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Union Boundary

Beloved Teacher, Entertainer is Remembered

RICHARD HADER AND MYRON NOODLEMAN: When he was not teaching math at Union High School, Richard Hader could be found entertaining audiences at sporting events as alter-ego Myron Noodleman. Hader passed away on Nov. 1. Hader began entertaining in Tulsa in the 1990s and grew to gain national recognition.

Richard Martin Hader passed away early on Nov. 1 at St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa with family and close friends at his side.

Known to Union students as “Mr. Hader – the math teacher,” to friends and family as “Rick,” and to millions of sport fans across North America as the nerd “Myron Noodleman,” Hader led a unique life that he created and excelled at.

Born March 3, 1958, in Park Ridge, Illinois, he moved to Tulsa in 1982 and earned a math degree from Northeastern State University to go with an economics degree from Knox College.

In 1987, he became a math teacher at Union High School. But something from his past would be cause for a future career change.

In 1981, Hader had entered a Halloween costume contest in a bar in Chicago and won the $1,000 first prize. That costume was a Nutty Professor (original Jerry Lewis version)-inspired nerd look. Over the next years, he would enter the highest paying costume contests in the region and win them all.

When pressed for a character name, he blurted out the nerdiest name he could conjure, and Myron Noodleman was born.

After trying out the character at several sporting events (Tulsa Drillers, University of Tulsa basketball and University of Oklahoma football games) and seeing audience reactions, Hader knew he had something. He was given a try by the professional indoor soccer team Tulsa Ambush in 1991 and quickly became the entertainer for the team that went 7-33 but continued to draw more fans because of their dedication to entertaining the fans with Myron Noodleman.

While performing with the Ambush, Hader came to the attention of his soon-to-be-agent Jon Terry. Terry remembers his first sight of Myron in action: “My first thought was ‘What’s that?,’ followed quickly by ‘I wonder if he has an agent.’”

Early attempts to market Myron to baseball teams started slow. “We mailed a brochure to every team in the country and only got one response,” says Terry, “but what a bingo that was.”

The general manager of the Albuquerque Dukes, Pat McKernan, gave Myron his first fully-paid gig and liked him so much he had him back a number of times in the 1993 season. McKernan recommended he attend the annual Baseball Winter Meetings trade show in order to become known by all teams.

Hader, in full Myron regalia, and Terry, with brochures in hand, rented a booth at the Winter Meetings (held that year in Dallas) and walked out of it with 24 bookings for the ’94 season plus a handful of calling cards to follow up with. Myron was off and running.

His act for baseball included six between-innings routines that had to get a big laugh in 90 seconds or less. He, then, would go into the stands and do off-the-cuff comedy with the fans during the game. He’d keep moving section to section, and it was easy to know where he was by following the laughter that would surround him.

Despite knowing his financial life was taking a major upgrade, he continued teaching and tried to be only a weekend nerd warrior during April and May. But the demand for his services only soared as teams all over North America were contracting dates at fast pace. He was also picking up dates in winter sports like basketball and hockey plus getting offers to perform across the country for corporate, charity and private events.

By 1996, it was inevitable that the teaching job had to make room for Myron. But he never lost his love for teaching, and in 2012, he made the decision to return to the classroom, and Union accommodated. He created a schedule that would allow him to have both careers and was very pleased with this arrangement.

In 2004, Myron Noodleman was anointed as the new Clown Prince of Baseball in a ceremony held by baseball teams owner Mike Veeck (whose partner is actor Bill Murray). This title had been held by baseball clowns before Myron, starting in the late 1800s with Arlie Latham, followed in the ’20s by Al Schacht and Max Patkin from the ‘40s until his death in 1999.

In the first quarter of 2017, Hader learned that he had a rare form of sinus cancer but was confident of his return. He sat out the 2017 season. Then, he couldn’t return to teaching in September because of lingering recovery issues. In mid-October, he learned that the cancer had become terminal.

A memorial service was held Nov. 11 with a wide array of Hader/Myron’s friends, family and former students in attendance from all over the country.

He is survived by his wife Kim, children Amanda Hader Katomski, Madison Suppes and Ethan Suppes, six brothers and sisters plus his father Arthur Hader.

Updated 01-08-2018

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