"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Those words exemplify the life of nature enthusiast, bird bander, mentor, husband, father, grandfather, former school teacher, coach, and friend to all, Thomas Robert Kashmer, 79, of Helena who passed away unexpectedly at his home on Monday, June 5, 2023. He was born on May 31, 1944 in Toledo to the late Robert and Margaret (Feher) Kashmer.
From the time he was a young boy, he enjoyed doing all things outdoors including camping, fishing with his dad and three brothers, and canoeing down the Sandusky River. He spent his elementary school years at St. Ann’s Elementary and graduated from St. Joseph Central Catholic High School (SJCC) in 1963. While in high school, he earned four consecutive varsity letters in baseball from 1959-1962. He also earned two varsity letters in basketball from 1961-1962. In 1962, he was the first SJCC athlete to earn the all-Ohio baseball award. He was recruited to play college baseball at Bowling Green State University. Throughout his 4 years of college, he earned varsity letters all 4 years. In 1967, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Education. He liked to tell the story that he was recruited to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers, but turned it down to start a family.
He married the love of his life, Sandra (Myslinski) Kashmer in 1968. Soon after graduating from Bowling Green State University, Tom began his career teaching 6th grade at St. Ann's Catholic Elementary School, Fremont. From there he briefly taught at Old Fort Elementary School (4th grade) and then headed to Gibsonburg High School as a favorite teacher to many. At Gibsonburg, he taught Ohio History and World Geography. In addition, he was also the head baseball coach where from 1968-1974, he held a record 97-37 which was the most victories by a coach. He also held the best winning percentage of seventy-two percent. During this time, he also ventured into part-owning and operating Portage Trail Canoe Livery and Broken Paddle Campground where he spent many days and nights. In 1984, while at Gibsonburg High School, he formed a local conservation organization called Green Creek Marsh Conservancy, also known as Green Creek Wildlife Society (GCWS), to get his students out of the classroom and into the field. Projects of the club included maintaining and monitoring bluebird nesting boxes in Sandusky, Seneca, and Ottawa Counties (the largest bluebird trail system in Ohio), Ohio Adopt-A-Highway Program, a wetland restoration project in cooperation with the US Department of the Interior, spring and fall banding of migratory warblers at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, recycling of tin in the high school and elementary schools, and many more projects. The highlight of each year’s activities for the club was participation in the spring trip of which there were a grand total of 20, some of which included backpacking the Grand Canyon in Arizona, canoeing the Okeefenokee Swamp in Georgia, rafting the Rio Grande River in Texas, hiking the Brooks Mountain range in Alaska. Many former students who were part of the organization said that they wouldn’t be where they are today if not for Mr. Kashmer. The impact he had on so many is beyond measure. Through this organization, his legacy will live on. When not doing activities with GCWS, you could find Tom mowing the dikes at Green Creek Hunting Club (“the marsh”) or duck hunting with one of his faithful labrador companions. In 1996, after 30 years of teaching, Tom retired. It was then that he began his second career as research coordinator for the Sandusky County Park District where he still continued to work up until his death. Some of his research included banding migratory birds and capturing fish at Creek Bend Farm in Lindsey, conducting rail research for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, banding purple martins, tagging monarch butterflies, banding shorebirds at Winous Point, a 5,000-acre hidden gem of wetlands sitting in Port Clinton’s backyard, leading moonlight canoe trips down Muddy Creek Bay, Fremont to see the eagles and the list goes on and on. When not outdoors in nature, Tom could be found in his favorite chair reading a book or nature magazine, cheering on his favorite team the Cleveland Guardians, or taking his daily nap. Throughout his life, he was recognized for his many talents and accomplishments. He was past President of the RB Hayes Audubon Society and also past President of the Ohio Bird Banders Association. In 2008, he was inducted into the SJCC Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was recognized for banding his 100,000th bird. In 2011, he was given the prestigious honor by the Village of Gibsonburg of having the date of May 7th named as Tom Kashmer Day.
Surviving is his wife, Sandy of 55 years; daughters, Kristi (Scott) Urig of Columbus and Kerri Kashmer of Fremont; grandchildren, Alishia of Fostoria, Abbey and Megan of Columbus; brother, Larry (Diane) of Oak Harbor; sister-in-law, Beth (Bob) Turner of Fremont and many, many family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, and siblings Kenneth (Casey) Kashmer and Tony (Nancy) Kashmer.
Memorials in honor of Tom may be made to Green Creek Marsh Conservancy, ℅ Jeanine VanderLaar, 5110 CR 41, Helena, OH 43435 or Sandusky County Park District, 1329 Tiffin Street, Fremont, Ohio 43420.
In honor of Tom, the family would like to invite friends and family to a Celebration of Life Service at White Star Park Barn, 5013 County Road 65, Gibsonburg, Ohio on August 13, 2023 starting at noon. Please join them for food and memory sharing. For those who wish to attend, please RSVP to Kristi Urig at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-570-0967.