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Published: Monday, 7/7/2008

Springfield Local driver mimicked Lincoln for events


Ralph Borror, 66, a school bus driver best known as a dedicated Abraham Lincoln impersonator, died of a stroke Saturday in Flower Hospital.

Friends and colleagues said Mr. Borror of Springfield Township aimed for complete authenticity in his Abraham Lincoln impression, which started as a gag and became his passion.

He impersonated Lincoln at schools, homes for the elderly, and historical festivals, sharing his passion for history with charm and humor.

"He knew everything about Abraham Lincoln," his granddaughter, Michelle Shiple, said.

Mr. Borror was employed by Springfield Local School District for 24 years, driving the bus for children with developmental disorders.

He often visited extended-care facilities to provide company to elderly residents and was a choir director for local churches, his daughter, Kandi Helminiak, said.

"He's been involved in so many people's lives," Mrs. Helminiak said.

Mr. Borror was born in Sylvania on Sept. 3, 1941. After graduating from the former Sylvania Burnham High School in 1959, he joined the Navy and served aboard the USS Forrestal.

He proposed marriage to his wife, Linda, about a week after returning from active duty. They married in August, 1963.

Mrs. Helminiak described her father as involved and caring.

"He was my cheerleading coach. We were involved in drum and bugle corps, and he was there every minute," she said. Her brother was a wrestler, and Mr. Borror went to every match, she said.

He first began impersonating Lincoln about 20 years ago after growing a beard to annoy his boss, Ms. Shiple said.

Friends and colleagues noted his resemblance to the president and started calling him "Abe," spurring him to learn to dress and act like Lincoln.

"He was a funny, lovable guy that loved to make everybody laugh," she said.

Mr. Borror was a former president of the Association of Lincoln Presenters, a group counting more than 150 Lincoln impersonators.

Rick Finch, site manager of Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, said Mr. Borror's attention to detail and ability to enthrall even young children set him apart.

"As far as Abraham Lincoln re-enactors go, he was one of the best," Mr. Finch said.

"He took a lot of pride in his appearance, and made sure to have the most authentic appearance he could."

Surviving are his wife, Linda; daughters, Kimberly Shiple, Kelly Langendorfer, and Kandi Helminiak; sons, Scott and Steven; mother, Virginia; sister, Marilyn Goldsmith; brother, Curtis; 13 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Neville Funeral Home in Springfield Township where services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The family suggests tributes to the American Lung Association.

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