Withrow High School Principals – 1919-1971

By Bob Linnenberg ’63

Edmund D. Lyon 1919-1933
The son of a Methodist minister, Edmund Daniel Lyon was born September 6, 1862 In Martinsburg, a small town in northeastern Ohio.  After graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University, Mr. Lyon spent his early tears teaching, and as superintendent in Cuyahoga County and other northern Ohio districts.  He was hired by Cincinnati Public schools in 1901 as superintendent of Madisonville High School. In 1906 Mr. Lyon was appointed principal at Woodward High School and in 1912 was made principal of Hughes High School.  When the new East High School in Hyde Park opened in 1919, Mr. Lyon was named its first principal.  East High replaced Madisonville High where he had begun his career in Cincinnati.  An avid fisherman and reader, Mr. Lyon was also known for his interest in music and his fine singing voice.  His interest in art manifested itself with his formation of the Art League at Withrow which purchased, through student donations, many fine paintings and artwork to beautify the halls.  Having guided East/Withrow High from its infancy into a modern first-class institution, Mr. Lyon concluded his 32 years with Cincinnati public schools, retiring from Withrow in 1933.  Ohio Wesleyan University, of which he was a trustee, awarded Mr. Lyon an honorary master of arts and doctor of pedagogy degree.  He was also so honored by Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  A resident of Madisonville, Mr. Lyon was president of the Ohio Teachers Association and was active in the National Association of High School Principals.  He was a Mason and a trustee of Madisonville Methodist Church.  Mr. Lyon passed away in November of 1944 at the age of 82 and is buried Laurel Cemetery in Madisonville.  Perhaps the highest honor bestowed upon him was the 1957 dedication of Edmund D. Lyon Junior High School, also in Madisonville.

Walter Peoples 1933-1947
A native of Clark County, Ohio northeast of Dayton, Walter Peoples was born in December 1881 and raised on a farm.  He was a graduate of Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania.  After post-graduate work at Wittenberg University, Ohio State and the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Peoples received a master of education degree in 1933 from the University of Cincinnati.  His early teaching career was at Madisonville High School until he was named assistant principal of the new East High School in 1919.  When Mr. Lyon retired in 1933, Mr. Peoples was made acting principal and was officially made principal of Withrow in 1934.  He was noted for being at Withrow at 7:30 every school day and greeting each teacher as they came to school.  A noted bowler and golfer, he took time from his duties as principal to be the advisor for the Withrow bowling team.  In 1930 he was elected president of the Ohio State High School Athletic Association.  He was also a president of the Southwestern Teachers Association and a member of several educational organizations.  Noted for his friendliness and his laugh, Mr. Peoples was greatly mourned when he died in November of 1947 while still principal of Withrow.  The school closed at 1:00 PM so that faculty and students could attend his funeral.  He is buried in Clark County.  In 1971 Walter Peoples Junior High School in Hyde Park was dedicated by Senator Robert Taft, Jr.  A resident of Madisonville, Mr. Peoples and his family lived just up the street from his predecessor Edmund Lyon.  All three of Mr. Peoples children were Withrow graduates.


A.O. Mathias 1947-1956
In 1907 Anthony Ottis Mathias, who preferred to be known as A.O, began his teaching career in Adams County, Ohio where he had been born.   While teaching there for several years, Mr. Mathias received his bachelor’s degree in 1916 from Ohio University in Athens, majoring in biological sciences.  He came to Cincinnati and began his local teaching career at Woodward High School.  When East High opened in 1919 he was appointed to teach agriculture. When that program was phased out in 1926 he turned to teaching mathematics at Withrow.  In 1946 he became assistant principal and upon the death of Mr. Peoples in November 1947 he was made acting principal.   Mr. Mathias, who would rather have remained a teacher, was persuaded by his fellow teachers to make the job as principal permanent.  He retired as principal in June 1956 after 37 years at Withrow.  He had served as president of the Schoolmaster’s club in 1935 of the Ohio Education Association in 1945.  In 1923 he had help create Teachers Group Insurance Co. which provided benefits to teachers in case of accidents or illnesses. In retirement he became president of Ohio Retired Teachers Association.  Mr. Mathias, who for 13 years had a fruit and poultry farm in Indian Hill, also served as president and clerk of the Indian Hill Board of Education.  He was honored by his alma mater Ohio University in 1969 for his “outstanding leadership in the field of education”.  Mr. Mathias died in March 1982 at age 92 and is buried in Adams County.  He was a resident of Mt Lookout and all five of his children were Withrow graduates.


Rayburn Cadwallader 1956-1960
A 1922 graduate of Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio, Raymond Woods Cadwallader began his teaching career at Withrow in 1927 in the commercial department.  His mother and father, three of his grandparents and eleven aunts and uncles were teachers.  After a brief hiatus, he became assistant principal in 1933.  He remained at Withrow until 1946 when he was made principal of Western Hills High School.  He returned to Withrow as principal in 1956.  Mr. Cadwallader left Withrow for a research position at the Board of Education in 1960 and retired in 1962 after 35 years with Cincinnati public schools.  He had also served as assistant principal of East Night High School and as principal of the YMCA night school.  He was president of the Schoolmaster’s club and secretary of the South-western Ohio Teachers Association.   “Mr. Cad”, who enjoyed fishing, bowling and golf, was also a member of many civic and fraternal organizations.  In addition to having a master of education degree from the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Cadwallader was the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree from his alma mater, Wilmington College, in 1955.  A resident of Hyde Park, Mr. Cadwallader died in February 1964 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.  All three of his children graduated from Withrow.


Joseph Ayer 1960-1967
Before becoming principal in 1960, Joseph Charles Ayer’s only connection with Withrow was as a student teacher of civics and history in the fall of 1940.  He was then a recent graduate of Otterbein College, In Westerville, Ohio and working for a bachelor of education degree from the University of Cincinnati.  The son of a Congregational Church clergyman, Mr. Ayer was born in Windham, Connecticut in April 1916.  He served as an Army officer during World War II and was badly injured by a landmine in 1944.  He was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Medal and Bronze Star.  Mr. Ayer left Withrow in 1967 to become coordinator of Student Affairs at the Middletown campus of Miami University.  He was named Director of Student Affairs in 1975 and retired from that job in 1977.  Mr. Ayer, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, also held a master of education degree from Xavier University.  He died in December 2005 at age 89 and is inurned at Dayton National Cemetery.  He and Mrs. Ayer had no children.


Marvin Renshaw 1967-1971
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Marvin R. Renshaw was a graduate of Norwood High School and had bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Cincinnati.  An officer during World War II, he served in the south Pacific as a navigator in B-29s.  Mr. Renshaw taught American History as a student teacher at Withrow in 1946 and taught English and Journalism as a full-time teacher from 1947 to 1958.  As a student teacher Mr. Renshaw was quoted in Tower News as saying that “he doesn’t know how he would have faced all those kids if it hadn’t been for his training in the army”.  Before returning to Withrow as principal in 1967, he served at Lyon Junior High, Taft High and Cutter Junior High schools.  After serving at Withrow for four years, Mr. Renshaw was made principal of Western Hills High School in 1971 and retired there after nine years in 1980.  There was quite a bit of student unrest during his tenure as principal of both schools and was praised for even handedness and calm.  During his years of teaching at Withrow, Mr. Renshaw, an avid bowler, coached the bowling team.  He was a popular faculty advisor to Tower News.  He also enjoyed golf.  A resident of Mt. Washington, Mr. Renshaw’s two daughters were Withrow graduates.  He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church.  He died in February 1988 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.


  1. Not sure if this is the correct means to comment on the articles about principals and deputies, but nevertheless I knew both mr peoples and mr cadwallder. They both welcomed me most kindly in 1940 when I arrived from England as a wartime evacuee.
    For three years I loved my time at withrow and became editor of tower news, then four pages once a week. Jean cadwallder was in my year too. At 94 living in arundel, England, I try to follow withrow as best I can. Withrow was my developer, so to speak, leading to my becoming an assistant general manager in Barclays Bank,at one time the fourth largest bank in the world. I last visited withrow about 33 years ago, and found it instantly recognisable.
    Best wishes to all withrowites. David Sunray.

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