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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2001

Veteran principal led many Toledo schools

Roland G. Morris, a teacher and principal during a 34-year career in the Toledo Public Schools who was a leader in education, church, and retirement groups, died of a heart attack Sunday in Toledo Hospital. He was 84.

Mr. Morris, formerly of East Toledo and Woodville, lived with his wife, Gertrude, the last four years in Otterbein-Portage Valley Retirement Village, Pemberville, Ohio, which he helped organize.

He was hired by the Toledo schools in 1950, and his first assignment was teaching science and math to seventh and eighth graders at Birmingham School.

“He always liked to help the person who needed the most help,” said his daughter, Kathleen Hammitt, an elementary schoolteacher in Fostoria.

He left the classroom five years later for the principal's office at Point Place Junior High School. He later was principal at Edgewater, Cherry, Glenwood, and Mayfair schools. He retired in 1984 as principal of Reynolds Elementary School.

“He was kind of a leader of men,” Steve Contos, retired principal of Waite High School, said. “He had a feeling for kids, and most of his effort was put toward helping kids become better and, indirectly, that helped the teachers he worked with. Teachers picked up his momentum and his attitude toward kids.

“He was very serious, a very strong-willed person,” Mr. Contos said, “and the people around him recognized that and thought a great deal of him.''

After school hours, he took part in the PTA and “was always active in the community activities of the district” where his school was located, his daughter said.

Mr. Morris grew up in Wapakoneta and was a graduate of Bloom High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University and a master's degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

He was an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, teaching radio mechanics stateside.

He was a member of Faith United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school and was a lay leader.

Mr. Morris and his wife were enlisted by Dr. Thomas Bowlus in the 1970s to help in his campaign to build a retirement community in rural northwest Ohio. The result was what is now Otterbein-Portage Valley.

Mr. Morris was a former president of the Lucas County Retired Teachers Association.

Surviving are his wife, Gertrude, whom he married Aug. 21, 1948; son, Steven; daughter, Kathleen Hammitt, and five grandchildren.

The body will be in the Eggleston-Meinert Mortuary, Coy Road Chapel, Oregon, after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Faith United Methodist Church. The family requests tributes to the church or to Otterbein-Portage Valley Retirement Village.



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