Ron Diver, education advocate known as ‘Mr. Carlisle,’ dies at 81

It was helping out on a school levy committee to build a new Carlisle High School in the early 1970s that led Ron Diver into a new career as a advocate for public education as well as a community service leader for decades.

Diver, who served 28 years as a member of the Carlisle Board of Education, died Saturday. He was 81.

He died suddenly while doing something he loved doing — working on the family farm in Madison Twp. with his eldest of six grandchildren, Wesley, his family said.

A direct descendant of Middletown’s founders Daniel Doty and Stephen Vail, Diver was born at Middletown Hospital on July 26, 1938, the son of Jacob Estill and Kathryn (nee Miller) Diver. He was raised in West Middletown and then on the family farm, where he performed farm chores before and after school, according to his son, Jeff Diver.

Diver graduated from Middletown High School in 1956 and attended Miami University. He retired as manager of the business systems and supplies division of NCR Systemedia in 1996 after 37 years.

In addition to managing the family farm, Diver was Southwest Regional Manager of the Ohio School Boards Association, a post he held for 21 years. He loved the OSBA position, for which he was appointed after serving 28 years on the Carlisle Local School Board of Education, his family said.

Diver held leadership positions on the Carlisle board and with the Carlisle Lions Club, where he was a member for nearly 50 years, according to Jeff Diver. He served on the Miami Valley Career Technology Center board of education for 25 years, and most recently joined the board of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Diver greatly believed in public education and was proud of being elected president of the Ohio School Boards Association in 1998, his family said. He also served on the Miami University Middletown Citizens Advisory Committee for more than 15 years.

“He was a tremendous community supporter, a tremendous supporter of youth and a tremendous supporter of family,” Jeff Diver said. “He moved to Carlisle in 1964 but he always loved the family farm.”

Jeff Diver said his father was “Mr. Carlisle” and always demonstrated it.

“He also emulated what he saw in other Carlisle leaders,” he said.

Tammy Lainhart, Carlisle board of education vice president, began working with Diver when she was appointed to a vacant board seat in 1997.

“He was always a mentor to me when I joined the board,” she said. “I had the chance to work with him and he was a fantastic board member.”

Lainhart said Diver was a hard worker, was always available to answer questions and was always happy.

“It’s really sad because he was a pillar in the community,” Lainhart said. “He’ll be missed.”

As news spread about Diver’s death, many educators and community leaders have mourned with comments on social media.

While championing public education as a school board member, Diver and his wife of nearly 61 years, Sandra, were active in the Carlisle community with various organizations for decades. They served as Carlisle Memorial Day Parade grand marshals and were selected to be the Senior King and Queen of the Warren County Fair. Diver chaired the Carlisle Country Fair/Railroad Days for 20 years and was named the first “citizen of the year” in 1995 by the former Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce.

He served for many years as master of ceremonies of the Carlisle Memorial Day parade, as president/coach of the Carlisle Baseball Association, and as a coordinator of the Saturday Morning Youth Basketball Program at Carlisle Intermediate School.

Diver enjoyed watching all sports especially The Ohio State Buckeyes, Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. However, he cherished watching games, recitals, and band concerts by all of his grandkids. He also loved taking his grandkids on hay rides at the family farm, which his grandfather purchased in 1901.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his step mother Jennie (nee Stupp), and three step brothers, Charles, John and Dean Astor.

Diver is survived by his loving wife of nearly 61 years, Sandra (nee Erisman); sons Jeffrey (Angela) Diver and Steven (Kimberly) Diver; and grandchildren, Wesley Diver, Taylor Kraft, Olivia Kraft, Lindsey Diver, John Diver and Natalie Diver.

Due to COVID-19, the funeral service will be at the convenience of the family with a life celebration planned for the spring/summer. Arrangements are being handled by the Anderson Funeral Home, Franklin.

In lieu of flowers, the Diver family requests donations to the Carlisle Lions Club, PO Box 8163, Carlisle, Ohio 45005.

About the Author