burns, of the annual giving staff.

Stewart’s father, Bob, a native of Coshocton, Ohio, was the starting fullback for Ohio Wesleyan in the first football game ever played in the University of Michigan’s “Big House” at Ann Arbor, held on October 1, 1927.

“If my father had the strength to represent Ohio Wesleyan and get on a train on Oct. 1,1927, and go to Ann Arbor,” Rep. Stewart said, “then I have the strength to come to Ohio and discuss higher education…and to lead the singing of ‘Carmen Ohio.’”

Due to his father’s studies at Ohio Wesleyan, and later, at Albion College in Michigan, “I grew up with great respect for the private, independent small college,” Stewart said. “The quality and personal attention of our private independent schools is the best buy. They are the ‘Mouse that Roared.’”

Rep. Stewart is chair of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in Michigan, and has served as co-chair of the Midwest Higher Education Conference. With these close ties to education, he has been called upon to give four commencement addresses in the last two years at Michigan universities — more than any other Michigan legislator, he said.

Only 23 percent of Michigan residents have a bachelor’s degree, Stewart noted. “We have to get our degrees. There is an inevitable relationship between higher education and a job,” he said. “Higher education is the essence of recovery for the economy.”

Although he earned his degrees at other Michigan universities, John Stewart also studied at the University of Michigan. While there, Stewart, who has a booming voice, sang in the men’s glee club and was “The Voice of the Marching Band,” during football games. “I went to the Rose Bowl in 1969,” he said, recalling the era of rivalry between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.

Ohio Wesleyan has other historic ties to the OSU-Michigan contest, he noted. In the early ’70s, when Michigan played Ohio State, “Bo Schembechler would hide out at Ohio Wesleyan with his team,” Stewart said. “They didn’t want to stay in Columbus.”

Wednesday night, after his visit to the Ohio Statehouse, Stewart and the co-workers traveling with him planned to do the same. “We’re going to chill out with a late dinner at Buns Restaurant,” he said.

“Let’s have great fun. It’s a huge, huge game,” Stewart said.