This post includes information on several Arts & Leisure pioneers that were laid to rest in historic Woodlawn Cemetery and Arboretum. These bonus stops are part of Woodlawn's Trees and Tombstones Tour Series.
J. Max Shepherst (1901-1971) Section 29
Director of The Toledo Area Metro Parks (1939-1968). Shepherst worked under the National Park Service with the Civilian Conservation Corps, drew plans for Pearson Metro Park, and was directly responsible for the project, giving work to about 2,000 men.
He succeeded W. W. Farnsworth as director-secretary of the Toledo Area Metro Parks.
His wife, Mildred (1902-1987), was a librarian in the local history and genealogy department at Main Library.
Sylvanus P. Jermain (1855-1935) Section 37
Considered the “Father of Toledo Parks and Boulevards”, served four terms as President/Chairman of the Board of Parks Commissioners.
Served the City of Toledo as Director of Welfare, 1925-26
Treasurer of Woolson Spice Company for 26 years
An avid golfer, founded the first nine hole golf course west of NYC at Ottawa Park in 1899, then designed the 2nd nine holes in 1920-21.
Jermain also developed and founded golf courses at Bayview (1920), Spuyten Dyval (1930), Collins Parks (1932).
Mr. Jermain was a consultant in the building of Highland Meadows, Chippewa, and Glengarry country clubs.
He co-founded Inverness Country Club, brought the US Open to Toledo, and established The Ryder Cup.
Israel Abramofsky (1898-1975) Section 38
A Russian-American artist, Abramofsky was born in Kyiv, Russia, in 1888.
He first left Russia after being arrested and sent to Siberia for "participating in the discussion of Zionism." He ultimately was expelled from Russia — and was dropped at the Austro-Hungarian border with no money.
By 18, he made his way to Toledo to stay with two brothers who lived here here. He went to work in several Toledo factories, making $3 a week.
His sketches and work ethic impressed his brothers and his social circle, which elevated quicker than you might imagine thanks to a friendship that developed with Toledo Mayor Brand Whitlock, they collectively saved money to get him to art school in Paris.
Living on $50 a year, he studied art at the esteemed Académie Julian in Paris, rooming with renowned French painter Chaim Soutine. The Blade reported in his obituary that he had come to know Cezanne, Degas, and Monet during his life.
Recognition first came to Abramofsky with a sale to the French government and a successful show at the Babcock Galleries in New York in 1929.
Despite relative fame and fluency in French, he would ultimately return to Toledo in 1934 to dedicate his life to providing opportunities in the arts to the underprivileged, predominantly in the black and Jewish communities. According to The Blade, "He painted the poor. He painted black and Jewish children and elders. He painted the homeless and hustlers he could see from his window at 237 Michigan St., where he lived for decades, as well as the patriarchs and the memories of his own upbringing in Kyiv."
Before his death, he donated his life’s work to the Shomer Emunin Temple in Sylvania, a collection of more than 2,000 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints.
Some of his work is owned by the Library of Congress and the Chicago Institute of Art.
The Blade once called Israel Abramofsky “the dean of Toledo painters.”
In a profile written by Louise Bruner of The Blade in December 1974, of the then 86-year-old sage, just before his death in January 1975, he said, “People who have lived and suffered have more to say to an artist than a beautiful woman.”
LeMaxie Glover (1916-1984) Section 32
Glover was a nationally recognized sculptor described as a "people artist.” He received art training at the Toledo Museum of Art in his youth. The first African American art teacher in Toledo Public Schools, he put his own artistic career on the back burner so he could teach and inspire young people.
Born in Macon, Georgia, he grew up in Toledo and attended Macomber High School.
He served in the Navy during WWII.
At age 34, he used the GI Bill to enroll in college while working the second shift in a rail yard. He received an Art Education Degree from UT in 1954.
In 1955, Margaret McKelvy, a wealthy Perrysburg woman (a member of the Gosline family, known for Gosline and Barbour Company, recognized as the city's oldest coal firm) who had seen his art, telephoned Glover and asked if he'd like to study for a master's degree at the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He graciously declined, saying he had a family to take care of. According to Karen Glover, the eldest of the three Glover children, Mrs. McKelvy replied, "You have your wife gather all the bills," and she arranged to send a monthly check to cover them, .
Glover got a job in the dining hall to make ends meet. He was among the first three black artists to attend the academy, and the following summer, he became its first black instructor.
In 1956, Glover left Cranebrook after teaching there for one year and returned to Toledo to teach art at Woodward High School until 1968. That year he transferred to Scott High School and taught there until his retirement in 1981 after 25 years. His work has been exhibited at numerous museums and galleries, and he was also a charter member of the Toledo Museum of Art Minority Advisory Commitee, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. Mr. Glover was also an active member at St. Paul's Baptist Church.
WGTE-TV produced "The Art of Giving" in tribute to his talent and work.
LeMaxie Glover died in 1984 at age 67, but his work, particularly sculptures in clay, bronze, marble, and wood, remains in the hands of art collectors from all over the United States.