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Published: Friday, 7/13/2001

Ex-Tiffin school chief oversaw boom

TIFFIN - Donald W. Shepherd, who led the Tiffin City Schools as superintendent for 15 years during a post-war period of enrollment growth and building construction, died Monday in St. Francis Home here. He was 90.

The cause of death was not known, but family members said he had heart trouble in recent years. He had lived in St. Francis Home since April, 2000.

Mr. Shepherd was Tiffin superintendent from 1954 to 1969. To make room for the baby boom, he oversaw the building of Krout and Washington elementary schools and Columbian High School. Two other schools were annexed into the system, and additions were built to Lincoln and Noble schools. The district began kindergarten and cafeteria programs.

“Without the support of the people, none of the buildings would be built,” his daughter, Gwen Lewis, a former librarian in the school system, said. “People respected that he was honest, he was dependable, and conscientious. He listened to people.”

Son-in-law DeWitt Lewis added: “He could take a major situation and condense it into a few words that stated what the problem was and what the solution might be. He always had more than one solution, and he allowed the [board of education] to choose the solution.”

He stayed focused on children and teachers as well as bricks and mortar.

“His attention, though divided, was never diminished for either responsibility,” said Burton Goetz, who retired in 1983 after 23 years as Krout principal. “He was a man of integrity. He always had time for everyone. He was always fair in his decisions. He was humble at the same time.

“He was a good counsel to anyone with any problem,” Mr. Goetz said. “He was able to help you without making you feel as though he was a person of authority.”

Mr. Shepherd retired in 1969.

He then returned to his favorite duty - classroom teaching. He was an assistant professor of education from 1969 to 1979 at Heidelberg College. Besides teaching, he supervised student teaching and the placement office.

“He was proud that a high percentage of people on his placement list were hired,” his daughter said.

Mr. Shepherd grew up in Belmont County and was a graduate of Barnesville High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Ohio University and a master's degree from Ohio State University.

He began teaching in the Barnesville schools in 1934. He was high school principal from 1939 to 1949 and was district superintendent from 1949 to 1954.

Teaching and education were a family tradition. His mother was a teacher; his wife, Geneva, was a teacher. Mrs. Lewis was a school librarian and his late daughter Joyce Moser was a teacher. His son, Wayne, formerly was on the school board.

Mr. Shepherd played tennis until his late 70s and liked to fish and watch birds. He knew long passages of poetry by heart.

Always handy, he spent much of his retirement on family projects, building furniture and doing remodeling work for family members.

Surviving are his wife, Geneva, whom he married June 18, 1936; son, Wayne; daughter, Gwen Lewis; brother, Joseph Shepherd; eight grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Services will be private. Arrangements are by the Turner-Engle Mortuary, Tiffin.

The family requests tributes to Mercy Hospital of Tiffin; St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Tiffin, where he was a member; Barnesville Area Education Foundation, Barnesville, Ohio; Tiffin Community YMCA; St. Francis Home, or a charity of the donor's choice.



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