GREEN BAY – The fourth time was the charm for George Oudhuis.
The 63-year-old native of Rolling Prairie, Ind., was announced as the 23rd inductee into the Packers Fan Hall of Fame on Wednesday. It was the fourth time Oudhuis had been among the 10 finalists for the annual award.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President/CEO Mark Murphy surprised Oudhuis with the news over a Zoom call, in lieu of the formal ceremony inside the Packers media auditorium.
Three times Oudhuis sat among those finalists at Lambeau Field and didn’t hear his name get called. All those emotions rushed to the surface after Murphy informed him of his induction.
“I got choked up for a minute because it means so much to me,” said Oudhuis from his home in Indiana. “It’s something that I dreamed of and it’s not just me; it’s everybody that associates with me.
“Everybody has supported me so well. I had relatives in Europe who were voting for me over there. I had friends in France and Holland and Germany. It’s completely amazing.”
A devoted Packers fan since the age of 9, Oudhuis has collected Packers memorabilia for decades – from his original Ray Nitschke jersey to a litany of signed footballs and helmets. Nearly every autograph in his possession has come from in-person signings over the last 50 years.
While Oudhuis joked there isn’t much available space on the walls inside his home, he does have a spot reserved for his Fan Hall of Fame plaque next to the key to the City of Green Bay Oudhuis received after helping unveil the street sign honoring Donald Driver Way in 2013.
“When you follow a team from when you’re a little kid until today, I got to meet a lot of the older players and stuff,” said Oudhuis, holding his plaque. “It’s just been a fantastic ride. To get there three times and finally the fourth time, I’m just truly blessed and honored to have this in my hands right now.”
Oudhuis has never lived in Wisconsin but developed a deep bond with the area. Despite the close calls, Oudhuis appreciated being able to come up three times to Lambeau Field to take part in the Fan Hall of Fame finalist festivities.
Even when he came up short a few times, Oudhuis’ close friends and family continued to nominate him every year for the honor until he finally received this year’s honor.
For his induction, Oudhuis will receive four club seats to a 2021 Packers home game; a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate; a road trip for two to a 2021 Packers away game, including game tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations; and a one-year subscription to Packer Plus.
Most importantly, his name will be permanently displayed inside the Packers Hall of Fame.
“My parents are in heaven but I hope they’re smiling down on me right now, knowing our names are going to go on that wall in Lambeau Field so years from now people can go and see it, and it’s there,” Oudhuis said. “It’s completely amazing.”
This year’s other finalists included Jane Rietmann from Merrimac, Wis., Fred Ihlenfeldt Sr. from Kewaunee, Wis., Jeff Padon from Severn, Md., Ken Trinkner from De Pere, Wis., Leo DeGroot from West Bend, Wis., Patrick (Pat) Suplicki from Stevens Point, Wis., Bob Parker from Green Bay, Gene C. Lasch from Shawano, Wis., and Jeanne Beardsley from Ellsworth, Wis.