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With Penta Career Center's new $90.6 million school campus in the works, J. Ellsworth Shamp can watch the upcoming construction knowing he helped promote the original construction of what was then called Penta County Vocational High School.
Mr. Shamp, 90, who lives near Pearson Metropark in Oregon, said he promoted the school because he felt the need to give something back to the community that he's lived in for nearly a century.
Mr. Shamp was born in 1914 in Chicago, and was orphaned when he was 9 years old, after losing his parents and grandmother, who raised him. His uncle, a Lake Township farmer, adopted him and he grew up on a farm until the farm was lost during the Great Depression.
Mr. Shamp then graduated from Lake High School before graduating from Tri-State Business College in downtown Toledo.
In 1935, Mr. Shamp married his wife, Verla, and landed a job in a laboratory at the Dupont factory in West Toledo. He stuck with the company for 43 years and celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with his wife this year.
The couple raised two sons and a daughter who, like their parents, attended Lake Local schools, which is when Mr. Shamp decided to give back to the school district.
When opportunity knocked in the late 1950s, and Mr. Shamp was asked to finish a term for a deceased Lake Local school board member, he said he gladly accepted the spot to help improve his alma mater.
"He was very active and positive," said Pemberville resident Chet Herrington, 88, who served on the school board with Mr. Shamp for six years.
In Mr. Shamp's decade-long stint as a school board member - six of which he was school board president - he said he helped adopt an insurance program to increase coverage at a better price, and joined two school buildings together so students from both schools could have access to a complete set of school-approved library books.
Mr. Herrington said Mr. Shamp was also instrumental in saving enough money to obtain lights and bleachers for evening football games, and he helped get a levy passed.
"I can't think of anything now that wasn't accomplished," Mr. Shamp said. "I did all I felt I wanted to do."
But, Mr. Shamp said his biggest accomplishment was paving the way for a local vocational school that now offers various programs to students in 16 area school districts in five area counties.
"We discussed it on the school board, but he was the main push trying to get it done," Mr. Herrington said.
Mr. Shamp said he visited Columbus and Washington, D.C. to fulfill what he said was his mission as school board president: To make sure the students got a proper education to prepare them for the working world.
"We hadn't given them the education for facing the world," he said. "I felt guilty not doing the job right for the students not going to college."
Mr. Shamp's efforts paid off in the form of what is now called Penta Career Center, which sits off Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township in buildings converted from a U.S. Army depot built in 1949.
The new school campus will be on 144 acres in Perrysburg Township, and will accommodate about 2,000 students. This will allow Penta, which now serves about 1,200 high school juniors and seniors on its main campus, to begin vocational programs for sophomores.
Construction is slated to begin during the 2005-06 school year and be completed in 2009.
"It's still important, though more people are going to college," Mr. Shamp said. "But they are still attending there."
Contact Erika Ray