CHAMPION - Longtime community member and Board of Education member Larry J. Durch died Sunday.
He was 72.
Described by those who knew him as a man ''who lived and breathed Champion,'' Durch always looked out for the youth of the community.
Board of Education President David Mahan said he served for the past four years on the board with Durch and considered him to be a mentor.
''If I ever had a question on school policy, Larry was one I could call and get an answer. He was very knowledgeable about school issues both locally and statewide,'' Mahan said.
Mahan said Durch volunteered for many organizations, especially those that benefited children.
''He lived and breathed Champion. Champion's kids were like his kids,'' he said.
Durch was involved with many local community organizations and groups, including as the founder and past president of the Champion Athletic Club and chairman of the Champion Zoning Board.
''Everyone in Champion has heard of Larry. He will be very sadly missed by the community,'' Mahan said.
Durch was a graduate of Champion High School's Class of 1960 and had served on the school board since 1993, including as president.
Champion Schools Superintendent Pamela Hood said Durch was on the board that hired her first as interim superintendent in 1993 and then as a superintendent in 1994.
''He was the board member every superintendent would love to have,'' she said. Hood said Durch was very supportive of her decisions and items she presented to the board.
Hood said Durch's heart was always for the students of the schools.
''The kids were number one with him,'' she said, indicating that he was very supportive of not only school academics but athletics and the fine arts.
She said the school board has 30 days to seek applicants, interview and select someone to fill the remainder of Durch's four-year term, which expires Dec. 31. If that person wants to continue on the board, he or she would have to run in the November general election.
Board member Roger Samuelson served 16 years on the board with Durch.
''He gave 35 years of his time to the Champion Athletic Club helping other people's children with their athletics and he never had any of his own children. That is dedication - to give all that time to help benefit the youth of the community. He will be missed by many,'' Samuelson said.
Durch received numerous awards, including Champion Police Department Citizen of the Year in 1983, Champion Alumni Association Achievement Hall of Fame in 2005, and Champion Alumni Association Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
He is survived by his wife, the former Darlene Montgomery, whom he married on Oct. 3, 1968, and four siblings, Jerry Durch of Hubbard, Marsha Durch of Warren, Donna Love of Niles and Dave (Rose) Durch of Champion.
Services will be held 1 p.m. Thursday at the Carl W. Hall Funeral Home where calling hours are 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and one hour prior to the funeral at funeral home.