Longtime Xenia school board member Spahr dies at 70

William “Bill” Spahr, who colleagues say thought the world of his family and smartly — and calmly — unified the Xenia Community Schools Board of Education for 27 years, died Thursday. He was 70.

Spahr’s death ends a decades-long career in education that touched many throughout the region. He taught industrial and computer technology in the Fairborn City School District for 42 years and also served almost 30 years with the Greene County Career Center Board of Education.

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But Spahr’s top priority was his family, said friend and colleague Denny Morrison, former Xenia schools superintendent.

“First for him was always family. He always talked and bragged on his family. He just loved them so much,” said Morrison, who also worked with Spahr in the Fairborn district.

“He always did the right thing. He always did what he thought was best for the school district; what he thought was best for his family; what he thought was best for kids,” Morrison said. “He was just a great guy.”

A graduate of Xenia High School, Central State University and the University of Dayton, Spahr married Jerra Jeanne Wilson in 1970. Their family grew from two daughters to six grandchildren.

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Spahr was a past recipient of the Ohio School Board Associations’ Award of Achievement. In 2014, the city of Xenia deemed a “William Spahr Day” for his efforts advocating for agricultural education. And just last month, Spahr was recognized at a statewide conference for school leaders for longtime work on the Xenia school board.

Dr. Robert Dillaplain, a Xenia school board member, said Spahr remained “the glue that bound the Xenia Board of Education together” through good times and some bad, including a funding crisis in the 1990s and stretches during which voters rejected school levy after school levy.

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“Through stormy years and radiant years, he approached every complex issue never raising his voice, always smiling, and remaining calm,” Dillaplain said. “He believed in unity of action since only through unity can all of us fulfill our primary mission — the education of tomorrow’s citizens and leaders.”

Dillaplain said Spahr’s first-hand experience as an educator lent perspective to the board that helped inform innumerable decisions.

“Bill was a teacher. He was concerned that we all thoroughly understand everything that was going down at a board meeting,” Dillaplain said.

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Fellow board member Jennifer Marietta said she lost a friend and the community lost a champion for equal opportunity.

“I’m going to miss him a whole lot. He was just the sweetest, most thoughtful person,” Marietta said. “He was always very supportive of strong women and felt they had a lot to give to the community, which was a very unique perspective in government.”

A service to celebrate Spahr’s life is at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Xenia Nazarene Church, 1204 W. Second St., Xenia. He will be buried at Woodland Cemetery in Xenia. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Greene County Community Foundation, William D. Spahr Memorial College Scholarship Fund, 941 W. Second St., Xenia or online at www.greenegiving.org.

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