Sunday, May 25, 2003

Obituary: Richard Witsken, educator


Teacher, principal taught lessons beyond classroom

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Mr. Witsken

GREEN TOWNSHIP - Richard A. Witsken was dedicated to his church, Elder High School and the Oak Hills School District.

The retired educator died May 16 at the Hospice of Cincinnati at Mercy Franciscan Hospital. He was 70.

Born in 1933 to Lawrence and Nedda Witsken of Price Hill, he graduated from Elder in 1951. He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1956 and a master's degree in administration in 1963, both from Xavier University. He also did post-graduate work at both Xavier and Miami University.

In 1956, Mr. Witsken was drafted into the Navy and served on an oil tanker, the USS Neosho, in the Mediterranean Sea.

After he was discharged in 1957, he worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Cincinnati as a management trainee.

He married Jeannette Austing of Mount Airy in 1958.

Mr. Witsken began a 35-year career in education in 1958 as a history teacher at Springmyer Elementary School. In 1963, he became a history teacher and assistant football coach at Oak Hills High School and in 1965 became assistant principal at Delhi Elementary School.

Mr. Witsken served as assistant principal in charge of discipline at Oak Hills High School (1966-68) and director of Oaks Hills High School Adult Education program. He helped start the summer swimming program at Oak Hills.

Mr. Witsken served as principal at Delhi Elementary in 1968 before becoming principal of Delhi Junior High School in 1969.

In 1974, he left for Oak Hills High School, where he served as history teacher (1974-1993), business manager of the yearbook (1980-1993) and manager of the school bookstore (1985-1993). He retired in 1993.

Mr. Witsken served on the Elder High School Board of Governors; Elder's Five-Year Plan; and the Elder Lay Advisory Board.

In addition, he was a building representative for Oak Hills Education Association and on was on the Incentive Retirement Committee for Oak Hills School District.

At Lourdes, he was a member of the Parish Council (1973-76), having served as chairman in 1975-76; the Baptism Preparation Program (1975-88); and a lay distributor (1973-95).

"He just loved being involved with his church (Our Lady of Lourdes in Westwood) and Elder High School and was very dedicated to the Oak Hills School District," Mrs. Witsken said.

"He was known for his marvelous attitude. He accepted anything that came his way. He always said, 'If you keep talking and don't listen, you never learn anything.' "

He was preceded in death by a brother Lawrence H. Jr. in 1989.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years; a brother, Rev. Gary J. of New Richmond; four sons, Army Col. Jeffrey of Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Gregory of Westwood, Douglas of Delhi Township and Matthew of Mack; three daughters, Maureen Uchtman of Bridgetown, Jeanine of Cheviot and Colleen of Cheviot; and 13 grandchildren.

Services have been held.

Memorials: Tuition funds of Elder High School, 3900 Vincent Ave., Cincinnati 45205-1672; Mother of Mercy High School, 3036 Werk Road, Cincinnati 45211-7042; or Our Lady of Lourdes, 2832 Rosebud Drive, Cincinnati 45238-2029.

E-mail kandrew@enquirer.com




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