Paul C. Cothrel (1932-2018)

Principal aimed for children’s happiness


Paul C. Cothrel, a longtime Fulton County school principal whose childhood challenges helped form his career as an educator, died Tuesday in Carroll Place, an assisted-living community in Carroll, Ohio. He was 85.

He had congestive heart failure, said his son Steve Cothrel.


Mr. Cothrel served on the Evergreen Board of Education in the late 1990s through 2001 after 26 years as an administrator in the district.

He retired in January, 1993, as principal of Fulton Elementary School. Part of any day as principal might include playing baseball with the students.

“I want the children to be happy. I want them to feel welcome at school,” Mr. Cothrel told The Blade as he prepared to step away as principal. “I want them to know that they are Number One. I have strived to make school an atmosphere that is enjoyable for teachers and children.”

Earlier, he was principal of the Lyons, Chesterfield, and Metamora schools. He also worked with students whose families were migrant farm workers in the district.

He started his career teaching in the Mason school district of Erie, Mich., and then taught for four years at Lagrange School in Toledo.

“Paul was fair, very fair,” said Ted Arvanitis, a colleague at Lagrange who played with Mr. Cothrel on adult softball and basketball teams and remained a friend. “And we respected him. There was no one he couldn’t talk to. He remembered a lot of names, of students and also the parents.”

Born Nov. 21, 1932, to Helen Racheter, he had cerebral palsy that weakened his right arm and leg. His mother believed she was in no position to rear him, his son said, and for much of his childhood he lived in a series of institutions, including the Florence Crittenton Home, the Miami Children’s Home in Maumee, and St. Anthony Orphanage, as well as in foster homes.

He was 16 years old when he went to live with his mother and her new husband, Tom Cothrel, who adopted him — “an interesting adjustment for all involved,” his son said.

“He chose education as a career objective because his childhood was so difficult,” his son said. “He devoted the rest of his life to making childhood better for thousands of other children.”

He graduated from Central Catholic High School and obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bowling Green State University.

He and the former Janet Smith met while teaching in the Mason schools. They married in October, 1956. She died Jan. 8, 2016.

Surviving are his sons Steve, Tim, and Andrew Cothrel, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Friday at Walker Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the Evergreen Local Schools Scholarship Fund.

Contact Mark Zaborney at or 419-724-6182.