Russ Pfahler graduated from Shelby High School in 1961. From a class of 172, Russ was one of four students with a perfect GPA. At SHS he won varsity letters in football, baseball, track and basketball. He was part of two Northern Ohio League championships and was named first team All-NOL twice and All-Ohio once. In 1961 Russ was selected to play in the Ohio North-South All Star football game. At SHS he served as class president and on the Class Executive Committee once year each and on Student Council for three years. In addition he was co-sports editor of the 1961 Scarlet Sand represented SHS at Buckeye Boys State.
At Purdue University Russ earned a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering, graduating with honors as fifth in his class. He also earned three varsity football letters as a defensive back, won a Big Ten Conference punting championship in 1962 and was named honorable mention on the All Big Ten Scholastic Football Team. He was the first player to twice win the Nobel Kizer Award for the highest GPA among football varsity lettermen. In 1964 Purdue selected Russ to represent the university at a national conference of manufacturing engineering students hosted by Northwestern University.
Following graduation Russ worked in a number of positions in manufacturing engineering and management, rising to vice president of operations. While building his career, Russ returned to school. As a part-time student he earned MBA and Ph.D. degrees in management at Xavier and California Western Universities.
After retiring from a robotics manufacturer in 2000, Russ started teaching manufacturing management and technology courses as adjunct faculty for the University of Phoenix. In 2006, through his association as an advisor to Intel, Russ was able to obtain 10 laptop computers for the SHS Science Department. During this same period he entered local politics in Arizona where he became mayor of the small community in which he lived.
Says a fellow alumnus, “In addition to his academic and athletic achievements, Russ was a good neighbor and friend, trustworthy and reliable and quick with a warm smile.”
Russ takes great pride in the success of his daughters, Stacy Adams SHS ’84 and Jodie Hopkins SHS ’86. His most rewarding achievement has been aiding the growth of his high school, college, community and the youth that he taught. He continues to view education as the cornerstone for growth and success of both people and organizations.
Russ feels more honored than he deserves at being voted for induction into the Shelby High School Hall of Distinction and is thankful for the education Shelby teachers and schools provided him. He lives in Sun Lakes, Arizona.
Nominator: Mike Johnson ’63, Presenter & Standing in: Jodie Pfahler Hopkins ’86