“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave” – Plains Indian proverb
Legacies become important to many of us as we grow older. Some professions almost automatically ensure an honorable legacy — and teachers are often near the top of any such list. After all, isn’t there a well-known saying, “Everything I needed to know in Life, I learned in kindergarten”? Now that is a legacy! And teachers upon retiring often get immediately into volunteering, I learned in fascinating conversations during the 40 years I led overseas travel groups like Smithsonian Associates and Road Scholars.
Dr. Norma Kirby, past president of the Fayette County Retired Teachers Association (a chapter of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association), states that local members reported a collective total of 13,273 volunteer hours at the end of 2019, the last year volunteering was widely permitted prior to the lockdowns of the global pandemic. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics methods have calculated that the per-hour value of this unpaid labor in 2019 was $27.20. Thus FCRTA members contributed the equivalent of $361,025 back into our community that year alone.
FCRTA plans to honor at its October 14 meeting the 14 revered local educators who have died since the most recent memorial ceremony took place in June 2019. In rereading their obituaries — some of which took up many newspaper columns — I was struck anew by both the multitude and the variety of local organizations and projects these retired teachers had helped, from churches and service clubs to honorary organizations and county boards. My own future obituary should mention, for example, hundreds of voluntary hours of playing the piano for nursing home church services and Mother’s Day teas!
You could check Record-Herald obituaries to learn more details. Listed below are the names and teaching areas only of the 14 local educators for whom a bell will be tolled at the Oct. 14 meeting of the Fayette County Retired Teachers Association:
The first death in the FCRTA family came on the Fourth of July weekend of 2019: Caryl (Wagner) Bookman. She had been a beloved elementary teacher for five years at Miami Trace and then for 29 years in Washington C.H, for a total of 34 years. Mrs. Bookman is an ideal representative of retired teachers in that she had volunteered in more different organizations, both locally and statewide, than I could possibly list here.
Curtis Fleisher, the second FCRTA member to pass away, died Nov. 11, 2019. Originally a math teacher in Columbus, Mr. Fleisher became an administrator at several schools prior to being invited to Fayette County in 1969 to take over as principal at Miami Trace High School. He retired in 1984, but to the very end of his life he expressed his pride in having been MTHS’ longest-serving principal (15 years).
Tom Gauldin, who died Feb. 10, 2020, first served in the Army and was stationed in Germany and later in Vietnam, then he used his education degree to start teaching industrial arts at Washington High School. He also brought computers to the district — now there’s a legacy for the 21st century! Mr. Gauldin retired as principal of Washington Middle School and the kindergarten.
James Rosendahl died Mar. 8, 2020, having spent 26 years as an educator, with his final position being principal of Madison Mills Elementary. In earlier years Mr. Rosendahl had served as superintendent or principal in several Ohio and Michigan school districts. In his second year of teaching and coaching, a varsity baseball team of his had even won a state championship.
Carl Anders died May 20, 2020. He was a special education teacher in the Washington C.H. City Schools who had furthered his education with a master’s degree from Wilmington College and additional work toward a doctorate. Passionate about his hometown of Sabina, Mr. Anders was active in organizations such as the Sabina Historical Society.
Jane (Cook) Throckmorton died Sep. 13, 2020, at the age of 91. She taught middle school math at Sparta School in the late 1950s, then home economics (her major at college) at Mt. Gilead School until 1968. She finished her career teaching home economics at Mount Vernon School in Knox County; but after the death of her husband, she returned home to Fayette County, where she had been a Class of 1946 graduate of Bloomingburg High School.
Norma (Burr) Wilson died Sep. 20, 2020, at the age of 93. During her freshman year at OSU, she answered a call to return to this area — World War II was causing a drastic shortage of teachers — and began her first assignment: New Holland Elementary. During her 36- year career, she taught primarily first grade both there and later at Eastside and Cherry Hill elementary schools. Both Jane Throckmorton, who had died the week prior, and Mrs, Wilson attributed their strong work ethics to earlier work on their family farms.
Marian (Purdum) Robinson died Oct. 19, 2020. During her 30 years as an elementary teacher, she worked for the Hillsboro (her hometown) and then Greenfield school districts, spending her final 23 years in the Washington C.H. system. Her death marked the halfway point for Grace United Methodist Church, which suffered the loss of 6 retired-teacher members during the period of time covered by this article.
James Oughterson died Dec. 9, 2020. He began his teaching career as a history teacher at Jeffersonville Elementary, then served as principal for 7 years at Bloomingburg Elementary followed by 7 years as Miami Trace’s assistant superintendent. During his final decade in education, Mr. Oughterson was superintendent of Caldwell Exempted Schools. He received the Record-Herald’s 2012 Citizen of the Year award,
Gordon McCarty died Dec. 14, 2020. After serving three years in the Navy during the Korean War, he began teaching at Jeffersonville High School, then in 1970 was named principal of Jeffersonville Elementary. Mr. McCarty also taught drivers’ education and coached three sports, and for 20 years he served on the Miami Trace District School Board.
William “Bill” Radabaugh, Jr. died Feb. 24, 2021. His career as an educator started with teaching Spanish and math in the Lancaster City Schools. While teaching in the Miami Trace system — from which he later retired — he also was an educator in the adult education (GED) program. Mr. Radabaugh was a proud Mason for over 42 years.
Denzel Leggett died Apr. 22, 2021, at the age of 93. He enlisted in the Air Force after high school, training in France, Austria, and Berlin; and he was closely involved in the famous Berlin Airlift at Tempelhof Air Base, which saved several million Berliners during the Soviet blockade. He then taught science in the Washington C.H. City Schools for 30 years, and he was also associated with a variety of Fayette County engineering projects for almost twice that long.
Juanita (Porter) Hughes died June 2, 2021. After attending Cincinnati’s College of Music for two years and completing her degree at Ohio University, she taught several years in southern Ohio before becoming a music teacher with the Washington C.H. City Schools in 1967. That same year Mrs. Hughes also became the organist at Grace United Methodist Church.
E. Lucille (Straley) Davis died July 30, 2021, and at 101 was the oldest of the 14 deceased FCRTA members whom this article honors. She was a second-grade teacher for 36 years: six at New Holland and the remaining 30 years in the Washington C.H. system. Initiated in 1952 into the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, she had been the longest-time member of that female teachers’ honorary.
We Fayette Countians can be proud of these local educators. They truly have left remarkable “tracks” as their legacies.