He could be remembered for his work in creating the University of Akron's Honors College.
Or his effort to ensure the university remained open in the days following the May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State.
But University of Akron retired dean Dick Hansford will be remembered for a different reason when he celebrates his 90th birthday Saturday during the homecoming game at InfoCision Stadium.
''A kangaroo,'' Hansford said. ''I just smile because although I've done things that were far more important in the big picture of life, I'm proud whenever somebody remembers me as the guy who came up with the idea to make the school mascot a kangaroo because so many people have enjoyed it.''
The kangaroo mascot that started with a thought in the educated head of Hansford who then was serving as adviser of men has evolved into the nation's top-ranked mascot.
''In essence, he is the root of the Roo,'' said Ken MacDonald, who served as the university's director of sports information from 1965 through 1989.
Hansford said the Roo was born after bigger schools around the country adopted animals as mascots.
''Student Council was looking into a project to get an animal mascot here at Akron,'' Hansford said. ''Bob Savoy, an All-American diver, was named chairman of the selection committee to pick a mascot on Oct. 7, 1952.
''Bob was an engineering student who knew all about building bridges, but nothing about picking a mascot. So he came to me looking for ideas.''
Hansford, who had earned a master's degree in psychology from UA, was able to draw on his previous college experience from being a cheerleader to being a member of the wrestling and gymnastics teams and also a member for the university administration.
He also had a keen feel for leadership and a fighting spirit. He had served as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army's 123rd Infantry, 33rd Division, first as an instructor at Fort Campbell in Mineral Wells, Texas, and later fighting Japanese ground forces in the final 18 months of World War II. He earned two bronze star medals, one with two oak leaf clusters, for his bravery and contributions in the Pacific Theater.
Hansford also believes that ''intuitiveness'' is one of his strong points, and was a key player in the creation of what we have known for the last 56 years as the most distinctive college mascot in the country.
''I really thought the mascot needed to be something unique there were so many bulldogs, lions, tigers and whatnots out there already,'' said Hansford, who grew up in the shadows of the university as his family's home was located where Bierce Library stands today. ''And it had to be something that was aggressive.
''There are about 40 species of kangaroos, ranging from small ones about the size of your hand to the mountain kangaroo, which is about 7 feet tall. The big ones are very aggressive if necessary because they are very strong and powerful by nature.''
He drew on his memories of an old cartoon character named ''Kicky,'' and he pictured a kangaroo with boxing gloves. And so the university's mascot was born.
Although the kangaroo was initially ridiculed in the Buchtelite, the school newspaper, as well as the Beacon Journal, the Student Council signed off on it May 1, 1953.
Student-artist Ted Dick put a beanie on the kangaroo's head, a varsity A sweater on its body, boxing gloves on both hands and an Akron pennant in one hand. Athletic Director Kenneth ''Red'' Cochrane suggested the zippered pouch across the front of the sweater.
But it wasn't until Oct. 1, 1955, that the mascot debuted as Mr. Zip during the second annual Acme-Zip football game.
Pete Demming, a popular student who had been chosen by the cheerleaders for what was a secret mission, left his seat in the Rubber Bowl shortly before halftime. He donned a paper-mache kangaroo head and a fake-fur body costume.
Mr. Zip made a few appearances over the ensuing years before it became a full-time gig with a new and improve costume. And a new name Zippy was adopted in 1965.
''It really took off at that point,'' Hansford said. ''I had great hopes for both the school and the mascot, but never would I have dreamed what both have become.''
UA, which had about 1,700 students when Hansford enrolled in night classes in the small municipal college after graduating from Central High School in 1937, now has nearly 28,000 students.
''It is unlikely that any dean of students will ever have a great impact on the development of the University of Akron than Richard L. Hansford,'' MacDonald said. ''As the university's chief student officer for 28 years, he created and developed services demanded by an enrollment that grew from less than 5,000 students to more 28,000.''
And Zippy is now a national symbol of excellence for college mascots.
Zippy was chosen as one of 12 mascots to compete for the 2008 Capital One Bowl Mascot of the Year Challenge. Zippy defeated Syracuse University's Otto in the semifinals and Minnesota's Goldy Gopher in the finals.
''What I value most are the relationships, I had a great affinity for the students,'' said Hansford, who was born Oct. 10, 1919, in Elkins, W.Va. ''As amazing as it seems, I enjoyed a good relationship with everybody from students to school officials at the university. It truly was a great time and I know I am blessed to have had a great life and the University of Akron was a huge part of it.
''And if it means that I'm remembered because of a kangaroo, so be it. It could be a lot worse.''
Bill Lilley can be reached at 330-996-3811 or email@example.com.