The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Dr. Robert V. Shuff Inducted 1998 - Class of 1937
Self-described as the "shy guy who entered Woodward in 1933" and a "bashful looker-on in social activities," Robert Shuff has had a lifetime of distinguished service as a teacher, coach and administrator in public schools and universities. He describes his career as "basically one of helping other people reach their potential." His contributions to those in cities from the Midwest to Alaska to Arkansas make him truly deserving of his induction into the Woodward Hall of Fame.
"Bob," as he is known to many, was born in Toledo and attended both Lagrange and Riverside elementary schools. While at WHS, he lived on Columbus Street, just west of Erie and Galena in what he describes as "the neighborhood commercial area."
Bob's best friends at Woodward were members of the SAGA and Tattler staffs and the football team. He remembers seeing his first article in print and taking over the Tattler Sports page. Bob's sports career at WHS began in an unusual way. "When I enrolled at Woodward, I went out for the
football team. The coaches looked at me and laughed. They told me to go home and grow up. They didn't have a uniform small enough for me. It took two more years!" Other fond memories include his prom date..."it would take too much space to describe."
Marie (Doering) Ersig, Amy Miller, Edith Murphy, Ray Sheline, and Stan East were Bob's favorite teachers. "They were friendly and kind, knew their subjects, were willing to share their knowledge, and instilled a love of learning." Other staff members who impacted Bob were Coach Bevian-"in a negative way;" Principal Charles LaRue; and Coach Art Smith, who was "affable and shared his opinions about me with University of Toledo coaches."
After graduating from Woodward, Bob pursued his degree at the University of Toledo. He played football during his freshman and sophomore years. His full-time studies were interrupted as he worked at Libbey Glass, the Auto-Lite, and as a civilian employee of the Army Ordnance, which only gave him time to attend school part-time. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Education in 1945. Post-graduate work led to a Masters in Education from Washington State University in 1953; a PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1962; and "non-degree" work at Case School of Applied Science and Ohio University.
Bob began his teaching career in math and science and coached football, basketball, and baseball at schools in Sylvania, Ohio; Pontiac, Michigan; and Ashton, Iowa. He coached teams to league championships and undefeated seasons.
In 1949, Bob made a cross-country move to teach in Alaska, where he again coached. He became Superintendent of Schools at Hoonah and Skagway, Alaska. At Hoonah, he established a community library with the assistance of the Toledo Blade and Grove Patterson. A "Bob Shuff Day" resulted in over 5,000 books being donated by Toledoans. During this same period of time, Bob was adopted into the Thlinget Indian Tribe as "Oo-koo-kay-oo," which means "weather prophet," and became a member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood.
After six years in Alaska, Bob became Superintendent of Schools in Highwood, Montana in 1955. During his four-year tenure, he was twice selected as a National Science Foundation Fellow in mathematics, which led to a residency at the University of Minnesota and his PhD in 1962. Bob then taught at Rutgers University, where he also served as the Executive Secretary of the National School Boards Publication Association.
In 1964, Bob accepted an appointment as Chairman of the Department of Educational Administration at Eastern Illinois University. It was there that he developed, published, and edited the "Eastern Education Journal," using the skills learned while working on the Tattler and SAGA. The Journal is the principal publication at EIU. Bob's accomplishments in Illinois included establishing a post-master program; developing off-campus centers of instruction; and acting as an advisor to more than 100 Illinois school districts.
Bob's other professional activities include publishing some fifty articles and books in mathematics and administration; chairmanship of a nonprofit Day Care Center; authoring educational grants; and chairing a committee on fair financing for higher education.
In 1980, Bob retired to Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to relax and play golf. But one can hardly call it a retirement. Bob and his wife took up residency on fifteen acres of woodland. His intention was to devote his energies to community service. And that he did! Bob served as President of the County Water Association and secured financing of $1.8 million to provide safe water and improved fire protection for persons living along a distribution system of 108 miles. He has been active in politics, coordinating county campaigns to re-elect Bill Clinton as governor of Arkansas and to elect Walter Mondale as President. Bob has also become a regular performer in theater productions at Henderson State University and the Arkadelphia Little Theater. His most recent appearance was as Fagin in the musical production of Oliver. There is a scholarship in Bob Shuff's name at Henderson State University. All Bob's energy is now devoted to the rehabilitation of Arkadelphia after the devastating tornado of March I, 1997. The little spare time Bob has is spent golfing and acting. He likes to travel and read. He has served as a certified lay speaker in the Methodist Church and as an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Bob is married to Dr. Marian Shuff and together they have five children-James, Sheri, Robert, Jr., Mary Jo, and Douglas. They are blessed with nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Bob also has eight brothers and sisters, all who attended Woodward.
When notified of his selection to the Hall of Fame, Bob expressed surprise and appreciation. "In all modesty, I do believe that I am a credit to the fine education I received at Woodward." Bob, we couldn't agree with you more!