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Published: Monday, 4/25/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Ralph Burton Carroll, 1929-2011: Educator spent most of career with Springfield system

BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ralph Burton Carroll, 81, a longtime educator who spent most of his career with Springfield Local Schools, died Thursday at Flower Hospital.

Mr. Carroll had been ill recently and was being treated for an infection, although the cause of death was not known, his son, Michael, said.

Mr. Carroll was born on May 21, 1929, in Waterville to Forest and Lillian Carroll and graduated from Grand Rapids High School, now part of the Otsego school district.

He attended the University of Toledo on a basketball scholarship.

"He was the first out of his family to attend college, so that was a big deal," Mike Carroll said.

In 1951, while playing for the University of Toledo against archrival Bowling Green, coach Jerry Bush pulled his little used, 6-foot-9 player off the bench when the Rockets trailed by 19 points in the first half. Mr. Carroll, a junior, scored 14 points to help spark Toledo to a 63-62 win. Michael Carroll said his father's 15 of 15 free throws set a national single-game record.

After college he flirted with playing semiprofessional basketball for a team in Akron.

"It got to the point where he had to decide whether to get a real job," his son said.

He married Shirley Stuart in 1952, and she died last June.

His career in education began in 1954 as a high school history teacher and varsity basketball coach in West Unity, Ohio.

"His first contract was for $3,100," Michael Carroll said. "He carried that contract around with him. He was really proud of that."

He left West Unity after about three years and became an elementary principal in the Lakota Local Schools near Kansas, Ohio, Mike Carroll said.

In 1965, he joined the Springfield schools in Holland and stayed there until he retired in 1989.

At Springfield, Mr. Carroll at various times was principal at Holland and Dorr Street elementary schools and at the junior high and was curriculum director.

Michael Carroll said his father was a coach in some capacity or other all his life.

He had a love of history, particularly from the U.S. Civil War period onward, his son said. That interest was evident in his passion for researching and collecting antiques.

"It was mostly old wooden objects such as china cabinets and hutches," his son said.

Michael Carroll said his father spent hours stripping paint-encrusted pieces off furniture to reveal the fine detail underneath, even if it meant using a toothbrush to restore details. Once the object was restored, it seldom left the house. "I don't think he ever sold anything," he said. "He was a collector at heart."

His love of antiques extended to coin collecting and automobiles, including a 1936 Packard and a 1936 Ford, which he restored and drove occasionally.

Michael Carroll said his father was a compassionate man who "could never say no to anyone. He would help people out who maybe didn't have a place to stay."

His love of sports continued after he retired, and he would often attend sporting events involving his son and his grandson Steve, Michael Carroll said.

Mr. Carroll is survived by his son, Michael Carroll; daughter, Lynne Carroll; five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; sisters, Virginia Ellerbrock and Wilma Box, and brother, Mahlin Carroll.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Neville Funeral Home in Holland, with the funeral conducted at 7:30 p.m.

Memorials are suggested to the Springfield High School Athletic Boosters.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: jsielicki@theblade.com, or 419-724-6050



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