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A day for Austintown's 'Mr. Bill'

Published: Fri, November 2, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


Bill Sheldon, an Austintown schools custodian for 18 years, hugs Lynn Kirk Elementary students who created songs, books and poems for him. Sheldon, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in August, is undergoing chemotherapy and will start working at Fitch High because of a lowered immune system.


By Elise Franco



Waves, hugs and high-fives from 300 Lynn Kirk Elementary students nearly brought Bill Sheldon to tears.

Sheldon, 58, has been a custodian with the Austintown Local School District for 18 years, many of which were spent working at several elementary schools. Sheldon, affectionately referred to as “Mr. Bill,” was diagnosed in August with lymphoma, and a weakened immune system made it necessary for him to switch to a position at Fitch High School.

To celebrate Sheldon’s time at Lynn Kirk and bid him farewell, Thursday was named “Mr. Bill Day” throughout the district, said building Principal Anthony Russo.

“We’re celebrating here because this is Mr. Bill’s home,” Russo explained. Students in kindergarten through third grade wrote poems, read stories and sang songs letting Sheldon know how much they would miss him at Lynn Kirk.

Dan Bokesch, director of curriculum, said the students’ hard work for Sheldon is just what he needs to help him through his difficult illness.

“When you’re in the situation Mr. Bill is in, all of your good thoughts and words are positive thinking,” he said. “It’s all going from your heart to his heart.”

Sheldon said he’s sad to leave Lynn Kirk and the students he’s gotten to know over the years. “It’s been an emotional day,” he said.

Support from district staff and the Mahoning Valley community also has poured in.

Patty Lynch, a retired district employee and longtime friend of Sheldon’s, said she and employees Mary Breckner and Patti Thompson decided to spearhead fundraising efforts for Sheldon and his family.

“When Bill was not feeling well we were all concerned, and when he was diagnosed with cancer it just hit us,” Lynch said. “To know Bill is to love him because it doesn’t matter what kind of day you had, he would always put a smile on your face.”

Lynch said teachers began having dress-down days where they would wear jeans on Fridays and, in turn, donate to a fund set up for Sheldon. “Every staff member in the district got on board, and older students started asking how they could help.”

The largest fundraising effort yet will be a pasta dinner from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Austintown Middle School. The cost is $6.50 for adults and $3 for children and will include events such as an auction.

Lynch said because Sheldon is undergoing chemotherapy and is unable to work as often as before the diagnosis, the money raised will go toward helping to pay bills.

“We want to do this so he can just stay home and relax and not worry about the bills. I want him to concentrate on getting well,” Lynch said. “He’s just a brave man who will do anything for anybody.”

Sheldon said he’s overwhelmed by the support. “I just can’t believe it. You just don’t realize how many people have love for you.”


1MzVirgoLuv(158 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Images like this does my heart good....In the harshness of this country's recent history, it's times like this that keep me from faultering in my belief of humanity. I will pray for 'Mr. Bill' everyday for his recovery and pray that he can get back to his normalcy called living life! You kick cancer's butt Mr. Bill!

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2redeye1(5663 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

What a GREAT story ! I wish Mr. Bill a lot of good luck and alot prayers in his battle against cancer.

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3WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Bill

I would like to recommend the Ohio State Medical Center for your treatment. I am aware of at least two men with diagnoses such as yours. They initially had R-CHOP treatment locally but were not healed. Ultimately they found great success in their treatment at the James Cancer Hospital which is part of the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. The facilities here are good but the facilities at The James are the state of the art. If there is a cure for you the folks at the James will find it. They perform every known therapy [R-CHOP, R-ICE, R-GEMOX, etc.] in house. They even do stem cell / bone marrow transplants as well as clinical trials of experimental approaches. You can reach them at 1-800-293-5066. They are located at 300 W. 10th Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43210. If you'd like I can ask a physician to contact you or help get you introduced and on your way. Contact me here on this blog or send me a private message and I'll get right back to you if you want or need help. God bless you and try to remain positive. You can beat this!

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