Ozro Richard Steigelman, 75, Hereford High math teacher


Ozro Richard "Dick" Steigelman, a longtime math teacher at Hereford High School and former Air Force pilot, died Wednesday at his Monkton home after years of poor health. He was 75.

Born in York, Pa., he moved to Georgetown, Del., at age 6 and graduated from Georgetown High School in 1949. He went on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he graduated in 1954.

After West Point, he entered the Air Force and flew large transport planes and also U-2 spy planes on covert missions. He earned a Soldier's Medal for stopping on his way home from Dover Air Force Base to rescue a fellow pilot who had crashed.

The Air Force paid for him to attend graduate school, and he earned a master's in engineering administration from the University of Michigan in 1963.

He then began a career in teaching, joining Sparrows Point High School's mathematics department in 1966. He later earned another master's, in education, from the Johns Hopkins University in 1969.

Dorothy Hardin, principal at Pikesville High School, met Mr. Steigelman at Hereford when she taught English there. They became unlikely friends, she said, when the two were named co-sponsors of the junior class. From what she knew of the math teacher with the drill-sergeant tendencies, she figured she was there to play "good cop" to his bad.

At their first meeting with students on the "ring dance" committee, she knew her services would come in handy.

"He came in, threw his books down and started yelling all kinds of profanity," Mrs. Hardin recalled with a laugh. "He threw a plastic ruler and it shattered into a million pieces. He was angry, man - they hadn't done their fliers or something. They better get their act together or they were going to get a dishonorable discharge from the ring dance committee."

But as Mrs. Hardin came to realize, behind the bluster lay a reserve of caring.

"He cared so passionately," she said. "He wanted everything to be right."

As an educator, Mr. Steigelman reached the troubled kids and the gifted ones alike, Mrs. Hardin said. She spent free periods at the back of his classroom, absorbing math lessons she never could as a student.

In a way, Mr. Steigelman adopted the young people who sat down in his class to learn about numbers, said his wife, the former Emmy Lee Butler. The couple married in 1966.

"He had hundreds of children," Mrs. Steigelman said. "Teaching was his second skin. I cannot tell you how much that man loved teaching."

He passed up promotion after promotion to stay in the classroom.

Mr. Steigelman retired from Hereford in 1993.

He and his wife enjoyed their Monkton home, the site of which Mr. Steigelman painstakingly selected with the help of a skill he mastered in the military - analyzing aerial photos of the landscape. The couple filled the glass-and-wood home high on a secluded hill overlooking Gunpowder Falls with art and plenty of well-loved dogs - chihuahuas, Great Danes and Jack Russell terriers.

Services will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Jenkins Funeral Home in Hereford.

He is survived by sisters Norma Jean Ellis of Wilmington, Del., and Lois Holloway of Selbyville, Del.


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