Donnie Swartz and Gordie Kauffman first got to know each other over business.

Basketball, though, was what sealed a bond between the two men.

"I knew Donnie in the business world for some time," Kauffman said. "But, we really became close about 10 years ago when I joined the officials' chapter."

Swartz and Kauffman both officiated high school basketball games. They were members of the York-Adams Chapter of PIAA officials.

"Donnie was 15 years older than I was, but we had so much in common," Kauffman said. "We were both people persons, enjoyed life and enjoyed having fun. Donnie was one of those guys who everyone loved. Rich, poor, it didn't matter. He was an engaging person."

Swartz died unexpectedly in March of 2011 at the age of 64, following a brief illness.

This Saturday, Kauffman, and many of Swartz's friends , will honor his memory and raise money for a worthy cause at the same time.

The Donnie Swartz Memorial Basketball Classic will make its debut on Saturday at York College's Grumbacher Center (Wolf Gymnasium).

The event will feature a high school girls'-boys' doubleheader with all the proceeds from the event going to the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Fund.

The fund will provide a $5,000 college scholarship to one senior boy and one senior girl who are part of a York-Adams basketball program that is recognized by the officials for its sportsmanship. Donnie Swartz and his wife, the late Gretchen Wolf Swartz, officiated many varsity games together.


The first game at 6 p.m. Saturday will feature a girls' matchup between Central York (4-7) and Eastern York (7-4). That will be followed by a boys' battle between York Suburban (4-6) and West York (4-7) at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $2 for students.

"There's going to be a pretty full house," Kauffman said. "There are a lot of people who knew Donnie and want to pay tribute to him."

Donnie Swartz played college basketball at Kenyon (Ohio) College, where he was a teammate of a John Rinka, a legendary player who scored 3,251 career points and won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as America's best senior basketball player under six feet tall.

Swartz didn't get much playing time, but Rinka felt the Yorker made a major contribution to his success.

"I gave him the All-America plaque from my sophomore year," Rinka said. "I told him it was half his, because it was as hard playing him in practice as it was playing in a game. He helped me out so much. I don't think I was ever guarded as tough in a game as I was in practice."

-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin