Two former students of “Alvordton University” will be among the three inductees to Millcreek-West Unity Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
After a two-year break, the Hall of Fame once again inducted new members. The trio includes Alice Marie (Traxler) Tressler, Mike McGuire, and Bob Short. The school is planning to honor the three at its Honors Night in May. The honorees will get a chance to talk about how Hilltop prepared them for success in life, Superintendent Larry Long said.
The program is in its infancy yet as the school had to find a sizeable pool of nominees to choose from first, Long said. An initial class of three has been the lone honorees since the program began three years ago, he said,
Long brought the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame concept with him from Napoleon Schools. He envisions it as a way for current students to gain confidence that they too can go to greater achievements by attending Hilltop.
The school will recognize people for their lives after high school, Long said.
For Tressler, this will be a posthumous honor. She graduated from West Unity High School in 1940 and became active in the community around 1950. She once had the Hilltop Yearbook dedicated to her for her significant role to the students.
Tressler was the administrative secretary to the district’s superintendent for many years. According to a letter submitted by her family, her life of service did not come to light until after her death in 2010.
Among her accomplishments:
• A member of the original board of Williams County Hospice, she was instrumental in finding the organization’s executive director and helped with the merger with Van Wert Community Health.
• She was a charter member of the C.B.S. Study Club (part of the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs).
• She was active in her church, the West Unity United Methodist Church. She was a member of the church’s women’s group, the choir and a delegate to the Methodist Conference.
• She later became active in the Presbyterian Church in Montpelier.
• When her husband moved to Hillside Country Living, she spearheaded the overhaul of the garden.
• During her working career at the school, she was a Band Mother and constant presence at Band Camp.
• She counseled many students and faculty members.
• She gave clothing to people in need and was a foster parent for awhile.
The looming induction surprised and humbled Bob Short (Class of 1976).
“I am looking forward to the induction ceremonies,” Short said. “I always thought things like this happened to people with a lot of letters behind or in front of their names.”
Short farms 500 acres in Williams and Fulton counties, and is a weekend production supervisor at Chase Brass and Copper. He has worked at the plant for 28 years, the last 17 as weekend supervisor.
Short wears many caps in his life as part of his way to care a lot about people, he said. He grew up on a farm, but wanted to try something else first. He got involved with managing a different dairy herd other than his dad’s. After his dad retired from farming, he left farming behind him for a while. Then he got married and bought his own place. “I have been slowly growing the business,” Short said.
He joined the Board of Trustees for Mill Creek Township 23 years ago and has chaired the panel for most of those years, he said. He has been a volunteer firefighter for 39 years, holding several leadership positions, including captain and assistant fire chief. “I stepped down to let the younger guys move up,” Short said. He has held leadership positions for the association and is now chaplain.
Short has been heavily involved with the Soil and Water District up to the state level, he said.
Short has fond memories of his time at school. Graduating during the nation’s bicentennial was a special time for him and his classmates. “We were a close class due to the times we were in,” Short said.
The closeness was based in large part on his years at Alvordton Middle School. He attended there for sixth grade, and then attended West Unity for seventh grade. In eighth grade he went back to Alvordton for eighth grade.
It was there he met up with McGuire. Both ran for president of their respective classes.
“We had some good times there,” Short said. “We called the school, Aldvorton University.” For Short it was that campaign, which included posters, campaign managers and speeches, which started a spark of interest in leadership. Over the years, as he has excelled in other roles, he has gained a good reputation among his peers. That culminated with being named Soil and Water District Supervisor of the Year for Ohio in 2014. “I was elected by 440 members,” Short said. And, though he never graduated from college, he takes pride in graduating from the Ohio Township Association and the Soil and Water District academies, Short said. “It’s all about caring for your neighbor and seeing what you can do to help them,” Short said.
For Short’s longtime friend and fellow alumnus of AU, J. Michael McGuire, the honor is a chance for him to tell others how his time at Hilltop prepared him for life.
McGuire (Class of 1977), is chief executive officer for Grant Thorton LLP, at the company’s Charlotte, NC office. After he left West Unity, he attended and graduated from Bowling Green State University. From there he moved to North Carolina and has never left.
McGuire looks on his time in the district with fondness. He recalls his election as seventh-grade class president and the debates before the election.
The bonds his class formed during those years at Alvordton have remained strong. His classmates have had reunions every five years, and he believes that more than any other class over the last 40 years. “We had a really good time,” McGuire said. “Out of all the kids who graduated, the Class of 1977 was so close.”
The Class of 1977 was the largest ever for the school with 84 students. Most still show up for the reunions, he said, crediting the two years at Alvordton as the reason why. “It is from being out there on our own,” McGuire said.
McGuire moved to West Unity from Indiana when he was in fifth grade. His dad owned the grocery store where King’s Furniture stands now on Jackson Street. “I was the only new kid in town,” McGuire said. “All of my classmates had been together since kindergarten.”
Time in school and working in his father’s store prepared him for life.
“I tell people I learned everything I needed to know in life at the corner of Jackson and Main,” McGuire said. “I had really good teachers in school; we were always placing high in the state aptitude tests.” That included French, Science and English. “I still feel like English prepared me for writing and speaking,” McGuire said. “At BGSU, my placement was based on my education at Hilltop. I was ahead of most of the kids in class at college.”
He particularly credits his typing teacher, Mary Jo Boyer, for being a hard teacher who turned him into being an excellent typist. In 1974, there were not many boys taking typing. Most of the students were girls hoping to become secretaries, he said. He plans on sharing some thoughts about her at the event.
“I am very excited,” McGuire said. It’s an honor. I had a good experience at Hilltop.”
© 2017, James Pruitt. All rights reserved.