Marathon remembers student advocate John ‘Pops’ Stiglitz

With the end of the popular Nate Grill Softball Tournament that raises money for Marathon High School scholarships came the birth of a new one, The Pops Stiglitz Coed Softball Tournament. It, too, is dedicated to raising money for high school seniors and fulfilling wish lists at Stanley Switlik Elementary.

Since 2005 the Nate Grill Scholarship Foundation raised more than $70,000 for MHS students heading off to college. “We will still be raising money in Nate Grill’s name,” said founder Lisi Cadwell. “It just took up a lot of time and energy and my schedule is more time consuming now. I am happy that there will be a tournament in Pops name; he was an amazing person and community member.”

John “Pops” Stiglitz, who passed away last June, was the owner of a welding shop in Marathon, but he is most remembered for his unwavering support of the students in the community. The MHS Career and Technical Center is named after him: “Pop’s Place.” And he was a devoted fan, frequently cheering student athletes on the ball fields.

“This is such a great way to remember his legacy,” said C.B. Stiglitz, daughter-in-law of the late Pops. “He was such an advocate for students and big supporter of the schools in Marathon.”

Pops and his wife Granny have four children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. The Stiglitz put together a family team for the tournament, which has 14 teams from Key West, Big Pine and Marathon signed up to play. Registration closed in March.

“I haven’t played softball in years,” laughed C.B., “so it should be quite a spectacle.”

Bambi Kuck, with the help of the Struyf family and Oni Ferreiro, said the tournament is still looking for cash donations which can be put toward the scholarship fund, and volunteers to work in the concession stands.

“Pops was always raising money for the kids,” Kuck said, who lives down the street from Stiglitzs behind the airport, and counts him as family. “He would sit at Halloween — you know how crazy it is behind the airport — and ask everyone who came by for a dollar. Then he would donate it all to Stanley Switlik. He was always looking for different ways to help the schools.”

Marathon High School seniors can find the application for the scholarship in the CAPS office, or online at The application is due by May 15. The Nate Grill Scholarship is also available in the CAPS office or on It is due by May 1.

“Pops thing was simple. If you raise $500, you better give out $500, and we are going to keep with that tradition,” Kuck said. “Not only are we going to provide the scholarship, but we are also hoping to fill a couple of wish list items at Stanley Switlik.


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