Recent alumni passings of note:
Rita Allman Halco '44
Rita was another of our WHS 70+ "high school sweethearts" along with her husband Andy ('42). She was the Quality Assurance Inspector at Central States Cans and an avid Tigers, Browns, and Indians fan along with anything her grandchildren did.
John Tsocheff '44
John could speak six languages and was often the neighborhood translator! He served in the Navy during World War II and became a 75-year member of the American Legion Post 221 where he established the John Tsocheff Military Museum. He was also active in keeping his "shop class" from WHS together by organizing various reunions through the years.
Michael Halco '46
Michael was not only a dedicated member of his class, but was often at the Class of 1945's reunions as well! He served in the Army during the post-war years and was active in the American Legion Post 221.
Jane Shilling Mazon '46
Jane was also active in many of her class reunions through the years. Long before "empowered" women would become a talking point, Jane was just that here locally as the director of the Emergency Room at Massillon City/Community Hospital, a job that encompassed so many facets of nursing care that so many in our community of Western Stark County owe their lives to her and those that worked alongside her. Jane held Tiger season tickets for 70 years and was an avid traveler, puzzle solver, and always up for a good game of cards.
Andrew Botschner '47
Andrew was president of the student council his senior year at WHS. After graduating from Western Reserve University, he served in the medical corps during the Korean War. After the war he graduated again from Western Reserve with his medical degree and became a local fixture in the Stark County medical community as an OB/GYN physician at Aultman Hospital where he served on various boards during his tenure. He was active in the medical community in too many ways to list in this small tribute, but it should be noted that while serving as the Perry football team physician for ten years, he remained a lifelong Tiger fan.
Barbara Mertes '48
Barbara graduated from the Massillon City Hospital School of Nursing and went on to get her bachelor's and master's in nursing to return to the local school and serve as its director for 26 years. Eventually she would be named as the "Dean Emeritus" of the school upon its closing and served as the Director of Development for the hospital. Barbara was another woman of our community who had reached such a level of leadership in our community, but because of the era, she was under-recognized for her achievements.
Miriam Busse Preece '48
Miriam was a proud graduate of the WHS Centennial class and another of the long list of grads who made teaching their career. She taught special education at Newman, Jackson, and Lorin Andrews as well as adult education classes at the Massillon State Hospital. Miriam and her family traveled to all 50 states during the summers and rarely missed a Massillon football game.
Evelyn Provitt '48
Evelyn was a Distinguished Citizen of the WHSAA. She worked her way through nursing, obtaining her master's degree from Wayne State University before entering a nearly 50-year career in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in Washington, DC. After retiring, she served in Egypt as a consultant before returning to Massillon.
Mary Ann Girt Smith '49
Mary Ann honed her baking and candy making skills by working at the Massillon Sugar Bowl that she then used throughout her life to treat others. Quietly behind the scenes she was probably one of the most dedicated volunteers of this community putting in countless hours at churches and schools in the local Catholic community.
Frank Fischer '49
Frank served in the 8th Army during the Korean conflict after his WHS graduation. He received his engineering degree and returned to Massillon where he embarked on a 50-year career of civil service to the Stark County community and the Ohio Department of Transportation including the Stark County Engineer for 16 years. He was active in many local charity and school organizations.
Reinna Holmes Cole '50
Reinna was a majorette in the Tiger Swing Band and her forever moment of fame was captured by an unknown photographer as she danced with the band mascot, Obie the Tiger (Bob Heintzelman '50), which one the Eastman Kodak national photography contest in its category.
Mary Conkle Harris '53
Mary was so enamored by her experience in the WHS choirs, especially The Messiah, she kept active as a singer in her church choir and the local Larry Wilgus Chorus throughout her adult life. Mary was a teacher but will always be known for her leadership roles in the local girl scouts, Faith Lutheran Church, the Massillon City Woman's Club, and of course as the mother of the first lady "Obie the Tiger" band mascot - Cheryl Harris Engler ('75)
Howard Johnson '58
Howard was perhaps one of the most notable musicians to graduate from the WHS band programs. In high school he played both the tuba and the baritone saxophone. After service in the US Navy, Howard worked his way into the jazz music scene starting in Chicago. He played with many jazz artists of the 1960's and is on at least six recordings. He was the band leader of the original Saturday Night Live band for five years and can be seen on the famous "King Tut" clip, playing the saxophone. He also had minor appearances in moves and television shows. His accomplishments are too many to list, but are certainly worth looking up on Wikipedia. There is a Howard Johnson Tuba Jazz Program Fund at Penn State University that is accepting memorials in his name. Howard, a WHSAA Distinguished Citizen, was so highly regarded in his field that his picture and obituary were published in the New York Times.
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James Dekan '62
James played on the Tiger football teams during the Leo Strang years. He then served in the US Air Force supporting the Strategic Air Command B-52 Bomber fleet and was honorably discharged in 1966. He then went on to work for NASA during the Apollo and Saturn years by maintaining the astronauts' training jets. In the private work sector he worked at Cooper Industries/Eaton Corporation working his way up to the Director of Flight Maintenance from which he retired. Jim had many diverse hoppy interests of which he especially loved motorcycling and watching the Tigers on Massillon Live.
Thomas McCloud '62
Thomas was a Tiger Swing Band and Ohio State University marching band alumnus. His research into plants and plant extracts for cancer research led him to complete the largest known register of this kind in the world, at the National Products Extractions Laboratory in Frederick, Maryland (just outside Washington, DC). Tom was active in his class reunions and often returned to Massillon to lead his classmates on fishing, camping, and canoeing trips. Tom is a WHSAA Distinguished Citizen.
Edward Radel '62
Edward became and educator and both taught and coached in the Massillon and Jackson Township schools. He will be remembered for his 24 years service as the Massillon Clerk of Courts as well as his service on the Massillon Board of Education. He was active in many facets of his church and local organizations, and of course was always there at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium!
David Hammer '62
David was a 35-year employee of the State of Ohio serving as a hearings officer for the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission. His hobbies are what made him truly remarkable: from stamp and coin collecting to photography, ham radio operator to avid reader and traveler, and somewhere in between he fit in keeping up with his Massillon Tigers.
Jody Heskett Flara '74
Jody was that exceptional educator who went beyond the last bell of the school day. She taught English at Heritage Christian School and Berea Community High School where she was acitve as a faculty advisor to the senior classes for all their social school activities. She was also involved with the school's travel club and chaperoned trips to England, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Peru. A fan of Shakespeare, she directed the school's drama club and produced four performances each year. She was named a BCHS Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ron taught science in his 40-year career here in the Massillon Schools as well as the Canton City School District. His West Virginia drawl and quick wit made him a memorable mentor to his students of both communities. He remained an avid Tiger fan and about the only thing you could not tease him about were the WVU Mountaineer football teams.
Susan was a 36-year educator and guidance counselor in the Massillon City Schools and often the champion for the difficult child. She went on to the Canton City Schools to work in the adult education program there. She was also a trustee of the Massillon Education Loan Foundation.