W.O. Cline

W.O. Cline

W.O. Cline
photo from the 1959 Elkonian

W.O. Cline

W.O. Cline beekeeping

William Ora Cline, Educator

By Joellen Ulliman, CWH Curator

William Ora Cline (W.O.) was born on April 19, 1907, in Union City, Indiana to sharecroppers Clarence Earl and Ella Cline. He was the oldest of seven children. When he was very young, the family moved to Darke County, Ohio to farm. He graduated from Jackson Township High School in 1925. Desiring more education, he pursued a degree at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. He sadly ran out of money by the end of freshman year.

Not discouraged, he moved home to help his family and enrolled in Darke County Normal School in Ansonia with the goal of earning a teaching degree. Normal schools were designed specifically as one- or two-year programs to teach the “norms” and standards needed to teach elementary, or common, school. They existed in Ohio from 1832 to the beginning of the 1930’s when they evolved into 4-year degree programs. In 1928, W.O. earned an Elementary Teaching Certificate. He taught in a one-room school house near the family farm for a year.

For the next nine years, he taught at New Madison Junior High School in Darke County. During the summer months, he attended classes at Miami University Extension. Interestingly, during this time, he became close friends with Walter Alston, a teacher at his school. They remained very close . . . always enjoying hunting and fishing together. Alston was eventually the baseball manager for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 years. Still the friendship continued throughout the men’s lifetimes.

W.O. was active in the Boy Scouts during his tenure at New Madison. In 1933, he earned a B.S. in Education; he kept striving.

Starting in 1939, the next nine years were spent as superintendent of Franklin Township Schools. In 1940, he earned his M.A. degree in School Administration from Miami. He became principal of Celina High School.

All of these experiences caught the attention of Hadley Watts, the principal of Centerville/Washington Township’s local high school. The population and growth in the area brought more students which meant continual changes in the structure of the school system.

Starting in 1955, the high school was located in the south building (now Cline Elementary) behind Washington Township School (now the Magsig building at 192 W. Franklin). The junior high was in the large building, and in 1958 Hadley hired W.O. to be the principal, establishing an official junior high school.

Often people commented that Hadley Watts and W.O. Cline were a lot alike. They were both hardworking, intelligent, compassionate, practical men. They were good disciplinarians. W.O. remained junior high principal until 1967. Then he moved to the high school principal position until his retirement from 40 years of education in 1969.

W.O. had many passionate hobbies that continued in his later years. He loved fishing, traveling, coaching, gardening, scouting, and beekeeping. He was the president of the local Kiwanis service club, member of Centerville-Washington History, and a leader in his church. He and his wife Marjorie had 3 children:  Allen L., Denise, and Randall. They had six grandchildren.

On January 19, 1974, W.O. died at age 66. His wife Marjorie died in 1989. Both of them are buried near his birthplace in Brick Cemetery, north of Union City, Indiana.

In 1976, the south building was designated a first through fifth grade school . . . and named after the man who spent years educating young people, some in that very building. Cline Elementary couldn’t have been more aptly named!

researched and compiled by Joellen Ulliman, CWH Curator
February 2024