E. GILBERT LENTZ.
The popularity of the Marion schools, especially that of the high school, and the general excellence of the work accomplished is due in large measure to the efforts of the superintendent of schools, E. Gilbert Lentz, the son of a mechanic. From his youth Mr. Lentz's ambitions lay along the lines that he has followed. Much of his education was paid for out of his own pocket, and the energy and perseverance and self denial which this necessitated may only be imagined.
E. Gilbert Lentz was born in Williamson county on the 27th of May, 1881. He is the son of Eli Lentz, who settled in the Wolf Creek neigh-. borhood in the ante-bellum days. The latter was born in 1831, near Saratoga, Illinois, where his father had settled when the land was at most an untrodden wilderness. The latter belonged to that sturdy group of people who, along with the Scotch-Irish, formed the backbone of the American Revolution, namely, the Germans who settled the “up” country of North and South Carolina. It was in the former state that the. young German, fresh from the Fatherland, first loeated. His son Eli demonstrated his stalwart ancestry by enlisting in the Union army when General Logan was calling for volunteers to fill the ranks of his Thirty-first Illinois Infantry. He remained in the service until the last bitter scenes of the struggle had been played out. He then returned to Wolf Creek and took up his life as a blacksmith, dying in 1894, in Creal Springs, when his youngest son, Gilbert, was a mere lad. His wife was Lydia Hare, a daughter of John Hare, of Union county, Illinois, and she survived her husband a number of years, dying at the family home in 1908.
Their children were: Sarah, wife of L. L. Gallimore, of Wolf Creek; Amanda, who married S. M. Fowler, of Herrin, Illinois; Isabel, widow of Dr. J. P. Throgmorton; Anna, who became Mrs. John M. Kilbreth; Fannie, who died after her marriage to William Allen; I. N. Lentz, living at Wolf Creek; John, an educator in Yalparaiso, Indiana; William R. is the agent of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, at Kansas City, Missouri; Theodore, practicing law in Missoula, Montana; and E. Gilbert.
E. Gilbert Lentz, having completed the not very extensive curriculum of the schools of Wolf Creek, entered the Creal Springs schools and finished the course there. He then attended the Creal Springs College, but wishing to keep on with his academic work he began teaching school. His first work was in the district schools in the country, which not only meant the most difficult kind of discipline, but also that he had to build the fires and sweep out the room and then perhaps walk three or four miles to the home of the people who “ate” him. It was a stern introduction to life, and he spent all of his wages in perfecting himself in his profession, attending the Valparaiso University, at Valparaiso, for three years. He spent some time in graded work as principal at Monroe Center, Illinois. Then for two years he acted as principal of the Carterville schools. He was steadily successful, and the Creal Springs schools considered themselves fortunate in having him as their principal for three ensuing years. In 1907 he was elected teacher of history and civics in the Marion high school, and was later chosen principal of the same school. In 1910, when it became necessary to select a successor to Professor Asbury, he was unanimously chosen for the superintendency of the city schools.
During his career as a superintendent Professor Lentz has graduated one hundred and eight, who, in the main, have become teachers or are continuing their educational work at higher institutions of learning. He has ever been in sympathy with the educational bodies established for the mutual profit of teachers, and they, realizing his executive abilities, have given him many offices in their associations. He is vice-president of the Williamson County Teachers Association, is a member of the State Teachers Association, also of the School Council, and has the honor of being president of the Southern Illinois Teachers Association.
Miss Lula Gillespie was the maiden name of the wife of Professor Lentz, their marriage taking place in Creal Springs on the 2nd of April, 1903. Mrs. Lentz was one of a large family of Mrs. Mary (Johnson) Gillespie, the family being one of the pioneer group of Southern Illinois. She was educated at Creal Springs and was one of her husband's teachers before their marriage. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Lentz number three: Agnes, born in 1905; Lula Blanch, born in 1908, and Gilbert, Jr., born in 1910.
Professor Lentz's active relation to the religious life of the community is manifest in his work in the First Baptist church of Marion. He is also superintendent of the Sabbath-school and is president of the Y. M. C. A. of Marion. Believing also that the brotherhood of man is to be found not only in the churches but also in the fraternal orders, he is a loyal Mason. He is a Master Mason and a member of the Chapter, being junior warden of the Blue Lodge and Royal Arch Chapter.
Professor Lentz has chosen one of the most poorly paid and unappreciated professions that exist, but he surely finds a reward for all the struggles he has had to pass through, and for the disadvantages which he must endure in the love and respect not only of those who have come directly under his influence, but of those who meet him in a non-professional way. In selecting a man to fill such a position as he holds, where he comes in close contact with young people at their most impressionable
age, the responsibility is great, therefore the people of Marion are to be congratulated in having secured a man of such sterling character and fine principles as Professor Lentz.