Former curator of Butler County war monument who ‘loved history’ dies at 72

Don Shollenbarger, who served for 16 years as senior curator of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton, died last week at Fort Hamilton Hospital. He was 72.

After Shollenbarger retired in 2015, the monument closed for repairs. During Shollenbarger’s time there, he cared for the myriad of uniforms, artifacts of wars like cannons and bayonets, documents, books and other memorabilia dating back to the Civil War.

He had such a wealth of knowledge, the county created a documentary featuring Shollenbarger giving a tour of the monument.

“He loved everything about that monument,” said his wife, Princess, 72. “He loved history.”

MORE: Repairs slated for county’s Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument

Her husband frequently went to the basement of the monument, picked out books and read them in the lobby.

When the monument, located at 1 S. Monument Ave., reopened in 2018, Butch Frederick had the task of replacing Shollenbarger. He said Shollenbarger sometimes visited the monument after he retired, and each visit included another history lesson, Frederick said.

“He had all the knowledge of the monument,” said Frederick, 72. “He loved history, so he enjoyed the time he spent here. He was a history buff.”

Shollenbarger graduated from Hamilton High School, attended Miami University, and was a Vietnam veteran of the U. S. Army from 1969-75. He was honored with a Purple Heart during his military career.

He later was an Ohio National Guardsman, retiring after 22 years of military service. He also was employed by Butler County as maintenance supervisor for buildings and grounds. When he retired as curator, he had 43 years of county service.

“He just loved Butler County,” his wife said. “He was just that type of man.”

He was a member of Amvets Post No. 193, American Legion Post No. 138 and Fairfield VFW Post No. 1069.

The Shollenbargers were married 43 years ago on Jan. 3, Don’s birthday. He never wanted to forget his anniversary, his wife said.

“I miss him so much,” she said. “We kissed every day. He never left without bending down and giving me a kiss first.”

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Michael (Amy) Harrison, Monroe; two sisters, Donna (Charles) Baker, Hamilton and Robin (Charles) Lakes, Arizona, two grandchildren, Devin (Ryan) Johnson and Michael D. Harrison, and two great-grandchildren, Jacob and Olivia Johnson.

His funeral services were held earlier this week at Weigel Funeral Home.

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