Calvin Lawshe (1947-2018)

Retired Toledo official ‘truly a public servant’


Calvin Lawshe, a retired city official and University of Toledo professor and administrator, who first won public notice as a star high school athlete, died Wednesday at St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee. He was 71.


His wife, Vicki Lawshe, said he had health problems recently and was believed to suffer cardiac arrest.

Mr. Lawshe was economic development director in the administration of Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and commissioner of economic development for Mayor Mike Bell.

“[He was] truly a public servant who cared about this city,” said Ms. Hicks-Hudson, who was mayor through 2017. She said Mr. Lawshe in recent years started or finished many of Toledo’s major projects, including the Cleveland-Cliffs plant in development at the port and the move downtown of ProMedica headquarters.

Bernard “Pete” Culp, a director of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and friend since the 1960s, said: “He was one of the most influential guys I witnessed in this community in the last 50 years.

“We were so proud he was never for himself. It was always about helping somebody else,” said Mr. Culp, citing Mr. Lawshe’s roles at UT and his coaching youth basketball alongside Mr. Culp and Ed Scrutchins, the longtime City League commissioner.

Mr. Scrutchins said: “He was a great communicator. His friends varied from administrators to players and coaches. He cared about everybody.”

Mr. Lawshe retired in 2002 from UT after nearly 30 years. He had been a professor of business technologies and closed his tenure as assistant to the president for community relations and interim vice president for student services. He served on the search committee that selected as a finalist current UT President Sharon Gaber.

He served as director of the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions from 2007-2012. Mayor Mike Bell hired Mr. Lawshe in 2013 to be an economic development official.

“Calvin had the ability to be a diplomat,” Mr. Bell said. “People met him and liked him, and in order to do economic development or any sort of business, they have to like you first. Working with Calvin was almost like working with someone in your family He would be the person who would bring about a mature point of view, but have humor. He was positive and didn’t have much time for negative stuff.”

Mr. Lawshe as plan director in 2008 supported then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s challenge to the U.S. Census Bureau for underestimating the city’s population. And in advance of the 2010 tally, he served as a co-chairman of Mr. Finkbeiner’s Everyone Counts Committee.

“He did not ever short change the truth,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “Calvin was a leader, and he cared about other people.’’

He was born Jan. 24, 1947, to Josephine Moore and Calvin Lawshe. He was a 1965 graduate of Macomber Vocational High School, where he was regarded as a scoring star on the basketball court and one of the best high jumpers in the region. In 1965, He became the first basketball player signed by then-new UT head coach Bob Nichols. He received bachelor and master degrees in business administration from UT.

He was in the City League Hall of Fame, inducted in 2008, as was Jim Jackson, the former Macomber, Ohio State, and NBA player who as a youth played on Mr. Lawshe’s AAU team.

Surviving are his wife, Vicki, whom he married May 20, 1989; daughters, Kamaria Boatman and Kara Lawshe-Fullen; son, Lance; sisters, Emma Wardlaw and Carol Cole; brothers, Charles Cole and David and Larry Lawshe, and five grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Perfecting Church Toledo, where he was a member. Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Perfecting Church Toledo, with visitation after 10 a.m. Arrangement are by the House of Day Funeral Service.

Contact Mark Zaborney at or 419-724-6182.