Trustee Achievement Award
Roger McKinley Paxton, the son of Hugh and Bess Paxton, was born in Hayesville on October 26, 1905. His family later moved to Ashland where he spent most of his life. An all-around athlete, Dod (a nickname he acquired as a teenager) played on the varsity basketball team, baseball, and football teams at Ashland High School in 1921-1924. While lettering three times in each in basketball and baseball and once in football, he was elected captain of the baseball and basketball squad during his junior and senior years. Leading the basketball team to a North Central Ohio League championship with an 11-4 record in 1924, Dod was regarded as an excellent ball handler and accurate shooter. Conference sportswriters predicted that the ’24 quintet would not win one game. Two of the team’s additional accomplishments included defeated Mansfield High twice and winning nine straight games, both firsts in the history of Ashland High School basketball.
Adventurous as well as athletic, Dod spent six months “on the road” during the summers of 1923 and 1924 riding freight trains, hitch-hiking and traveling in a Model T Ford from Ashland to Yellowstone Park. Yellowstone officials hired him to work with the park rangers. On one of his return trips to Ashland he experienced a harrowing situation as the train passed by the Illinois State Penitentiary and he observed a prison chain gang working adjacent to the railroad tracks. Needless to say, Dod closed the boxcar doors quickly and laid on the car’s floor. It was at this time that he began to compose poetry and short stories with which he later regaled his wife, children, and grand -children.
After graduation from Ashland High School, Dod continued his athletic career by playing basketball and baseball for two years at Ashland College (1924-1926), where he started games as guard and as a catcher. Noted as a tenacious defensive stalwart who held his opponent to a few baskets, Dod developed into one of Ashland College’s top scorers. Consequently, he received an All-Ohio Non Conference Honorable Mention basketball award as a freshman. His baseball exploits were equally impressive. Touted as an outstanding receiver with a powerful arm, Dod was a good hitter and was judged to have a very valuable contribution to Ashland College’s success. Transferring to Stanford University in 1926, he played one year as catcher on the Cardinals baseball squad. In the summer of 1928 Stanford’s baseballers spent two months touring the Pacific where they played teams in Australia and visited New Zealand, Samoa, the Fiji Islands and Hawaii. To acquire funds for living expenses at Stanford, Dod coached baseball and basketball at the nearby Pacific Coast Military Academy at Menlo Park.
Following a one year stint of teaching and coaching at Chatfield High School in Crawford County, Dod returned to Ashland in 1930 when he began a forty-two year Ashland High School teaching career as an American Literature instructor. Appointed as Ashland High School’s baseball coach that year, he proceeded to direct the baseball program for nine seasons. Three of his teams attained considerable success. The 1935 squad won a conference title with an 11-1 record while the 1936 team advanced to the Ohio State Quarter Finals and the 1933 contingent reached the state’s semi-finals before bowing out. The two latter teams overall records were nine wins and three losses and eleven wins and three losses respectively. During the 1930’s Dod participation in athletics was not restricted to the role of a high school coach. In the summer he was the regular catcher for the semi-pro Ashland Flyers baseball team and in the winter Dod was a starting guard for Nate Strauss basketball squad.
Prior to his retirement in 1972, Dod served as Dean of Boys at Ashland High School for twenty-three years and was honored as the 1955 Senior Class guide dedicatee. In 1970 he was the recipient of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce’s “Teacher of the Year” award. As Dean, Dod introduced a novel idea, which accommodated students who skipped school in order to go hunting in the fall. He “invited” these errant students to join his “Hunter’s Club” which held its meetings at the end of the school day. One of Dod’s administrative responsibilities was to locate and retrieve students who disappeared from the high school premises during the regular class hours. Nardini’s and the downtown pool hall were the most popular haunts. Over the entire span of his deanly tenure, he made over two thousand home visitations to talk with ill or injured students. In addition, he counseled students not only in their choice of courses of study, but also in their personal problems and conflicts.
Dod married Lucille Johnson on August 27, 1930 and they raised a family of three children. Marilyn (Tallman), Roger V. and Holly (Smalley). Dod died on July 29, 1983 and Lucille passed away on August 1, 1994.
Nominator: Doug Denbow