Longtime Kettering resident and educator Chester A. Roush, a teacher, professor, championship football coach and school superintendent who became president of the Ohio Board of Education, died Sunday. He was 95.
The Kettering City Schools Education Hall of Fame and the Fairmont High School football stadium both bear his name.
For two decades, Roush was either Kettering’s assistant superintendent of schools (1955-59) or superintendent (1959-75). During his tenure, the district opened 11 new buildings as enrollment reached nearly 16,000 students by 1968-69.
Roush had been retired from Kettering schools more than two decades when current Superintendent James Schoenlein arrived in the district, but Schoenlein said he quickly came to see Roush was still widely involved.
“He was a real pillar of the community and he knew everybody,” Schoenlein said. “I wasn’t in Kettering more than a couple of months, and he knew me and my wife and my kids. His is the name that’s most closely associated with greatness of Kettering city and Kettering schools.”
One of six children, Roush grew up in the southern Ohio village of Winchester, and earned degrees at the former Alfred E. Holbrook College and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, attaining the rank of captain.
Known to friends and colleagues as “Chet,” he came to Fairmont High School in 1948, serving as head football coach until 1952 for teams that compiled 26 wins, no losses ands two ties in Miami Valley League play.
After two years away from the district, Roush returned to Kettering in 1954 to serve as principal at Dorothy Lane Elementary School before moving on to superintendent roles. After retiring from Kettering schools in 1975, he served on the state school board for 12 years.
Current Kettering Board of Education president George Bayless said it was Roush who urged him to first run for the board in 2001.
“Chet was a great friend,” Bayless said. “He could be jovial, but he was an excellent administrator. He inherited a strong school district and made it better at a time of great expansion. He remained very involved after retirement.”
Roush was a charter member of the Kettering Rotary Club, served on the Kettering YMCA board, was a president of the Ohio Association of School Superintendents, was a member of Christ United Methodist Church and wrote two books: “The History of Alfred Holbrook College” and “The History of Winchester Ohio School District.”
Roush and Dottie, his wife of 70 years, had three children, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. The family is planning a private service, but a public celebration of Roush’s life will be scheduled at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, gifts are suggested to the Kettering Education Foundation and/or the Fairmont Athletic Hall of Fame, 3750 Far Hills Ave., Kettering 45429; and/or Hospice of Dayton, 324 Wilmington Ave. Dayton 45420.