Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick
Don Schiff (right) was one of two West Jefferson residents to be honored with the Ralph Parsons Sr. Community Service Award on Nov. 19. Mayor Tom Phillips made the presentation.
|Bob Webb (left) accepts the Ralph Parsons Sr. Community Service Award on behalf of his father, Glenn Webb, who passed away last year. West Jefferson Mayor Tom Phillips (right) nominated Glenn for the honor.|
Two leaders in the education of West Jefferson youth were awarded the Ralph Parsons Sr. Community Service Award on Nov. 19.
The names of Glenn Webb, a former school bus driver for Jefferson Local Schools, and Don Schiff, a former principal and supporter of community youth pro-grams, were added to the marble plaque in the entryway of West Jefferson’s village hall.
Both men exemplify the spirit of the Ralph Parsons Award, said Harold Walker, village public service director: "They both believed in leaving West Jefferson a better place through their service to the community."
Walker nominated Schiff for the award and knew Webb through Webb’s service as a bus driver for school athletic teams.
Schiff, an avid tennis player, was instrumental in developing a competitive tennis program at West Jefferson High School and developing tennis courts at Westwood Park, Walker said.
"Don was my middle school principal. Over the years we’ve had some classic battles on the tennis courts,’’ said Walker, who has hit the courts with Schiff for many a friendly contest.
Schiff’s work to develop a tennis program began on a private level, said Sonny Parsons, son of Ralph Parsons Sr. for whom the community service award is named.
"Before we had adequate facilities to support a tennis program at the school, Don would utilize private tennis courts in the area. There were many times Don would bring his tennis students out to our family (tennis) courts and other privately owned courts in the area to give students the opportunity to become competitive in the sport," Parsons said.
As an educator, Schiff knew no boundaries.
"He often took students to places beyond West Jefferson to increase their education in the history and geography of other lands," Parsons said.
Beyond education, Schiff has been a big part of village events, whether through the West Jefferson Community Association or in his own front yard. Many a year, he sets up his own cotton candy and popcorn machines at sporting events or at his home during Halloween, Walker said.
Glenn Webb, who passed away on Sept. 24, 2006, drove regular school bus routes for the Jefferson Local Schools for years and was probably best known for his dedication to driving the schools’ athletes to events outside the village.
Tom Phillips, West Jefferson mayor and a friend of Webb, nominated Webb for the Parsons Award.
"Glenn always had a special route he would take when leaving the village with the teams. He always drove their bus down Race Street, telling the teams he was doing it for luck,’’ Phillips said.
On Sept. 24, 2007, the first anniversary of Webb’s death, the village held ceremonies on Race Street to rename the street "Lucky Alley" in Webb’s honor.
Phillips said Webb was fanatical about making sure the schools’ teams got to their destinations safely and in time for their competitions.
"He would actually go out and drive the route to the city or town where the competition was to be held a day before the event, just so he would know the best way to get them there safely," Phillips said.
Webb’s pride in his job with the schools was equaled by his pride in his contri-butions to West Jefferson’s business community as a gas station owner.
"Glenn always won the regional prize for the best decorated station in the area at Christmas time, and he was always there to help needy people passing through town,’’ Phillips said.
Webb would offer his help to fix a broken-down car or change a tire for people he had never met before and would never see again.
He also was devoted to his church, West Jefferson Freewill Baptist, for which he purchased an organ many years ago. He learned how to play the instrument and served for many years as the church’s organist.
In addition to his loyalty to Jefferson Local Schools, his church and his community, Webb was a die-hard Buckeyes fan, Phillips said.
"I think he attended about every OSU basketball game as well as football game,’’ Phillips said. Webb would always find a ticket to the Rose Bowl when the Buckeyes were playing.
"Both of this year’s inductees, Glenn and Don, have spent their lives in this village doing just what the Parsons Award professes—leaving this a better place through their dedication to the community. They have both been instrumental in shaping the lives of our youth for the future," Phillips said.
The Parsons Award for community service was instituted by the family of Ralph Parsons Sr. after his death on New Year’s Day in 2001. Nominations for the award are submitted by West Jefferson residents and evaluated by a five-member commit-tee made up by the mayor, a representative of council, a represen-tative from the community, and members of the Parsons family.