LEXINGTON — Bob Whitney is an institution within an institution.
The well-known criminal defense attorney recently was honored by his community for serving 48 consecutive years on the school board in the Lexington district.
A search of the database at the Ohio School Board Association in Columbus showed Whitney as the state’s longest-serving board member. Whitney’s son, Rolf, served three terms on the school board before moving to Lancaster.
Bob Whitney accepted the plaque at the annual Lexington Alumni Association meeting at the high school.
“I had no idea they were going to honor me until a screen rolled down with my name on it and I turned to my wife and asked her what was going on,” Whitney said.
The video clip informed the audience he was a 1953 graduate of Lexington and one of its staunchest supporters. He and his wife of 56 years, Carol (Class of 1954), are fixtures at sporting events, academic programs and performances from choir and orchestra concerts to marching band competitions.
They become so interested in the young people of Lexington that the couple often is invited to graduation parties and weddings of former students.
All four of their children and five grandchildren have passed through the halls of the Lexington schools. A new generation of great-grandchildren is waiting in the wings, Whitney said.
Superintendent Mike Ziegelhofer says no one loves the Lexington school district more than Bob Whitney.
“Bob bleeds purple and gold,” the superintendent said. “His longevity on the board and his common sense have provided stability.”
He cited Whitney’s ability to connect with people and also noted his understanding of the district. While circulating at school events, local restaurants and businesses, Whitney often takes time to talk to the young people he meets.
“I keep coming back because I really enjoy the students. I try to keep up with them,” Whitney said. “I’ll run into someone and ask how school is going and then they tell me they graduated two years ago and are living in places like D.C., Seattle, or Denver. I really enjoy following up on their lives.”
This school board president may have a city career in a law office, but he is a country boy at heart. He lives on a 70-acre farm south of Lexington where he raises hay and the grandchildren raise goats and cattle. His nearest neighbors include a grandson whose wife is a teacher at the junior high school.
Whitney’s current term will be up next year and he plans to seek re-election.
“As long as I’m healthy and my mind is good, I’d like to run again,” said the man who first was elected to office in 1964.
Anne Miller is a feature writer for The News Journal. Contact her with comments or story ideas at AnneMiller649@gmail.com