• 61°

OUS scholarship established in late educator#039;s name

Ironton native Harold Wesley Shafer dedicated his life to being an educator and his legacy will benefit graduating Ironton High School education majors attending Ohio University Southern for years to come.

Members of Shafer's family were at Ohio University Southern Friday to announce a donation of $100,000 to establish the Harold W. Shafer Scholarship Fund.

"We have wanted to do this for a long time," Richard Blair, Shafer's grandson, said. "We were waiting for the right moment."

"We wanted to give something back to the community," he said. "Education is where you start to rebuild. You can help an entire community by teaching a few who can then help hundreds."

Shafer was born in Lawrence County and was a life-long educator in the Tri-State area. He is the son of E.T. and Rita Shafer, one of eight children, five of which became schoolteachers.

In 1918, at the age of 17, he began teaching in Waterloo in a one room school house. In 1933, he graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Industrial Education.

He began teaching in the Ironton school system the next year and coached grade school basketball at Campbell Elementary, Central Elementary and Ironton High School. He worked as an educator for more than 55 years in the Ironton and Ashland area.

During this time, he is credited with establishing the first girls' high school basketball team in the area long before Title IX was implemented. Shafer passed away in 1979.

Dean of OUS Dan Evans said the university is excited and honored to establish a scholarship in Shafer's memory.

"We want you to know you are providing for the future and fulfilling the dreams of many young people who will go out into the world," Evans said to the family.

"Only through private individuals who are generous and forward thinking can we keep costs competitive, attract bright students and expand facilities," he said.

Shafer's daughter Carolyn Shafer-Reeves said she thinks her father would be proud because of his tremendous love for education.

"He would be so honored," she said. "He loved the students in Lawrence County."

"We hope this will help provide Lawrence County with many more quality teachers for the future," she said.

The first scholarship will be awarded next May for the 2003-2004 term.

One student will be awarded a $1,250 scholarship. During the second year, two students will receive a $1,250 scholarship. The third year, three students will receive a scholarship. During the fourth year and every year there after, four students will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

Scholarship status will be reviewed annually and the students can renew the awards each year if they meet the 3.0 grade point average and are enrolled full time. Students are only eligible for a maximum of four years.

The contribution was added to the five-year Ohio University Bicentennial Campaign that began last year. The university has raised $2.8 million of the $5 million goal, Evans said.

In addition to Shafer's grandson, Richard, and daughter, Carolyn; Blair' s wife Debra Blair; Carolyn's husband, Everett Reeves and Shafer's daughter Rita Blair attended the announcement. Richard said Shafer's other children Mary McMackin and Tom Shafer were also behind the donation. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune