Scott Marshall, Springboro Schools communications director, said the district was notified of McCandless’s gift after her death and the money was received after the estate was closed last month. He said for the past several weeks, district officials have been trying to figure out why she left such an amount to Springboro Schools.
District officials have never seen a gift of this size before at the high school level.
“We want to get it out there and see if anyone knew her,” he said. “We want to know more about her so we can spend the money the way she would have wanted.”
Marshall said her gift is something that will impact students for the next 50 years.
McCandless was born in March 1939 in Middletown, and lived and went to school in Franklin. Her father Max died at a young age and she was raised by her mother, Winnie. Patricia McCandless died in November 2018 and is buried with her parents at Woodhill Cemetery.
Former Franklin Mayor Jim Mears was a classmate of McCandless when they were sixth-graders at Anthony Wayne Elementary School through their graduation as members of Franklin High School’s class of 1957.
Mears said their sixth grade teacher was Ray Perez, who later was their homeroom and social studies/American history teacher at Franklin High School.
According to school yearbooks, McCandless was active in various school clubs and activities, and served as class treasurer as well a president of the National Honor Society her senior year. She also was a member of the school’s Future Teachers of America club.
McCandless was also a homecoming candidate during her senior year and a candidate for Sweetheart Princess as a junior and senior. in their high school superlatives, her classmates voted her “most likely to succeed.”
Mears described McCandless as a “nice, attractive girl” and that “she was really smart.”
McCandless was also described as being kind, studious and a hard worker who kept to herself.
After graduating from Franklin High, McCandless went to Miami University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1961. After graduation, she applied for a teaching position at Clearcreek High School. The superintendent at the time was a familiar face, Ray Perez, who hired her as an English teacher.
Mears believes the mentoring and impact that Perez made on McCandless is the reason why she made such a gift to Springboro Schools.
“He had a lot of faith in her and gave her a job,” Mears said.
Mears said over the years, McCandless came to a couple of class reunions. He said she never married or had children and was frugal with her money.
Patricia McCandless, far right, was active in various clubs and organizations while a student at Franklin High School. She served as treasurer of the class of 1957 and president of the National Honor Society. McCandless left her nearly $500K estate to Springboro Schools for student scholarships. The other class of 1957 officers included, from left were vice president Rita Hatton, secretary Arlene Swink; president Vernon Helton; and McCandless. CONTRIBUTED
During her tenure as a Clearcreek English teacher, McCandless continued her education, earning 43 graduate credit hours in English and American literature from Miami.
After receiving her Master’s degree from Indiana University in 1970, McCandless went on to a 20-year career with the University of Illinois Library System at Urbana- Champaign. In 1990, she became associate director of the Ohio State University Libraries in Columbus until she retired in 2005.
Marshall said McCandless also published two research articles in the library science field.
McCandless, who lived in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus, was was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia after she retired from Ohio State, according to her obituary. She was cared for by neighbors, friends, colleagues, a childhood friend and caregivers until her death in 2018.
Marshall said a committee will be established in July with Springboro High School staff, central office staff, community members and some people who knew McCandless. While McCandless wanted the donation to go toward scholarships, Marshall said the committee will establish the scholarship fund, and how to commemorate her gift.
Anyone with more information about McCandless is asked to contact Marshall at 937-748-3960, extension 6014.