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Educator remembered for community service

SOUTH POINT — A South Point man is being remembered for his longtime commitment to education and the community.

Donald Allen “Blondie” Sands died at home Thursday at the age of 90.

Sands served for four years on the South Point Board of Education, as well as time on the Ironton Board of Education, the first vocational school board in the county and Ohio University Southern’s advisory board. He also taught business courses at Shawnee State University.

South Point Superintendent Mark Christian said Sands was on the board of education when he was first hired by the district and described him as “a super smart guy who worked over a lot of people in different capacities.”

He said Sands was outgoing and held knowledge on a wide array of subjects.

“Anything you talked about, he knew something about,” Christian said. “He was a nice and interesting guy.”
He said Sands, who helped set up a vocational school in the county, was instrumental in helping many obtain education.

“He was a big champion of people going an learning a trade,” Christian said.

Sands, who was retired as a consultant for Allied Chemical Company was active throughout his community. He was a member of South Point United Methodist Church for more than 50 years, worked with the Lawrence County Special Olympics, and served as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts Troop 115.

South Point school board member Jack Nuckols knew Sands for more than 30 years and worked with him in the scouts.

“He was an all around good guy, with lots of ideas,” he said. “He was a good community man, with lots of ideas.”
Sands served on the board of education while Nuckols was a teacher at South Point High School.

Nuckols said Sands was committed to schools, including his work in getting grants for OUS and noted that his daughter has continued in education.

Sands’ community involvement led to his being named Lawrence County’s Citizen of the Year in 1994 by The Tribune.

His grandson, Ethan Fitzpatrick, of South Point, remembered Sands’ for his caring.

“He wanted to help all kids out,” he said. “One of concerns was at Christmas and making sure kids in Ironton got a present,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said his grandfather went out on his own to obtain the gifts and never sought credit or recognition for his efforts.

“He just wanted to do it,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said Sands always enjoyed working with students.

“He loved going to schools, doing things like the science fair and being a judge,” he said.

Sands is survived by two children, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren and his wife, Mary Lou Norris Sands, who was his high school sweetheart. The couple were together for more than 70 years.

“He loved everyone,” Fitzpatrick said. He definitely loved my grandmother. Every night, he would write a letter to her and lay out a flower, so that when she got up and went downstairs, she could read it.”