Chalk dust and books remain
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
He said he doesn't know if a person ever plans on staying in one spot, especially if that spot is in the middle of Kansas and you are from New York.
But that dot on the map labeled Hays has proven to be a good one for Frank Leo, who met his wife, Kansas native Barb, at a Fort Hays State University baseball game and never left Hays.
Their first date was a barbecue for FHSU baseball players back in 1971, and "the rest is history," Frank said.
Baseball indeed has been a large part of the Leos' lives, with Frank coaching many years at Hays High School and for the Hays Larks collegiate summer program and Barb keeping the scorebook for both teams.
That's why they both will remain involved in the sport even after retiring from teaching in Hays USD 489 with a combined 72 years of service between them.
Frank is stepping aside after 39 years of teaching math at Hays Junior High, now Hays Middle School, and Hays High. Barb, also a math teacher, has 33 years of service, all at Hays Middle School.
"We're still young enough to travel and enjoy the grandkids," Barb said of the couple's five grandchildren.
"It's time to slow down," he said. "Things go so fast."
The Leos still will be busy. They plan to substitute teach. All but one of their grandchildren live in Hays. And then there's that baseball thing.
The Larks open their 2014 season Saturday at home, and although Barb won't be keeping the scorebook anymore, she still will be in the stands, along her four of their grandchildren who live in Hays.
The Leos raised three daughters, now have four grandsons.
"We say that Frank is four-ninths of the way to having a baseball team," Barb said.
While baseball will remain a big part of their lives, the Leos say they will miss teaching, especially the students.
"I don't know if I'd say sad, because I'm not leaving," Frank said of his mixed reactions of retiring. "I think when it will hit me when I'm not walking in and out of the building every day."
"We both loved the teaching part of it," Barb said. "But baseball is Frank's first love."
"After Barb," Frank quickly added.
* Another couple who has spent considerable time in the Hays school district also retired this spring.
Dave and Jill Pollock spent 43 combined years at Hays High School, Dave as a science teacher and Jill, the school nurse.
Another retiree, Barbara Roberts, started at Lincoln Elementary the same year Frank Leo did in the district and has a total of 26 years after teaching there two different stints.
Retirees who started in the 1980s in the district along with Barb Leo were Nancy Stramel, who completed 33 years as counselor at Wilson and Lincoln elementary buildings, and Deb Weatherbee, 29 years as special education teacher at Hays High.
Other retirees this year from the district, including their current school, position and years of service, listed in alphabetical order, are:
Ron Berens, O'Loughlin Elementary, custodian, 16 years; Debbie Breeden, Rockwell Administration Center, occupational/physical therapist, 22; Jean Carter, Wilson Elementary, teacher, 23; Brenda Evans, Lincoln Elementary, para educator, 16; Rebecca Greer, Lincoln Elementary, ECC teacher, 17; Elizabeth Harris, Hays High, librarian, 14; Kirk Maska, Hays Middle, teacher, 17; Donald Seib, Hays High, custodian, 24; Tony Stegman, Wilson Elementary, custodian, 20.