Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ulrich Zuercher, the Truants’ Nemesis, but Friend to All

Ulrich Zuercher was born in Switzerland in 1849, and he settled in Sandusky in June 1871. In February of 1890, Ulrich Zuercher was appointed the truant officer of Sandusky City Schools, a position he held for 33 years. Mr. Zuercher never used an automobile in his duties, and he estimated that he walked over 50,000 miles during his years as truant officer. Zuercher served as the truant officer under sixteen different school boards. His beginning salary was $40.00 a month. In an article in the August 25, 1923 issue of the Sandusky Register, Mr. Zuercher recalled calling on the home of a student named Johnny. Johnny’s parents were not fond of the compulsory education law in Ohio, and they thought it was just fine for Johnny to skip school. Johnny’s mother came after Ulrich Zuercher with a club, while Johnny’s father came after him with a hammer. Mr. Zuercher made a speedy departure. After visiting the family again, accompanied by a law enforcement official, Johnny’s parents saw to it that their son attended school regularly. Though Mr. Zuercher had to often admonish children in his line of duty, he also became well liked by Sandusky’s students. Mr. Zuercher would visit classrooms and tell stories that “evoked the mirth of children of all ages.”

Due to poor health, Ulrich Zuercher retired from his job as truant officer on September 1, 1923. The first Christmas after Mr. Zuercher retired, he was inundated with cards and letters from Sandusky school pupils wishing him well. On January 15, 1925, Ulrich Zuercher died following a lingering illness Hundreds of Sandusky residents paid their respects to the veteran truant officer. Funeral services for Ulrich Zuercher were conducted by Rev. T.J.C. Stellhorn at Zion Lutheran Church. Rev. Stellhorn fondly told of incidents in Mr. Zuercher’s line of duty, which had caused him to be so beloved by the community. Pallbearers for Ulrich Zuercher were: Sandusky School Superintendent Frank J. Prout, Principal Karl Whinnery, and faculty members Carl Ruff, C. E. Fleming, and W. A. Richardson. Val Hottenroth, the truant officer who took Mr. Zuercher’s place, also served as a pallbearer. Students and staff members of Sandusky City Schools collected enough money to purchase flowers for Mr. Zuercher as well as a grave marker. Ulrich Zuercher was buried at Oakland Cemetery.

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