Withrow-the first 50 years of Principals Who Shaped Our School

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 pieces of 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 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 p.m. 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. After 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 served as president of the Schoolmaster’s club in 1935 and of the Ohio Education Association in 1945. In 1923 he helped 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 Southwestern 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 toward 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 land mine 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. He was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and 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. 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 he was praised for his even-handedness and calm. During his years of teaching at Withrow, Mr. Renshaw was an avid bowler and golfer, coached the bowling team, worked with the Interfraternity Council, and was president of Schoolmasters.  He was the popular advisor to Tower News for more than 10 years and built it into a perennially All-American paper. He also led Kiwanis and served as a Deacon, Trustee, and Elder of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Renshaw was married to his high school sweetheart, Connie Crew Renshaw, for 45 Years.  His two daughters graduated from Withrow. He died in February 1988 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

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