November 27, 2003



Walter F. Anderson

Walter F. Anderson, a pioneering African-American musician who directed the Antioch College music department for nearly 20 years, died Monday, Nov. 24, in Washington, D.C. He was 88.

Born May 12, 1915, he was one of nine children from a poor family from Zanesville, and the grandchild of slaves.

A child prodigy at piano and organ, he played professional music engagements while still in elementary school. He studied music on a full scholarship at Oberlin College, the Berkshire Music Center and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

In 1946, Anderson came to Antioch to oversee the music department, a position he held until 1965. When he was hired, Anderson was the first African-American in the country to head a department at a non-black college, said Joan Horn, who worked as Anderson’s assistant when she was an Antioch student in the early ’50s and is now writing a book on his life.

Not only was Anderson the head of the department — as the first music instructor the college ever hired, he was the department. But Anderson made up for the department’s small size by enticing Dayton- and Springfield-area musicians to give workshops and teach classes, providing students with more learning opportunities. Anderson also wasted no time organizing students into a choir, Horn said in an article on her book project in the News last year.

At the invitation of Rev. Buckley Rude, Anderson and his wife and two children were the first African-American family to join the First Presbyterian Church in Yellow Springs. However, when the Andersons joined, three families left, and Rev. Rude received hate mail and threatening phone calls, Horn said. A year later, the minister moved on, although the Andersons stayed, and Walter became not only the church organist, but a pillar of the church community.

Anderson was also instrumental in other efforts to integrate Yellow Springs, said Horn.

Just as Anderson was passionate about his music, he was passionate about community and seemed to bring people together. Perhaps Anderson’s best-known project was the Apple Butter Festival, which he organized each fall for five or six years at Mills Lawn. At the festival, Anderson cooked up steaming vats of apple butter and organized live music and puppet shows.

His love of cooking led to his opening a bakery and candy business at Xenia Avenue and Corry Street.

Always popular with students, Anderson was known as a man with a keen curiosity and desire to learn, Horn said in the article. For instance, when the upholstery on his sofa grew threadbare, he learned to weave in order to make a new cover. And when he decided he wanted a barbecue pit in his backyard, he carried by hand rocks from the old stone quarry in the Glen, then taught himself stone masonry, and built the pit himself. The barbecue pit became such a popular student meeting spot, Horn said, that several students were married there.

Following his career at Antioch, Anderson became the director of music programs at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Micheline Donley

Micheline Helen Georgette Donley of Yellow Springs died on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Friends Care Community. She was 77.

Born Nov. 1, 1926, in Rennes, France, she was the second of four daughters of Andre and Marie Billet.

Micheline came to the United States in 1947 to marry her future husband, Gene Donley, whom she had met in WWII. She was a member of St. Paul Catholic Church since that time.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Thomas (Gene) Donley, in 1981; her father, Andre, in 1934; and her mother, Marie, and one sister, Yvette, both in 1995.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Thomas Andre and Deborah Ann Donley of Yellow Springs; two grandchildren, Elizabeth Myers of Huber Heights and Jennifer Myers of Missouri; one great-grandchild, Devin Andre McCrea; two sisters, Christine and Hugette of France; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A mass of Christian burial was celebrated Saturday, Nov. 22, in St. Paul Church, followed by interment in St. Paul Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Dayton and Friends Care Community.


Avery I. Sheline

Avery I. Sheline of Clifton died Thursday, Nov. 20, in his residence. He was 88.

Born Jan. 3, 1915, in Clark County, he was the son of Ira and Ann (Snyder) Sheline.

He was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps and retired in 1970 as a fireman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He was a member of the Clifton Presbyterian Church, Yellow Springs Lodge No. 421 F.&A.M., Scottish Rite, Valley of Dayton. He was a 38-year member of the former Clifton Volunteer Fire Department, which is now Miami Township Fire-Rescue.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Sheline, in April 1992.

He is survived by three sons and a daughter, Jim A. Sheline of Clifton, Charles (Mickey) Sheline of Clifton, Douglas H. Sheline of London, Ohio, and Deborah K. Calier of Fayettsville; seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren; a brother, Rodney Sheline of Charlotte, N.C.; and three sisters, Eva Hill of Xenia, Isabelle Cormack and Maxine McCabe, both of Springfield.

Graveside services were held Tuesday, Nov. 25, in Clifton Cemetery.