These days, Charles Bieser (Class of 1958) can often be found with a paintbrush in his hand, often working on a painting related to transportation. It could be a train, a plane or a ship - all modes of transportation have been fascinating him since he was a young boy. Frequent trips by train to visit his grandparents in Iowa and a very memorable trip on a Great Lakes Steamer instilled in Charles a sense of wonder about the machines that took him to and fro.
As a student at Edwin D. Smith Elementary, Charles loved art and recalled his teacher Ruth Herr instructing them on the use of finger and oil paints. He enjoyed those classes so immensely that he also took classes at the Dayton Art Institute after school. But by the time he was in high school, that interest in art had waned. He was focused on classes that would prepare him for a career in law - the family business. However law was not a passion for Charles. But travel was. So he and his wife Nancy took their mutual interest and started a travel business - Ship Shop Cruises - in 2003.
It was shortly after that Charles rediscovered his love of painting in their community of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. A community with a robust recreational program for its residents, Charles took classes in oil and acrylic painting through the community center’s art program. He has been enjoying weekly art classes over the last 15 years, and enjoys participating in local art shows, and has been honored with awards for his paintings. We hope you enjoy the products of Charles’ hobby as much as we do! Charles lives in Palm Beach Gardens, FL with his wife Nancy.
“Sophia” (left) - was painted from a black and white image that I found absolutely arresting. I just added color. My long-time friend and fellow painter Jack Keough opines that the most interesting paintings set up a question to engage the viewer in an answer: i.e. What is behind that fortress-like door? Why does Sophia have to knock? Who will open? Jack may be right—“Sophia” won the second place award for oils last month in the Lighthouse Art Center’s annual Member Show.
“Exit to Canal Street” (below)- railroading in the underworld of the New York subway. I’ve always loved Edward Hopper’s work. Here, I hope the shadows, barriers, muted colors and dark stairs convey a Hopperesque sense of loneliness and isolation. I seldom go back to a finished painting, but I am thinking of adding a solitary figure on this one waiting...waiting on the station platform.
“Depot in Flagler Yellow” (left) This oil was painted a few years ago from my own photo of the just restored Florida East Coast Railway train station. Henry Flagler painted all of his depots a brilliant yellow, his favorite color, which I thought contrasted nicely with the deep shadows and bright blue of the day’s cloudless sky. The depot is now situated on the edge of the Loxahatchee River less than a mile from the famous Jupiter Light which is captured (with artistic license) in the window.
“Steamer North West at the Detroit River Light” (below) - Since a childhood passage aboard a Great Lakes steamer, I’ve been a ship aficionado, an enthusiasm expressed in many of my paintings. This oil, 20” X30”, was inspired by a monochrome lithograph that used to hang in The Town Pump, a favorite Kelley’s Island summer haunt noted for fried perch sandwiches and cold beer. (I stared over the bar at that litho many times!) I’ve adapted the scene from the original, painted by early 20th Century artist Howard Sprague, arguably the best of the Great Lakes maritime talents. North West was one of two extravagant, exceptionally handsome sisters—virtual showboats—built by James J Hill to sail between Buffalo and Duluth as an extension of the Great Northern Railway, and is portrayed here passing a typical no-name freighter at the head of Lake Erie.
When you were a student at OHS, was teaching a career you were considering? What teachers had an impact on you and why?
I went through the Oakwood School System from kindergarten through senior year and graduated in 1975. Two teachers were especially inspiring to me during high school. Mr. Gural taught American History and Government . He was tough, but fair and inspired my interest in history & political science. Ms. Davis was an English teacher, inspiring my interest in the power and use of language as it relates to story telling, along with topics highlighting archetypal themes and humanity’s quest for meaning regardless of historical time period. I never contemplated a career in teaching while in high school or college. Teaching didn’t call me until my mid 30’s. By that time, I’d already worked in the corporate and political arenas, and later had an opportunity to spend time as a stay at home mom with my own three children.
Share a fond memory of two of your time at OHS.
Walking back and forth to school everyday, playing on competitive tennis and field hockey teams, Friday night football games, spending night at my best friend’s house, school dances (with parent chaperones who’d often been partying together before ever arriving to the dances!), the excellence of Oakwood teachers & staff, and some amazing life long friendships.
What was it like turning over your class to another alum turned teacher, Ellie Randall? What advice do you have for her?
Making the decision was very difficult. I agonized for quite some. Then, the decision to retire was even harder, because teaching remained nothing less than a calling. I love teaching; being in the classroom and working with young people! It remains one of the greatest joys (blessings) of my life. But, life circumstances change and it became clear a move was necessary in order to begin this new chapter of my life. Passing the baton (of teaching) on to one of my favorite students, has been rewarding. I could not be happier for or prouder of, Ellie Randall! From the start, I knew that Ellie was a born teacher and that her passion for teaching and topic matter as well as dedication toward the students, would match my own! And, that makes my heart smile!!! Ellie and I have talked and texted through out the school year, sometimes with advice but most often to let her know how proud I am of the ways she’s moved into a such challenging new role, along with her outstanding work with students this year.
So, can you tell us a bit about your experiences at OHS that inspired you to pursue your career?
Oakwood High School was instrumental in providing a strong math and science foundation that is invaluable in my career. I have always gravitated toward "black and white," factual thinking, and AP Biology with Mrs. Hobby and AP Calculus with Mr. Lane easily became my favorite classes. The courses, as with most OHS courses, were challenging and pushed me to apply the content in ways I had not previously experienced. The instructors' pure love of teaching was apparent, and I think that's what sets OHS apart from many high schools. Teachers at OHS are truly dedicated to their students, doing whatever it takes for each individual to succeed. With my love of math and science solidified, I went on to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and majored in biology. I completed a pre-medical/pre-dental track, and I was accepted to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. I attended a semester before deciding that dentistry was not the best professional fit for me. Looking for something more holistic and a bit less tedious but still using my skills, I transferred into the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Believe it or not, I was still taking classes like biostatistics and physiology; in other words, I couldn't escape math and science. I completed my Master of Public Health (MPH) in nutrition and dietetics, and I went on to obtain my Registered Dietitian certification. I currently work as a clinical dietitian at Atrium Health's Transplant Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. On a daily basis, I use my OHS math and science background to calculate tube feeding regimens, individualize IV nutrition formulations, and understand my patients' medical diagnoses.
How has your work as a registered dietician changed in light of COVID-19?
COVID-19 has brought a lot of unexpected changes to the hospital world. Thankfully, transplant is considered an essential service, so patients are still able to receive life-saving and life-changing liver, kidney, and heart transplants. However, our transplant center has had to change how we go about providing care. As a dietitian, I have been working primarily from home. Each morning, I participate in virtual rounds with our care team, including a surgeon, physician, physician's assistant, pharmacist, social worker, nurse coordinator, and dietitian. We discuss each of our patient's care and make a plan for the day. I am then able to check in on my patients individually, either calling or Skyping them in their hospital rooms. I can write notes in patient charts and put in orders from home. Most afternoons, I call outpatients at their homes to perform nutrition evaluations. These evaluations are used in weekly meetings to help approve patients to be able to receive transplants. While I miss seeing my patients in person, I am thankful that I have still been able to provide consistent care from a distance.
When you are not working, how do you enjoy your free time?
Outside of work, I enjoy a number of activities. I love taking my dog, Newton, for walks, and I enjoy going on daily runs. I always seem to have a book in progress. Additionally, I'm an avid cook and baker, and it's hard to pry me away from the kitchen. When I do get pried away, I like exploring Charlotte with friends and my boyfriend, Matt. There are so many delicious restaurants and breweries to try!
And one last question... living out of state since college, what do you miss the most about Oakwood, OHS?
Oakwood will always be home. I miss so many things about it, but two things stick out in my mind: daily Dorothy Lane Market trips (sometimes multiple trips per day, if I'm honest) and the sound of the lifeguard's whistle at Gardner Pool. Growing up across from Shafor Park and the pool, the whistle will forever remind me of my idyllic Oakwood childhood.
Claire's brother Benjamin is a also an OHS graduate from the Class of 2010, and lives in Washington, DC. He is a digital marketer with the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Like the Class of 2020, the Class of 1964 had an utterly defining moment occur in their last year of school. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Bill Pees (Class of 1964) recalls the shock of the assassination, with eerie silences pervading the schools and community. Sitting in class, he remembers, his teacher struggled to find the words to tell students what had happened.
Maybe it was this unsettling event that prompted Bill to take his “job” so seriously, or maybe it was teacher Bill Kuhn pulling him out of the classroom and sharing these words of wisdom, “Bill, if you do nothing else in your life you’ll plan reunions.” Pees had been elected Class President. He was surprised, and wonders if he is the only Class President elected to be a C student. With a schedule full of the most difficult classes meant to prepare a future engineer for college, Pees was an average student with dreams of teaching and coaching instead. Nevertheless, his classmates elected him as their leader. Bestowing this honor and responsibility upon him, he said gave him confidence in his leadership abilities, and elevated him, made him proud.
Pees went on to Ohio University, and fulfilled his dreams of teaching when he started a career in Columbus as a Physical Education. There he met his bride Candy, and they returned to Dayton in 1970 when she was looking for a teaching position in Speech and Drama, teaching at Fairmont until she came to Oakwood in 1986. Bill taught at Smith and Harman schools, and coached basketball, football and junior high track for 3 years. He then left teaching to join high school classmate Steve Hayes’ family business Hayes Tools as a Sales Representative, a career he held for over 44 years.
Bill stayed connected with OHS sports, scouting the football opponents for Howard Sales alongside Oakwood teachers Don Walls and Dave Spears. These scouting trips held many good memories, including the time Bill’s audio recording interfered with the Brookville sound system and played his narration of the game on their loudspeaker!
When it comes to Class President, Bill Pees is the gold standard. He has kept his classmates connected, even before the age of computers and internet, and has planned reunions for 55 years. In addition to being Class President Pees was a member of the original Oakwood Athletic Hall of Fame committee, and loved being a part of that group alongside his friend and fellow coach Howard Sales. We are so grateful for Bill, and all he has done for his class, our alumni, and for the Oakwood Schools. Thank you, Bill!
Bill Pees has 2 children who are also alumni of Oakwood Schools - Brady Pees (1993), a registered Nurse at West Chester Hospital, and Katie Pees Arber (1995), who is a drama teacher at Milford High School in eastern Cincinnati.
The Oakwood Alumni Association received our favorite kind of email when we heard from Nicholas Reasoner, Class of 2006, about a month ago. Today we’d like to shine a light on the work Reasoner and his company, TransLoop, is doing to combat hunger in Chicago. TransLoop is donating $1 per shipment moved to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s Food Bank, during the COVID-19 outbreak. TransLoop officials believe this will equate to more than 1,000 meals this month alone. Read the note we received from Nicholas.
“My name is Nicholas Reasoner and I am a Harman Elementary/Oakwood High School Graduate, class of 2006! After graduating from Oakwood I moved to Cincinnati where I attended the University of Cincinnati and graduated in late 2010.
I am now the proud Founder and CEO of TransLoop (transloop.io), which is a nationwide, technology-driven, logistics company. Oakwood and the school system, to me, are 100% the reason I am where I am today. I feel that it is my time to give back to the community in some way, and what I would like to do is teach and/or advocate for kids in the Oakwood system, to learn more about supply chain and logistics. With everything going on in today’s world, logistics, supply chains and trucking are the reason we are able to survive and I am so fortunate to be in this industry. During the COVID-19 outbreak, TransLoop has been able to provide trucking for companies across the nation to deliver products of all sorts to people in need. It has been a rewarding time during these questionable past few weeks being able to help people in need.
In mid-2019 our company brought on another Oakwood graduate (Luke Minard, Mid Market Logistics Executive) from the Class of 2015. Due to his learning abilities and quick success, it made me realize that people coming out of the Oakwood school system are beyond impacted in a positive way due to the community which Oakwood surrounds its people with. I want TransLoop to be a place where Oakwood graduates can come intern, work for and/or learn from during their time in high school.”
TransLoop is a digital, third party logistics company revolutionizing logistics for shippers and carriers. TransLoop brings cutting-edge technology together with white-glove service to deliver unprecedented transparency, industry-leading reliability, constant innovation and real-time collaboration with every shipment. TransLoop’s mission is to be a true partner for the road ahead, and our battle-tested team has experience working with companies of all sizes, from smaller sized shippers moving one shipment a day to Fortune 500 brands shipping thousands.
You are finishing up your sophomore year at OU. What are you studying, and what have you enjoyed about campus life so far? (Activities, experiences, social life)
I am an English major with a minor in History in Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, a program that finds its educational roots in the tutorial model used by both Oxford and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Tutorials are made up of a student (or a small group of students) and a professor, and allow me to learn from my professor by way of deep, analytical conversations and individualized coursework rather than lectures. Not only does this give me the ability to form close relationships with my professors, it also allows me to take the reigns of my own education and study what fascinates me without the restraints of a typical college curriculum. Though I was unsure and skeptical of such an exceptional (yet admittedly bizarre) educational model at first, the tutorial program and I are a perfect fit, and I could not be happier with the opportunities and people that the Honors Tutorial College has introduced into my college experience.
When I'm not in the classroom, I can be found with my extracurricular commitments: I serve as the Vice President of Alumni Engagement for the Student Alumni Board, joined the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and I even served as the Vice President of the Society of Photographic Illustrators this past year! (Photography was a new hobby I decided to pursue upon entering college and it's been a wonderful creative outlet!) These organizations have offered me communities and incredibly valuable friendships as I tried to find my place in OU's community, and with their help I gradually felt more at home, and once my anxieties and worries were removed, I finally began to fall in love with Ohio University, Athens and everything in between.
I must confess that my biggest concern when I first arrived at college was making new friends. I'd lived in Oakwood all my life and had similarly had the same friends all my life; how was I to find new ones in this frightening, vast environment? The 2022 cohort of HTC's English program is made up of me and four other students, and they were the first Bobcats I met on my orientation day. I was immediately intimidated by the other four students when I first met them. They each oozed intelligence and brilliance, and I began to question my inclusion among these other bookworms; what could I possibly bring to the table that these other four couldn't? I was unsure of whether I was deserving to be in the program at all, and began to lament my interactions with them. But after some time passed, I got to know them and talk to them, and to my surprise, I found people who loved the same authors I did, people who share my aspirations and people who instead of being my superiors, were in fact my equals and just like me. Flash forward to today, and those other four English students are now my best friends, and I'm even moving into a house in Athens with one of them! It turns out that I was aching for friends like them all my life, and through HTC I've finally found them. It's been so wonderful to have found a college community that embraces all that I am and amplifies my strengths: my education is as unique as I am, my extracurriculars make me happy and encourage me to take risks and try new things, and in my friends I've found true companions and lifelong connections. And with OU alumni almost everywhere I look, I never forget for a second that I am a part of a long history and tradition, and everyday I think about how lucky I am to be a Bobcat.
What experiences from OHS do you recognize as having prepared you for success in college?
As a student with Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD, I learn in a different format than most and need extra support in order to succeed. I was recognized as dually identified as a young child in the Oakwood Schools system, and spent time in the learning center as well as the gifted program. While this can be a confusing label for a lot of educators, the Oakwood Schools staff always took it all in stride and made sure that I was challenged within reason, but with the proper accommodations in hand. Those with Asperger's Syndrome are known to have a 'special interest,' something that we love and dedicate a lot of time to, to the point that we can even become experts on that special subject.
From a very early age it became clear to my family and teachers that my special interest was English. When I was younger I used emotions in books and TV to decipher words high above my comprehension level, and started using them myself to elicit the reactions I thought they produced. My parents gawked at me in amazement as I spewed out more and more complex words, completely unaware that I was actually using them in the correct way. As I got older I began devouring books one by one, and my parents found themselves approaching my teachers for reading lists as my mind continued to grow and demand more material. I fell in love with words and the way they can make you feel; to this day I still wholeheartedly believe that words are the most powerful thing in the world and can solve any problem.
Thankfully for me, the Oakwood High School Staff were very embracing of my special interest and entertained my dreams of becoming a teacher like them. Oakwood's Advanced Placement courses were excellent preparation for the rigors of college work, though I didn't realize just how valuable they were at the time. I was trained to follow a schedule, manage my own time and work toward an end goal (the AP exams at the end of the school year), all valuable skills that would go on to assist me in the individually-focused tutorial program. I firmly believe in the importance of the AP program, and I'd even be as bold as to pin many Oakwood graduates' successes in college on their exposure to AP classes.
Oakwood High School also awakened my interest in and love for music. I was awe-struck by the Oakwood High School Marching Band when I was only eight years old...little did I know that I would go on to spend seven years in the Oakwood Bands program. I was in the marching band, concert band, the pit orchestra and even the pep band, and was awarded the Frederick R. Walker Band Award upon the closure of my band career. I began playing clarinet at ten years old, and it has grown to become one of the great loves of my life. Something in my brain clicked when it came to music, and ever since then I've found it impossible to imagine my life without band and my clarinet by my side. When it came time to make my college decision, I was at first dead-set on my alma-mater-to-be having a marching band that I could take part in. Sadly, this slowly changed as I began to consider other colleges that had remarkable academic programs, but no marching band. I chose OU in April of 2018, and by then I had decided to put my participation in a marching band in my rear view mirror for now. What I failed to remember upon my decision, was that OU, in fact, does have a marching band, one of the most well renowned in the nation, and it is easily one of the most beloved traditions by the students. And while I am not among their ranks (I am a member of the University Concert Band instead), I did not realize just how important it is for me to go to a school that appreciates marching band as much as I do. I am the Marching 110's (self proclaimed) biggest fan, and love cheering for them along with fellow students. While I may march on the field no longer, I will always be a marching band geek at heart, and I have Oakwood to thank for that. I also think it pertinent to mention that without a suggestion by OHS faculty, I would never have considered OU in the first place. Guidance counselor Adam Woessner was the very first person to suggest the Honors Tutorial College to my parents as a possibility for my college career. He saw the potential I had, as an out-of-the-box student, to do well in an out-of-the-box educational system, and without that suggestion OU would never have been close to the realm of possibility as the college I'd end up attending. And for that seemingly tiny suggestion, I am forever grateful. Another experience that ended up being unexpectedly influential to my college experience was my time serving on the Oakwood Schools Foundation's Student Advisory Board in high school. I joined this group as a way to fill empty time and learn about the behind the scenes decision making of the Oakwood administration; it did not demand too much time commitment, introduced me to wonderful alumni and taught me a lot about grants, competitions and other subjects I was too young to seriously think about. Flash forward to August 2018, and I'm wandering through the Student Activities Fair looking for clubs to join. I stumble across a group titled the 'Student Alumni Board,' and it reminded me of my time with OSF. I absent-mindedly signed up for it thinking it would be similar to the organization I joined in high school, low-commitment and not really my major focus. I would later find that I had actually signed up for one of the top five largest student organizations on campus, with the kindest people who were proud of being a Bobcat and encouraged me to be proud as well. I fell in love with SAB and everything about it. Before I knew it, it had become my biggest time commitment in college. I dove headfirst into committing to SAB and did my best to contribute to events and become a hardworking member for the organization, and I decided to run for a leadership position while I was abroad in London. My Asperger's is common knowledge among SAB and its members, but to my surprise and joy, I was elected the 2020-2021 VP of Alumni Engagement. And to think, all of this started with my time in OSF's Student Advisory Board. I never would've thought that my interest in alumni would have evolved into anything this meaningful, but here I am two years after graduating high school, and I'm still as in love with alumni as I was in high school, and am more dedicated to serving them than ever in college. My time at Oakwood High School helped me form so many key aspects of my life, and because of my experiences in high school I am a better, happier, and more curious student in college.
COVID-19 has made the future uncertain for our entire world. What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
The coronavirus pandemic has had and continues to have devastating impacts on all of us, and I am no exception. In January, I set off to study abroad in London for a semester with a group of OU students and a professor. London is a hub of cultural and literary innovation, and every little nook and cranny has a secret history behind it. Going to London had been a longtime dream of mine, and I was so excited to finally see it come true. The world felt like my oyster and I had so many places to go to, people to meet, experiences to have. The two months that I spent in England were magical and changed my life forever; London was everything I wanted it to be and more. I felt invincible, untouchable....until early March rolled around. COVID-19 had been ravaging the globe and began seeping into the cracks of both the UK and the US. Ohio University made the difficult decision to recall all of its study abroad programs, including mine, and I found myself forced to leave London a month before scheduled. All of the sudden the world that once felt so open collapsed in on me, and I was devastated. I've been home for three weeks now, and it's been hard knowing that life could be so different right now. But (after a couple days of crying, of course) I decided to combat this unexpected setback with what I do best: planning big plans and dreaming big dreams! Everyone tried to comfort me by reassuring me that "I'd go back," to which I'd respond with frustration, "You don't know that! When will I be back?" So, I decided to create a timeline and an answer to that question. To that end, I've at last found a means through which I could get back to London someday in the near future when it is safe to travel again. It's wobbly, but I need to trust that if going back there is what I truly desire, then my hardworking spirit will see to it that it will happen. This is not the end of my time in London...it's only the beginning. As far as beyond that, I hope to attend graduate school following my graduation from Ohio University to pursue a Master's Degree and/or PhD in English Literature. My truest dream is to become an English Professor who shares the wonders of the English language with budding young minds. I dream of writing a book in my free time and becoming a valuable, respected contributor to the world of academia. I dream of continuing my world travels and becoming the seasoned adventurer I might have gotten the chance to become had I had more time to explore London and its close by neighbor, Europe. Of course, I also dream of marrying, settling down and having two special little ones once the time is right. As exciting as academia and traveling are, and as cliche as this next saying may sound, there is no greater or more rewarding adventure than that of building a family. The future may be uncertain right now, but that doesn't mean it's not as bright as it was yesterday. With a little elbow grease, and love and consideration for our neighbors, we will soon be able to put this pandemic in our rear view mirrors.
As a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering as well as Chemical and Biological Engineering, what experiences in your youth led you to this field of study and career?
Of course the foundation years from which ones career arc starts include a huge number of formative experiences. By all means my parents, Bette and Howard Carr, were the most important. All the activities they encouraged, church, sports, Dayton Boys Choir, and a love for the outdoors, come to mind right away. Being a student working through the public schools, Smith and then OHS, provided learning and high performance standards that served me well. Not only do I say that in regard to academic subjects (chemistry and physics were great; Greek mythology and poetry -- not so great), but also I learned to write well. And somehow, through it all, I acquired some sense of my own self.
Beyond these factors was the context of Dayton at the mid-point of the 20th century. So many companies had become successful because they were based on advanced technologies. It was a part of the fabric of Oakwood to have had casual encounters with Orville Wright (trick or treating in 1946 and ’47) and Charles Kettering (pushing a grocery cart around Dorothy Lane Market). Seeing airplanes fly overhead that preceded the roar of their engines by quite a distance was simply awe-inspiring. On civilian visitation days at Wright Field my Aunt Louise Linard would take us through public and not-so-public areas, allowing me an insider’s view of all the new things the Air Force was developing. I was totally captivated. Interestingly, the labs that she really pushed to visit were the ones dealing with materials. Little did I know then that I would ultimately have a 60-year career in materials science and engineering.
What I have done with my career stems from all that was just outlined. Starting in 1970 as a faculty member at Northwestern, my first 25 years were dedicated to research that advanced our understanding of polymeric materials and to teaching subjects that were embraced by this area. This was followed by my becoming the undergraduate dean, which afforded me a platform for promoting the true value of engineering. Engineering is a way of thinking: creating new things to improve peoples’ lives. In short order (on the time scale of academics, anyway) we made major changes to the curriculum and its accompanying pedagogy, and by many measures this educational conversion was successful, much to the benefit of a research-intensive university like Northwestern.