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Published: Wednesday, 4/3/2013

Howard R. “Sandy” McPeck, Jr., 1941-2013

Former teacher an advocate who inspired students

McPeck McPeck

Howard R. “Sandy” McPeck, Jr., 71, a former teacher and assistant headmaster at Maumee Valley Country Day School who inspired students of many backgrounds, died March 23 in Venice Regional Medical Center, Venice, Fla.

He had a rare obstructive lung disease that developed over several weeks. He and his wife, Susan, lived the last 19 years in Marion, Mass., and were on vacation in Florida when his condition worsened.

Mr. McPeck, formerly of Front Street in Perrysburg, left Maumee Valley in 1994 after 27 years. He taught English in the upper school and coached soccer. He was director of admissions for some time.

“He mentored the students and made learning literature fun,” said his daughter Alex, who attended Maumee Valley, as did her two siblings. After her father died, she received an outpouring of messages from her classmates. Some called him “the best and most important teacher I ever had” and “a wise man I will never forget.”

Chuck Lundholm, a retired Maumee Valley English teacher, said his colleague was a hard worker and a good team player who had principles — and an easy laugh.

“He was smart and well educated, and he liked kids, and he enjoyed classroom banter,” Mr. Lundholm said.

He was assistant headmaster in the early 1990s and was a leader in making students and staff sensitive to the racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, and even economic variation among students at the Reynolds Road school. Mr. McPeck told The Blade in 1991 that some parents said they wanted their children at Maumee Valley because it was a prep school for Toledo’s rich and famous.

“We recoil from that,” Mr. McPeck told The Blade. Mr. McPeck’s and the school’s approach was to address the tensions and benefits of diversity and to celebrate difference, stressing “a tossed salad rather than a melting pot,” Mr. McPeck told The Blade.

His daughter said, “He was an advocate for all kinds of people.”

Mr. McPeck closed his career in Massachusetts, where he taught English for a decade at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. Most students were learning a trade and worked after school to support their families.

“That was the cherry on the cake, because at the end of the day he liked working with those kids who maybe were not as privileged,” his daughter said.

His wife said: “He earned their respect.”

Born May 22, 1941, in New Bedford, Mass., he grew up in Washington, where his parents had a real estate firm, and attended St. Albans School. He received an undergraduate degree from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., and then taught at Metairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, La.

He received a master of arts and teaching from Brown University.

He was formerly married to Deborah Mitchell McPeck.

Surviving are his wife, Susan McPeck, whom he married June 22, 1991; daughters, Sarah Shaw and Alexandra Beverly; son, Bennett McPeck; stepsons, Christian Kaldes and Andrew Atwill; stepdaughters, Nicole Goehl and Suzanne Atwill; sister, Eleanor McPeck; five grandchildren, and four stepgrandchildren.

Services will be private at his request. The family suggests tributes in his name to the Schooner Ernestina Fund — to help maintain the 19th-century ship on which he once sailed — in care of Eastern Bank in Marion, Mass.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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