Teacher respected in class, on court


Timothy Steward, a teacher who made mathematics real for students and a basketball coach whose intensity — and respect — motivated players, died May 24, in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. He was 54.

He lived in Arbors at Sylvania the last three years, his mother, Jane Steward, said. He dealt the last 20 years with complications from a tumor on his brain stem. He took a sabbatical from teaching at Sylvania Northview High School when he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. He walked and kept his balance with some difficulty, but he returned to the classroom for nine more years.

“It was sheer willpower,” his mother said. “He made himself go to the classroom. It must have been difficult with all the physical problems he had.”

He retired on disability more than five years ago, she said.

Mr. Steward, formerly of West Toledo, taught algebra and geometry for nearly 20 years at Northview. Geometry could be the most gratifying to teach — and for some students especially tough to grasp.

“He loved watching them, after six or seven weeks, finally getting it,” his mother said. His message, she said, was ‘You can do it, and you’re going to need it.’

“He liked the practical side of mathematics,” she said.

The junior varsity boys he coached at Northview could be heard talking about his classes.

“He made math real. It wasn’t just some abstract subject,” said Dave Ross, who began coaching as an assistant to Mr. Steward and went on to be head boys’ coach at Woodward and Bowsher high schools. “He was good at applying it to everyday situations they’d encounter.

“Tim taught me a lot. He was a phenomenal coach, period,” Mr. Ross said. “He didn’t talk down to kids. He treated them like peers, but there was a respect there, and the kids really looked up to him. Tim got a lot of kids ready for varsity basketball, and they went on to have good careers.”

Terry Shadle, a player on Mr. Steward’s junior varsity team in the late 1980s, went on to play varsity ball and has been Northview's boys’ varsity head coach since 2007.

“He was definitely what you would call a players’ coach — very high energy,” Mr. Shadle said. “He was as passionate as there was. He was an extreme competitor. He loved being part of the program.”

Mr. Steward no longer coached at Northview after his brain surgery. He did coach a Lucas County Special Olympics basketball team for several years.

“He said it was one of the most rewarding things he’d ever done,” his mother said.

He was born April 4, 1959, to Jane and Ralph Steward and grew up at Lakeside, Ohio. He was a 1977 graduate of Danbury High School, where he was a guard on the basketball team.

He liked math in high school and aspired to teach, his mother said. He received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics education from Bowling Green State University. He later received a master of education degree from the University of Toledo.

He began his career teaching math and coaching in the Greenon Local Schools in Clark County. Afterward, he taught a year in the Springfield Local Schools. He did not marry.

He was a member of Epworth United Methodist Church.

His father died in 1993.

Surviving are his mother, Jane Steward; sisters, Nancy Murray, and Judy Borzilleri, and brothers, Larry, Bradley, and Scott Steward.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. June 14 in Lakeside United Methodist Church, Lakeside, Ohio.

The family suggests tributes to the Lakeside Fund in care of the Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation, Lakeside, Ohio, or Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania.

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