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May 31, 2018
James A. “Jim” Shipp, age 84, of Marysville, died peacefully at home, Thursday, May 31, 2018. Jim was born June 2, 1933 in Fredericksburg, Virginia to the late James A. and Helen Edwards Shipp. He is survived by his loving wife, Betty L. Decker Shipp, whom he married June 19, 1955 in East Liverpool, Ohio; his children, Doug(Monique)Shipp of Indianapolis, Indiana, Chuck Shipp of Richwood, Kevin(Rhonda) Shipp of Marysville and Julie Shipp of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; his sister Barbara(Jack) Rowley of Florida; 9 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was also predeceased by his aunt and uncle, Francis and Charles Waller of Florida.
The son of a minister, Jim’s family lived in Knoxville, Tennessee where he attended Kindergarten and early grade school. He then moved to Washington D.C., where he attended Ben Murch Grade School and Alice Diehl Junior High School. It was here where Jim’s first job as a newspaper delivery carrier had him deliver newspapers to several famous Senators and Congressmen during World War II timeframe. Also, as part of his Boy Scout duties there, Jim would ride his bicycle throughout the neighborhood warning folks to turn off their house lights during air raid drills. His father was transferred to Massillon, Ohio during his high school years where Jim graduated from Massillon Washington High School. He went on to attend Heidelberg College for one year, but ran out of money. As a Boy Scout earlier, he had the opportunity to attend Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico and saw the big cattle and horse ranches out west. He decided to head West and hire on as a ranch hand in New Mexico where he learned to ride horses, rope cattle, and compete in rodeos. His specialty was calf roping. After a little over a year, Jim returned to Ohio to attend The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 1960. At OSU, he was a member of the Wesley Foundation and the Ohio State debate team. While at OSU, Jim also met Betty, his wife of 63 years. Jim did take a break from OSU from 1954-1956, when he enlisted in the US Army. He completed basic training at Fort Knox and was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division at Fort Hood, TX. He then transferred to Fort Polk, LA, where he served in the Special Services Branch.
A long time educator with the Marysville Exempted Village School District, Jim was recruited to Marysville in 1960, to coach the Marysville debate team. He was hired by school superintendent, H.W. Carr, specifically to coach debate but also teach English and Bible History. Thus, his 30-year tenure with the Marysville schools began, ending with his retirement in 1990. As the longtime speech and debate coach, he taught young people the skills and discipline necessary not only for success in competitions, but also for success professionally, later in life. His teams garnered many state championships and traveled to national competitions throughout the country, as well. For several years, his young students competed in the Williamsburg, Virginia debates, where they actually debated on the same stage as Patrick Henry did during colonial times. Jim was always searching for a teaching moment. He was inducted into the Ohio High School Speech and Debate Hall of Fame in 1987. At the time of his induction he was serving on the OHSSL Executive Committee. He earned two diamond awards for coaching distinction in Ohio speech competition. He was awarded a Gold Key for coaching from Emory University for his students’ competition in Atlanta, in 1989. At the time, he was only the 67th recipient in the history of their society (composed of national debate leaders from across the U.S. who exemplified the educational leadership which makes our country great).
Throughout his career, Jim taught history, economics, and civics. He was known for being a stern disciplinarian, and a sometimes scary figure to some students. To those who knew him best, he was all about doing what’s best for the “kids.” Most remember his history lessons as not dry, rote memorization of facts and dates, but recall Jim bringing the past to life with his oratory skills and ability to “spin a tale.”
Jim was active in many other areas of young peoples’ lives as well. For many years, he and his fellow educator, Jim Shaw, oversaw the Buckeye Boy’s State program for MHS. He directed many high school musicals, like “West Side Story”, “Sound of Music”, and “My Fair Lady.” This is where he showed his students his “other” side. Not many knew he could play the piano and dance the jitterbug. He was the advisor for the high school yearbook, “The Key”, served as the school system’s bus coordinator, directed high school commencement ceremonies, oversaw junior/senior proms, advised the MHS Key Club, announced MHS football games, operated the game clock for basketball games, refereed football and basketball, and umpired baseball and softball, coached the Elks Lodge Little League team and the Marysville Babe Ruth travelling baseball team, served as Boy Scout Troop Master for Troop 101, and Camp Director for Camp Buckeye in Logan, OH. He managed the Marysville swimming pool during the 1960’s and organized a girls’ synchronized swim team called “The Shippettes”. He also was appointed the Director for the Marysville ALERT program and created a Marysville Youth Center during the late 60s and early 70s where the current Parkview Drive-thru is located. Locally, Jim was a member of Marysville Toastmasters, Kiwanis, American Legion Post 79, and Union County Retired Teachers’ Association. As a former member of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Board, he was part of the driving force behind the development of the ball fields at Schwartzkopf Park and the Joint Recreation District ball fields on County Home Road.
Jim also exercised his speech and teaching skills on Sunday. A lay minister, Jim was a member and Sunday school superintendent of Marysville First United Methodist Church and was a substitute preacher throughout Ohio for many years. Jim’s sermons from the pulpit demonstrated the same flair and spell-binding nature as his classroom presentations.
Jim became heavily involved in athletics. Known as a no-nonsense umpire, he even kicked his own son out of a game. Jim started the MHS girls softball program and had Polly Widner as the first coach. He continued his involvement with girls softball becoming the Executive Director of the Heart of Ohio Girls Fast Pitch Softball Association for many years. He also served as League Commissioner for several central Ohio high school athletic conferences for both boys and girls. He assigned officials for baseball and softball games, and high school soccer. He also was the Director of Central District Softball and Central District Soccer for the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Jim also conducted and taught classes for umpires at Marion Harding High School. He was inducted into the ASA Ohio Hall of Honor in 2009. He also received the Jim Walsh Special Honor Award for Soccer in 2015.
Jim was an avid motorcycle rider. He could be seen riding to umpiring assignments with his gear strapped to the back of his bike. He organized a couple cross-country trips, with former Marysville and Fairbanks principal and good friend, Ed Pleasant. For 20 years, Jim and his wife, Betty, enjoyed attending Cincinnati Reds spring training games in Plant City and Sarasota, Florida. In addition to being big OSU Buckeye fans, they followed the Reds throughout their 63-year marriage. They also enjoyed traveling in their camper during school summer breaks. Ever the history teacher, Jim’s kids say there isn’t a Civil War battlefield in the US that they haven’t visited. Over the years Jim and Betty have traveled to every state except Alaska and Hawaii. They also belonged to the O-HI-LO camping club.
Jim’s life was full of activities always focusing on the young people of the community and their development. Many families of one so involved with others may complain that they took a back seat to all the competing activities. On the contrary, Jim’s family attests that their dad was always available, present, and involved with everything they did. Jim’s ability to touch so many young people and still balance everything in his life is a testament to who this man was.
At Jim’s request, there will be no services. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Heart of Ohio Girls Softball Scholarship, Union County Retired Teachers’ Scholarship or Heartland Hospice. Memorials may be mailed to Underwood Funeral Home, 703 East Fifth Street, Marysville, OH 43040. Memories and condolences may be expressed to the family at www.underwoodfuneralhome.com.
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