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Tom Alf, Hamilton school board member and longtime educator, dies at 70

Hamilton Board of Education member Tom Alf says he has waited nearly a half century to see the upcoming Butler Tech merger with the city schools. Starting at the school district’s opening of classes in August, Butler Tech will offer its career education programs at Hamilton’s former Career Technical Center building on district’s high school campus. (Photo by Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)
Hamilton Board of Education member Tom Alf says he has waited nearly a half century to see the upcoming Butler Tech merger with the city schools. Starting at the school district’s opening of classes in August, Butler Tech will offer its career education programs at Hamilton’s former Career Technical Center building on district’s high school campus. (Photo by Michael D. Clark/Journal-News)

A longtime Butler County educator, who recently was re-elected to the Hamilton Board of Education, has died.

Tom Alf, who spent time in every Butler County public school district, died this morning. He was 70.

Hamilton Schools, in a statement on its website, extended its condolences to friends, family and colleagues of Alf.

“For over 40 years, Tom served his community and advanced the mission of public education,” the statement said. “His work in Hamilton City Schools as a teacher, building administrator, and Asst. Superintendent has made this district and community a better place.”

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller worked with Alf on the planning commission and said he admired Alf for his work in education and throughout the Hamilton community.

“One of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met,” Moeller said. “He loved this community, he loved the people in this community. He will be solely missed. It hurts.”

Moeller said it’s impossible to tell how many lives Alf touched throughout his career.

“There are no words to describe what he meant to this community,” Moeller said. “He was one of a kind. When you talked to him, you felt better about Hamilton, better about education.”

Don Garrett, a school resource officer at Marshall Elementary School in Oxford, said he has known Alf for 40 years. On Tuesday, Garrett was wearing his Fitbit that reminded him of Alf, an avid walker.

“He always said that if you were having trouble, just walk it off,” Garrett said. “He built people up, not sucked the life out of them. He was a great guy to talk to.”

Garrett remembers one of his recent birthdays when he was having “a pretty bad day.” Alf showed up at the school with a birthday cake and brought it to Garrett on the playground.

“He didn’t know what was wrong, but he lifted me up,” Garrett said.

Garrett said Alf impacted “thousands and thousands” of lives through his years in education.

“He made Hamilton and surrounding areas a better place,” he said. “He loved kids. He had great community spirit, and he rooted for anything that he believed in.”

MORE: A longtime Butler County educator walked from Hamilton to a Reds game. But, why?

This summer, to celebrate his 70th birthday, Alf and five friends — Jeremy and Julie Rogers, Scott Dennis, Jamie Harrison and Mick Tasso — walked 26 miles from his Hamilton home to Great American Ball Park to watch the Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals.

Alf and his wife, Debbie, have two daughters, Sarah and Katie, and two grandchildren. Alf’s wife is a retired teacher and principal of the Hamilton City Schools. Sarah and her husband, Robert, are career educators.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.