HAMILTON, Ohio — In 1975, Nancy and Jeff O’Donohoe were Badin High school seniors too nervous to voice their mutual crush. The nudge they needed came from teacher Joe DeAngelo — “Mr. D” — and his decision to name Nancy the assistant director of a school show in which Jeff was performing.
They were married two years later. Naturally, DeAngelo was there.
“He was a one-in-a-million guy,” Nancy said Monday night.
DeAngelo died Sunday at Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital, according to a news release from the school. He was 74 years old and had spent 52 years at Badin, where his jolly, exuberant temperament made him a beloved fixture among the student body.
“He touched generations of families,” Jeff O’Donohoe said Monday night. “People that are now grandma and grandpas, their kids and their kids. I don’t think during that time he changed.”
Principal Brian Pendergest went one step further in in the school’s news release, declaring: “Joe DeAngelo was Badin and Badin was Joe.”
He joined the school’s staff in its second year of existence and became a major influence on its trajectory in the following decades, Pendergest added. He taught distributive education full-time, took educational trips to Chicago and New York City, and led the school’s DECA team for student-competitors interested in business and public relations. He also helped advise the senior class, the mock trial team and celebrations such as prom and after-prom.
Despite having spent more than half a century in the same place, he never lost his passion for education and for helping students grow into successful adults.
“He was very good at seeing the student for the person they were and not just as a student,” chemistry teacher Teresa Heinrich said. “He saw the potential they had. He couldn’t retire. He loved being with the students too much.”
His impact was palpable even among students who knew him as he edged into his 70s and rumors of retirement — always false — began to circulate.
“In all honesty, (life would be better) if everyone in the whole world tried every day to think, you know, ‘Why can’t I do what Joe DeAngelo did? Why can’t I bring that happiness to people?’” said 2013 graduate Brandin Rainbolt.
DeAngelo is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his son, Joey.