William Warren Harless was a natural athlete and handsome with it. Born on 9 March 1867 in Chigago, Illinois to Thomas Henry and Barbara Ann King Harless, he was the youngest of 8 children (2 older half-siblings had died as children almost 20 years before William was born). William Warren was only 3 years old when his father died, but his mother was well provided for and was able to raise her children by herself until she chose to remarry when William was 11 years old.
William Warren Harless began his higher education at Notre Dame but transferred to the University of Michigan because Notre Dame did not play football.
For the 1886 season William was a substitute player, but was a rusher for the 1887 season and was invited, with his teammate, George Dehaven, back to Notre Dame for a training session to teach the Fighting Irish this new game. Perhaps William was a better player than a teacher, but when Notre Dame played their first ever game, against Michigan, they were defeated 8-0 and it would be 32 years before the Fighting Irish would achieve victory over the Wolverines.
William played football as a center, a rusher and a guard, but this was not the only sport he participated in. In 1887, he came first in putting shot (29′ 3″), and the hammer throw (56′ 10 7/8″), but was defeated by W. C. Malley in heavy weight wrestling. It was noted that both the hammer and the shot were overweight and that otherwise the distances might have been greater. The prizes were of interest too, a set of George Elliot’s works for the hammer throw and Paradise Lost for the hammer throw.
After university William Warren Harless became a civil engineer and married Mary Jane Lennon in 1896. William and Mary had no children, and when the Spanish-American war broke out, William joined the US Army as a quartermaster in the 7th Illinois Infantry.
Following his stint in the army, William became the manager of an insurance company, but his love of sports had obviously not left him, as he served as the Secretary of the West Golf Association for a number of terms.