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Robert C. Terwillegar

July 12, 1930 March 7, 2010
Robert C. Terwillegar
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Obituary for Robert C. Terwillegar

MEMORIAL SERVICE 2:30PM THURSDAY MARCH 25TH, 2010 AT MILFORD FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. Robert Terwillegar, a nationally known science educator who was known affectionately as �Mr. T�, died March 7. He was 79. As a leader in his field, Mr. T pioneered the outdoor education movement in Southwestern Ohio. He served as Elementary Science Coordinator for Indian Hill Schools, Co-Developer of the sixth grade school camping program, Co-founder of the annual �101� Conference for outdoor educators, Ohio Conservation Outdoor Education President 1983-1984, and Outdoor Education Director (OEC) for Indian Hill 1956-1981. Mr. T developed a summer outdoor education camping program to connect children with nature. One of his former students, Steve Heiselman, who also camped with him many summers as a student and a counselor writes, �The love for nature he shared, and the sense of responsibility for our world that he instilled in his students has stayed with me all these years� I know he touched the lives of so many students just like me.� Mr. Terwillegar was a conservationist, a naturalist, an amateur botanist, a storyteller, and a history buff. Carole Finkelmeier, long time OEC volunteer, remembers Mr. T as �a cross between Davy Crockett and Mr. Wizard. He was a masterful educator who had a special ability to make the most of each teaching moment.� �Mr. T was the finest story teller I have ever heard (although he would never accept that praise.) "The Celebrated Catfish of Switzerland County" was one of my favorites. His stories around the campfire would hold a dozen kids in rapt attention, all leaning forward as he spun his tale toward its climax, usually followed by shouts, squeals, and hoots of delight from the kids,� recalls Heiselman. Mr. T�s students at school and summer camp enjoyed learning by doing. They did everything from going back in time to put up a teepee and pack a covered wagon for a westward journey, to identifying wildflowers, to determining water quality of a stream by finding out what lives there, to building campfires and boat docks. Helen Black, co-founder of the Cincinnati Nature Center states �I�ve known Bob for years and he has always just stood out because he was so passionate and knowledgeable about everything he took on.� He was recognized for his service and volunteerism with many awards from both education and conservation organizations, including recognition for his integrity, loyalty and spirit of cooperation from the Indian Hill School Board for his service as association president. His awards culminate with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching presented to him by George H. W. Bush in the Rose Garden in 1991. Former Indian Hill Board of Education Member Lou Finkelmeier recalled �I had the good fortune to work closely with Bob during his tenure as President of the Teachers' Union. He was an honorable, direct man who possessed an unyielding dedication and devotion to his profession, and for whom I had the utmost respect and admiration.� Mr. T was active in his community as a volunteer with the fire and life squad and as boy-scout cub-master. After retirement, he was able to continue as a mentor and resource to the OEC and to teachers seeking ideas and his guidance. He volunteered at the Cincinnati Museum Center. He was an original member of the Clermont County Collation to Prevent Suicide, and was activity involved in many church ministries. �Bob Terwillegar was ever the mentor� Says Christine Neville, former Head of the Academy for Gifted Children. She shared that he helped her set up the entire K-8 Outdoor Discovery program using most of his own materials. Paul Knoop, former Education Director of Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm in Dayton and his wife Cathy, retired teacher, remember, �Mr. T was a master teacher of the sciences and even after retirement he continued to enjoy learning and inspiring others around him. Being a naturalist at heart Mr. T enjoyed nothing more than visiting his farm and cabin in Adams County. It was here that he found great joy and contentment while walking the woodlands and prairies and seeking out all manner of wild creature and wildflower. Mr. T will continue to live with us through the many good memories we shared." Perhaps greatest of the gifts he shared was respect. �I remember also how Mr. T could relate to the folks in Adams County, and how they accepted him, and how he tried to teach us to respect people from all walks of life through the example he set. He taught us that everyone has a story, and if we are willing to listen, we might just learn something,� says Heiselman. �In teaching us how to chop wood, build a fire, cook a meal, or pitch a tent, he wasn't just teaching us how to be campers. He was teaching us responsibility. He was teaching us how to work together. He was teaching us how to solve problems. He was teaching us to look out for each other. He was teaching us how to be... well, how to "be."� Mr. Terwillegar is survived by his wife, Margaret (Ruanne) Terwillegar; sister Alice Isom of Everson, WA; 3 children: Lynn Williams (Scott) of Des Plaines, IL Keith Terwillegar (Amanda) of Burlington, Vermont, Carol Terwillegar of Cincinnati, 5 grandchildren: Justin & Katherine Williams; Ardath Rose & Leander Terwillegar; Jamie Peterson. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Deborah Ann in 1993. A memorial service will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Milford, Ohio on Thursday, March 25 at 2:30. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Robert C Terwillegar Memorial Scholarship Fund at National Bank and Trust, 735 Lila Avenue Milford, Ohio 45150.

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