After 13 years of service as the Superintendent of Clay Community Schools, Dr. Thomas Rohr resigned to take the superintendent's position at the Greater Clark County Schools in Southern Indiana.
Amy Bradbury expressed the views of many who attended the reception at the YMCA on Sunday to honor Rohr. Bradbury, the mother of a son who attends North Clay Middle School, took a break from her basketball game at the YMCA to pay tribute to Rohr.
"I think he's done a good job with the kids," she said. "I hate to see him go. I hope his successor does as well as he's done."
The new superintendent has not yet been named, but school board members have indicated they hope to choose Rohr's successor by June 1.
More than 200 well-wishers attended to say thank you and good-bye to Rohr and his wife, Sheila, and their daughters, Abbea, 14, Emily, 7, Amy, 5, and Ellen, 2. They'll be living in Jeffersonville, Ind., which is next to Louisville, Ky., on the Ohio River.
The Greater Clark County Schools have a student population of nearly 10,000, more than double the number in Clay County.
"It's a very fast growing, booming area," Rohr said. "This is an opportunity for professional growth and new opportunities for the kids. We're looking forward to it."
At an earlier interview Rohr told how he first got interested in education. "Originally, I went to college to play college football," he said.
The three-year letterman from Union City High School played varsity linebacker and offensive end for the Union City Indians. He was invited to come as a walk on by the Indiana State University football team.
"I was a slow runner but a quick learner," Rohr grinned.
"I soon found out I was just too slow and too small to play college football. But I always enjoyed the school atmosphere and I liked working with children. I went into elementary education thinking I would get into coaching and work with kids that way."
Rohr's first job out of college was at the Rockville Training Center for juvenile delinquents where he taught for three years. They had no sports program. During that time he got his administrative degree and lost interest in the idea of coaching.
After serving as principal at two schools, Rohr got his first superintendent position in the North Putnam school system. He came to the Clay Community School Corp. in 1990.
His wife is originally from Rockville. She was principal of Rockville Elementary for nine years, but left in 1999 to stay home with their growing family.
Connie McClure, a 1962 Brazil High School graduate, lives in Rockville and had been a friend of the Rohrs for years.
"I live in town and the Rohrs live in the country," McClure said. "But we frequently spent afternoons together at the local swimming pool. I'd take my granddaughters and they brought their daughters.
"Sheila would bring the kids in the car," McClure continued. "Tom traveled the six miles from their home to the pool either riding his bike or running. He's an avid runner. I remember the first time he arrived at the pool on that 90-degree day. That's when we knew he could really take the heat," McClure said, laughing.
Midway through the reception, Rohr received a totally unexpected surprise. Mike Feller, president of the Rotary, and past president Steve Bell presented Rohr with the coveted Paul Harris Fellow award.
The Paul Harris Fellow award is the Rotary's way of expressing its appreciation for a substantial contribution to its humanitarian and educational programs.
Bell presented Rohr with the three emblems of the award, a certificate, medallion and pin. He explained that the Paul Harris Fellow award was usually presented at the annual fall dinner. But because Rohr is leaving the community soon, the Rotary wanted to make sure they honored him appropriately before he left.
Feller finished the Rotary presentation saying, "We'd like to thank you, Tom, for your contributions to this community. Both through your vocation and your involvement in Rotary."
Clay City resident Daryl Andrews, who has two young children about to enter the Clay Community School system, voiced his feelings about Rohr and the job he's done.
"This turnout shows the county-wide respect for this man," Andrews said. "From Clay City to Carbon, they're here to wish Dr. Rohr well. He had foresight and understood the importance of early childhood development. He was the driving force into getting resources to bring the library to Clay City."
Rohr said Clay County has always been good to him.
"I have always found the people in Clay County to be friendly and accepting and have been a joy to work with. I'd like to wish everyone in Clay County well and hope it continues to prosper.
"I know there are challenges ahead and hope everyone works together to meet those challenges and remember the that kids are the primary concern."