Doug Castle had many titles: teacher, coach, mentor, principal, boss, academic encourager, advocate for youth. A name that his Lakota friends bestowed on him was "Common Man," defined as a man who is honorable and walks with values, in other words, a man who carries the respect of his people.
Doug died on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. He overcame many obstacles in his life, but glioblastoma (an aggressive form of brain cancer) was unbeatable. Doug died at home, under the care of hospice, among family and friends.
He was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, Aug. 22, 1941, the oldest of six children to Orville and Lucy (Montgomery) Castle. His parents were from the coal-mining area of Kentucky and over the next 10 years moved more than 14 times between Kentucky and Mansfield, finally settling down on Oak Street when Orville took a job at Mansfield Tire and Rubber.
Doug attended Madison's East Mansfield Elementary School, where by lucky chance, he had for a teacher and coach, a man whose influence directed his life. Russell Patterson taught him to solve problems by using his brains rather than his fists and encouraged him to join the football team.
Doug graduated from Madison Comprehensive High School in 1960 as Class President and near the top of his class. He earned an academic grant and football scholarship to Marietta College. His work ethic was forged early as he worked two full-time jobs in the summer to afford college, toiling at the Ohio Brass and pumping gas. In college, he mopped floors and worked as a laboratory assistant. He graduated from Marietta in 1965 with a Bachelor degree in biology and education.
At Marietta, he met and married Elizabeth Lennon, who was from Massachusetts. Thus began a half-century long love affair not only with Liz, but also with Cape Cod and the ocean. Every year, for over fifty-three years, Doug and Liz spent extended time on the Cape.
In January 1965, he took a job with the Mansfield City Schools, at first teaching General Science at John Sherman Junior High School, moving to John Simpson Junior High School the next year to teach Biology and Introductory Physical Science. Right from the beginning he loved teaching.
He gave credit to the many mentors he had when he entered the school system, especially the late Al Maccioli, who he felt helped him find his niche. In 1972, Doug was selected Ohio Outstanding Young Educator by the Mansfield Jaycee Chamber of Commerce. He left Simpson to teach Anatomy and Physiology and Biology at Mansfield Senior High School.
During his teaching years, he also took an active role in sports. He coached reserve football at Senior High, basketball, and track and field at Simpson. In 1966, he began as timekeeping official for Mansfield Senior's basketball games, and he kept that job for 31 years.
After completing his Master of Education at the University of Akron, he took a position as Assistant Principal at John Sherman Middle School from 1975 to 1979, even though he had reservations about leaving the classroom because he enjoyed working with students so much.
Then, in January 1979, he took over the helm at John Simpson Junior High School. For the next 21 years, he never looked back. He led the transition from junior high school to the middle school format, a program he firmly believed in. Simpson became his home away from home. He credited his staff for a lot of his successes. He always said they were the best staff with whom he could ever have worked, especially his office staff, Marsha Luckie and Sandra Whitfield.
At Simpson, Doug developed his administrative philosophy based on two major concepts: being fair and keeping a sense of humor. A sense of humor was easy because he was a firm optimist. He woke up happy and whistling every morning (which proved an irritant for his wife) and approached each day with enthusiasm.
Being fair was a primary concern. He was a staunch believer in disciplining children in a way that would not destroy their dignity or self- respect. He would say there is a big difference between punishment and discipline. He discussed any and all problems with students and then delivered consequences. Even when his students knew they were wrong, they knew he would treat them fairly.
During this time, for 20 years, he was also the Director of the Mansfield Mehock Relays, which at that point in time was the largest interscholastic international track and field meet in the country. When he released the reins of the Mehock Relays, he took over running the Gorman Wrestling Tournament for a number of years. From the early 1980s, he worked as a sanctioned official for track and field and volleyball, an activity he kept up until the present.
In the mid 1990s, Doug bought a motorcycle and began a twenty-five year long odyssey. On their Honda Gold Wings, he and his buddies, Bruce Wierich and Dick Windbigler, would eventually travel to forty-nine states and all but one Canadian province.
He and Bruce even rode to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back in a 14-day time period. To Doug, it was the ride, not just the destination. They once even rode to New Orleans just for lunch.
Doug retired in July 2000 fully intending to do nothing more than live a life of leisure. Then Andy Johnson, principal of Galion Middle School, who had done his cadet principal training under Doug, called and asked if he could fill in as his assistant principal just for a few months while he looked for a permanent person to take the job. Five years later, Doug retired from Galion Middle School.
Then Stan Jefferson, a friend, neighbor and ex-principal of Mansfield Senior High School, then working for The Ohio State University football staff, told Doug that Jim Tressel was looking to hire some retired educators to work part time for a new program he was starting. Doug interviewed and was hired that day.
For the next seven years he was an Academic Encourager for the young men on the football team. He was to meet with them on campus, make sure they were in class, and be there to help with any problems. He loved every minute of it; he got to stand on the sidelines during games, go into the locker room, and attend all the bowl games.
Doug is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of 53 years; his daughter and son, Dr. Elizabeth Castle and her partner Steven White, of Mansfield, and Michael and Christine Randall Castle; and step-grandson, Joe Randall, of Columbus. Also surviving are his four sisters and their husbands: Susie and Rick Plasencia, of Puyallup, Washington; Linda and Carl Horn, of St. Marys, Ohio; Karen and (late) Frank Schultz, of Valley City, Ohio, and Judy and Jack Fiely, of St. Marys, Ohio; Judith King Castle and her husband Gary Mion; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Doug was preceded in death by his younger brother, Dr. Donald Castle.
Following Doug's express wishes, there will be no calling hours or memorial service. In a month or so, the family will host an open house for any and all who knew Doug to join in a remembrance. His daughter is establishing a "Castle Legacy Project," a project that will continue his work to support equity and justice in education. We will ask for your interest, participation and support of this local initiative.
The Diamond Street Home of Wappner Funeral Directors is privileged to serve the family.
Words of comfort may be expressed to the family at www.wappner.com.