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Published: Sunday, 11/8/2009

Athletic chief at Rossford also coached

Karen S. Swartz, a former athletic director at Rossford High School, where she coached an assortment of girls' sports, died of heart failure Saturday in Mercy St. Charles Hospital, Oregon. She was 69.

Mrs. Swartz suffered from congestive heart disease and had been in the hospital for a couple of days, her son, Kristopher Swartz, said.

The Rossford Board of Education named Mrs. Swartz athletic director in 1986, a post she held until the mid 1990s.

She had been assistant athletic director for four years and coached basketball, volleyball, track, and softball. She also was dean of students.

Becoming athletic director was a natural evolution for her. She was the daughter of Helen and Willard Schaller, who had met as teachers in Columbus Grove, Ohio. Her mother was a girls' coach and her father a boys' coach.

Her family moved to Monclova Township when she was a girl, and she graduated from Anthony Wayne High School. She was a sports lover, but there wasn't much opportunity for female high school athletes at that time, she told The Blade in a 1986 story.

Mrs. Swartz joined the Rossford schools system in 1965, the same year she graduated from Bowling Green State University with a major in physical education.

As athletic director, she was the administrator in charge of schedules, officials, tickets, and securing coaches.

She also met with parents, participated in league activities, and made sure that she or another administrator was present at all athletic activities.

"My first allegiance is to sports, whether it is for boys or girls," she told The Blade after she was tapped for the athletic director's job. "My interest is in supporting athletics."

She had a special interest in promoting girls' sports, and worked hard to make sure Rossford's teams had the resources they needed, her son said. In her personal life, she was a big fan of the University of Michigan even though her family consisted of diehard Ohio State fans.

She and her husband, Robert, were married for 50 years. They lived in Wood County's Troy Township, where Mr. Swartz farms.

Mrs. Swartz was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Rossford and Anthony Wayne high schools for her work as athletic director.

After she retired, she was a volunteer coordinator with the Wood County Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, representing children in custody and domestic cases.

Surviving are her husband, Robert; daughter, Karrie Failor; son, Kristopher; sister, Kay Sergent; four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. John's Lutheran Church, Stony Ridge.

The body will be in the Marsh Funeral Home, 110 Main St., Luckey, after 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The family requests tributes to the Friends of Wood County CASA.

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