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LEETONIA Driscoll's death stirs grief, questions



Published: Fri, November 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police, firefighters and many private citizens were involved in the search for the missing former educator.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LEETONIA -- Not only family, but a community, is mourning the loss of Joe Driscoll.

Police found the body of Driscoll, 76, in the woods Wednesday off Pritchard-Ohltown Road in Trumbull County. He had been missing since Oct. 20.

Driscoll, of 20 Robinson St., was a former teacher and school administrator.

"I don't think you'll find anyone who would say anything bad about Joe Driscoll," said Gary Clark, Leetonia village administrator.

Some patrons of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 1496 on Main Street, which Driscoll frequented, spoke of Driscoll as "a great guy," and others nodded in agreement. No one wanted to comment on the record, however.

"My father was a great human being, and his love touched many people in his life," said Driscoll's daughter, Sue Rauch. "He taught me values and showed me how to go for the brass ring. He said even if I didn't get it, it didn't matter, because trying is what is important."

Sister: "He was a professional man, but a common man," said Driscoll's sister, Mary Hough of Salem. "He loved Leetonia."

She said Driscoll devoted all of his life to education in the area. He taught school in Negley and was administrator there and at the former Fairfield School, now part of the Crestview district. He was superintendent of Lisbon Schools from 1966 to 1979.

"He knew multitudes, and multitudes knew him," Hough said.

"He would do anything for you," Leetonia Patrolman Mike Sinkovich said.

Chief John Soldano said Driscoll was well-liked in the community and his death was a blow for the department.

"It has been a tough 11 days," said Soldano. "I'd see Joe all the time, everywhere in town. We were friends."

Investigation: Trumbull County Sheriff's Department is investigating why Driscoll may have driven to Trumbull County. Trumbull County coroner conducted an autopsy Thursday and results are pending.

"It was such a relief to us for them to find him, but there are a lot of questions I hope to have answered," Hough said.

"He hasn't driven out of Leetonia for a couple years, and if he drove anywhere, he was always home before dark," she said.

Driscoll was last seen about 5 p.m. Oct. 20 when he left the Elks Lodge on Main Street. Witnesses told police Driscoll seemed in good health and good spirits when he left the lodge. Driscoll told them he was going home, they said.

Soldano said police checked Driscoll's home and there were no signs of a disturbance and no clues as to where he may have gone.

Hunters found Driscoll's van Tuesday on a gas well access road and called police.

Search: Soldano said he and his officers as well as Leetonia volunteer firefighters combed the area for days in search of Driscoll. He said many private citizens conducted searches on their own.

"Everyone was talking about Joe," Soldano said. "People all over the county, even when I was off duty would come up and ask if we'd found him yet. People liked him. It's just a devastating loss for everyone."

Hough said she was satisfied with the job Leetonia police and firefighters did in searching so diligently for her missing brother.

"More people than I will ever know were looking for him," she said. "The Leetonia police were terrific. The fire department did an incredible job, looking for him everywhere."

Calling hours will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Woods-Rettig Funeral Home in Leetonia. A mass of Christian burial will be at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Patrick's Church in Leetonia, with burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Leetonia.

Memorial donations can be made to the Leetonia police and fire departments.

tullis@vindy.com




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