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Published: Saturday, 5/29/2004

Science teacher toiled to give topics meaning

HURON, Ohio - R. Tom Shontz, Jr., who taught science at Huron High School for nearly 30 years, died of colon cancer Tuesday in Firelands Regional Medical Center. He was 59.

Mr. Shontz, who taught physics, chemistry, and biology, was an inquisitive man, his daughter, Katie Burnley, said.

"He really had a zest for learning," she said. "If there was something new he didn't know, he was willing to learn it."

He was an enthusiastic teacher who was always looking for ways to make his students interested, Nancy Riesterer, who was a biology student of his in 1978, said.

"He made it very interesting because it wasn't just your everyday textbook science," she said.

Mr. Shontz took her class to what is now Sheldon's Marsh in Erie County. The students each had a small section of land and were supposed to plot all the animals and plants they found in that area, Mrs. Riesterer said.

"If there was a track on your square area, you'd have to find out what animal left it," she said.

When his former students came to visit him after they had gone off to college, Mr. Shontz would ask them what he could do differently to prepare his students for college, his daughter said.

For several years, he was an assistant football and track coach. He also advised the Photography Club and the Ski Club.

He retired in 1998 but continued teaching at the Bowling Green State University Firelands campus through 2003.

He taught in Berlin-Milan Local Schools starting in 1966.

Mr. Shontz received his bachelor's degree from Miami University and his master's from Duke University, both in education. He married the former Susan Chastant in 1968.

Mr. Shontz was involved with several volunteer groups.

"Especially since he retired, he had something every night of the week," his daughter said.

He was an active boater and a member of and instructor for the Sandusky Power Squadron.

Mr. Shontz served on the vestry, was treasurer, and taught Sunday school at Christ Episcopal Church.

Surviving are his wife, Susan; daughter, Katie Burnley; son, David, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today at the church.

The family suggests tributes to the church, the Sandusky Power Squadron, or the Huron High School Alumni Association in care of the school.



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