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Teaching others kept Kercheval busy

January 13, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Edward C. Kercheval, who died Jan. 6 at the age of 79. His obituary was published in the Jan. 8 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Ed Kercheval's dedication to the furtherance of education made for some interesting moments for him, his family and the students he taught over the years.

Ed, who died Jan. 6 at the age of 79, served in a variety of roles during his 34-year career with Washington County Public Schools, including a stint between 1963 and 1965 in Africa.

"Our youngest child, Susie, was just 6 months old when the whole family went to Nigeria for two years so Ed could teach English as a second language," said his wife, Barbara Kercheval.

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The Kerchevals' oldest son, Jeff, attended nursery school, then first grade in the African nation. His brother, Eddie, was 3 when the Kerchevals arrived there.

"I was too young ... I don't remember anything about living in Nigeria," Susie said. Now Susie Bell, she and her family live in Florida.

Eddie said the family took a lot of trips while they were in Africa. Fellow educator Eugene Mittel also taught there, and other friends from Hagerstown including art teacher Clyde Roberts visited.

Both natives of Waynesboro, Pa., Barbara and Ed first met at Shippensburg (Pa.) University. Four years older, Ed had been in the Navy and was going to school on the GI Bill, Barbara said.

"I still lived in Waynesboro then and needed a ride home," she said.

Married in 1956, the couple couldn't go on a honeymoon because Ed had a workshop to attend - a hint of his busy life ahead.

They lived in Waynesboro for two years, then Ed learned of a job working with "TV in the Classroom" in Washington County Public Schools.

Ed was interviewed by William Brish, who then was superintendent of schools, and got the job, Barbara said.

When the Kerchevals first moved to Hagerstown, they settled on North Colonial Drive along Antietam Creek.

"For 17 years, we lived there, and then 31 years ago, we moved upstream," Barbara said.

Both Susie and Jeff remember how much time they spent in and around Antietam Creek when they were young.

"We learned to swim off Colonial Drive," Susie said.

A stay-at-home mother at first, Barbara didn't begin her teaching career until Susie was in kindergarten. Over the years, she taught in public schools and at Hagerstown Community College.

Ed's education career began in 1952, and included jobs in television and classroom teaching. He also was curriculum coordinator and director of both information and instruction, and was deputy superintendent of Washington County Public Schools when he retired in 1986.

"We were the luckiest kids in school," Jeff said. "Dad was the one who made the decision on whether schools would close, so we were always the first to know."

Jeff said he remembers how dedicated his father was to his teaching career.

"He went to way too many meetings," Jeff said, remembering how his father would come home, eat dinner, then go to a meeting.

Fortunately, when Ed retired, he made a clean break, Jeff said.

Though quite busy professionally, Ed always found time for his children, Eddie and Susie said. He coached Little League and the swim team, and often was a timer at swim meets.

Barbara said Ed loved amateur photography and developing his own pictures at home. He also excelled at woodworking, and made wooden rocking horses, trains, toy boxes and cradles for his grandchildren.

There also were many family trips. Susie remembers a particular family boat trip down Antietam Creek from Leitersburg to their old house on Colonial Drive - a trip that took a lot longer than planned.

"We didn't realize that the Municipal Electric Light Plant was in between, so we had to carry the boat and motor in places," Barbara said.

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