I was already attending Kinnison Elementary School in Jackson in 1964 when Kathryn Loxley arrived to teach one of the fourth-grade classes in the old schoolhouse which is now a ballfield. She had already taught for six years at West Milton, Ohio near Dayton, but she and her family had just relocated to Jackson County.
Kinnison was the largest elementary school in the district and there were two sessions of each grade. As it turned out, I was assigned to the other fourth-grade class, and while I recall having truly a very positive experience under the tutelage of teacher Dolly Lewis, I also regret that I did not have the opportunity to learn from and be around Kathryn Loxley for nine months.
Now, 53 years later, I can safely say this because over the years, Kathryn Loxley became one of the most revered, respected and loved educators in the Jackson City School District in modern history and has often been placed by many students in the "favorite teacher" category. Her teaching career in the district spanned 30 years until her retirement in 1993 and the "life lessons" she taught and her own example of living were just as important as the arithmetic, grammar and spelling which were in the curriculum.
Those kinds of pronouncements are now due because Mrs. Loxley died this past Sunday at the grand old age of 99. The loving comments and tributes from former students and others who were in her sphere have poured in during the past week. Indeed, she was a great lady whose genuine caring for others and whose Christian-based desire to make her little part of the world a better place, seemingly knew no bounds. Obviously, she was a very kind and generous person, but she also had an earthiness, an openness and a forthrightness which shone through and connected positively with students as well as adults.
One of the great things about Kathryn Loxley is that she did not confine her teaching to the nine months of the school year and the four walls of the classroom. One of her greatest contributions was the selfless and dedicated work she did at The Shire, the name she had for her family's rural property off State Route 788 between Jackson and Wellston.
Kathryn and her late husband, O.B., offered a summer program at The Shire for elementary students from 1965 to 1995. The focus of the summer program was academic in the morning hours, with the afternoons being spent swimming or fishing in the lake, and enjoying moments of fellowship at the end of each day. The Loxleys did this because they felt that too many children were missing out on learning about and experiencing the great outdoors. For the first decade of the project, the Loxleys assumed the entire cost of the summer camps and even personally provided transportation to some of the campers. The bottom line is that O.B. and Kathryn sacrificed their own time and money they could have used to take their own summer vacations. How many of us well-intentioned folk can say they would have done the same thing?
Kathryn's dedication to service did not end when she stepped away from the classroom and from The Shire. In 1993, the same year she retired from teaching, she became a licensed minister. She led the services at the Jackson Christian Church and the Mt. Nebo Church outside of Wellston. She also organized and ran the soup kitchen out of the Jackson Christian Church, with the aim of providing a free meal to those who most needed it.
In 2008, the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce bestowed its Meritorious Service Award on Mrs. Loxley, an honor and recognition deeply deserved after a long lifetime of giving to others with no motivation for gain or recognition. While she certainly appreciated the award and many honors and accolades she received along the way, she no doubt valued most the children she taught and inspired and the less fortunate people she was able to help and support.
By her words -- and even more by her actions and example -- Kathryn Loxley was indeed a great teacher and a sterling role model for living. May her influence and lessons live on for another 99 years.