ASHLAND — Ev DeVaul is 79, and spent more than a third of his life leaving his legacy on athletics at Ashland High School.
Many people in the community have long felt it fitting that AHS makes sure no one forgets the footprint he’s left.
On Friday during the Arrows’ season-opening game against River Valley, DeVaul was honored at Ashland Community Stadium, where the orange and black press box now features his name as the Everett DeVaul Press Box.
“I was thrilled,” DeVaul said. “I’ve said, ‘Grown men do cry,’ because it made me cry when I first saw it.”
DeVaul, 78, initially was a teacher at AHS in 1967, but moved into the role of interim athletic director and vocational director in 1971 after the passing of Sam Marchio, who had previously carried those positions.
By 1972, he officially had become the athletic director, vocational director and assistant principal at the school. When he finally closed his time as Ashland AD in 1998 — the longest tenure of anyone in that position — the school had grown from eight boys sports teams to 19 combined between boys and girls.
A 1962 Cloverleaf High School graduate, DeVaul was honored in 1993 as Ohio’s Athletic Director of the Year, then entered the Ohio Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame in 1996.
During 10 of his years leading the athletic department, the Arrows won the Ohio Heartland Conference all-sports title, which went to the most well-balanced, successful school within the conference.
“I don’t know if people realize how impactful Ev was to our students and our student-athletes in his (27) years as athletic director,” said Steve Paramore, a 1999 Ashland High School graduate who is kicking off his first full school year as Ashland City Schools superintendent. “He was kind of clandestine with a lot of his marketing strategies.”
Paramore emphasized DeVaul’s efforts in marketing that helped drive attendance and revenue to firm up the foundation of Ashland athletics. Things like giveaways, 50-50 raffles, large sponsorships and promotions might be commonplace today, but when DeVaul was installing them decades ago, he was a trailblazer.
He even wrote a marketing guide in 1985 for booster clubs and athletic departments while adding speaking engagements at different events to his workload along the way.
“I’ve had a lot of people who wanted to do something really special for Ev and we could never really land on what it would be,” Paramore said. “When I became superintendent I said, ‘Here’s an idea that I have.’ ”
Friday’s dedication was not only special to DeVaul, but also to Paramore, who is married to DeVaul’s daughter Kerre. Paramore revealed the tribute to DeVaul when it first was installed in June, alongside his wife, daughters Klaira and Mazie, and his secretary Raelee Bennett Crunkilton — who ironically was DeVaul’s student secretary during her senior year of high school.
That first glimpse at the official “Everett DeVaul Press Box” was a complete surprise to DeVaul, who carries his own father’s name — something Paramore said added to the emotion of the moment.
On Friday, DeVaul celebrated with his wife Judith, the Paramores and his daughter Kirsten Fuller’s family, including her husband Marty and their daughters Gabrielle and Camille. Plenty more from the Ashland community helped commemorate the moment by his side, including close friend Mark Humrichouser, who drove up from Westerville.
DeVaul said it was only natural to have some of his best memories at the stadium stirred up.
He recalled helping generate dollars alongside Dave Gray and Russ Harpster during the campaign for updated lights, aluminum seating and an improved press box at Ashland Community Stadium.
DeVaul said before all those additions for the 1985 season, the previous plywood press box could fit about 10 people, who had to turn sideways to walk in it. He said having some of the home and visiting coaches seated just feet from each other made for some interesting Friday nights.
Other games he recalled featured snow so heavy that the field wasn’t visible and another night when Ashland was receiving heavy rains from a tropical storm. He said the only people left in the stadium at game’s end — aside from the teams and officials on the field — were two guys in the press box.
The 1986 home opener against defending state-champion Galion brought out a school-record crowd of 6,500. DeVaul remembered bringing in extra bleachers from the fairgrounds to help with that.
His impact within the Ashland community didn’t cease after his departure from Ashland High School. DeVaul became the marketing director for Betlin Athletic Uniforms before being selected to lead the United Way of Ashland County in 2006 as its executive director.
He commanded that post for a little over a decade before moving on to a community relations role for a few years with the Ashland County Community Foundation.
“Ev is the epitome of a servant leader,” said Jim Cutright, president/CEO of the ACCF. “It has been my great pleasure to have partnered with him over the years to raise money for Arrow athletics, collaborate with him in his position as director at United Way and serve side-by-side with him at ACCF. This honor is so well-earned.”
In recent years, DeVaul has spent his time helping out with operations at the Ashland Golf Club, including a key role during this summer’s 100th anniversary celebration at the club.
He joked that some might call him the vice president of fun at AGC.
“I came here in 1967 and thought I’d be here a couple years,” DeVaul said. “And I’m still here.”
“(The press box dedication) was a great night,” added the 2012 Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, “and now we move on.”
Paramore doesn’t think DeVaul will ever stop working.
“He’s bigger than life to me,” Paramore said. “I’m just really proud that the press box is going to be a lasting memento of everything that he’s done — and he still does — for this community.”