Chaney Elementary sign preserved: the whole story

Tim Sauer, a 40 South News reader, shared a photo of a table he made incorporating the sign for the old Chaney Elementary School in Richmond Heights. His stepdad’s grandfather was William Chaney, who was given the plaque, which had stood outside Chaney School from 1971 to 2002.

Sauer’s stepdad, Randy Seagrist, sent the whole story:

I’m sending this to you in regards to an email my stepson Tim Sauer sent to you. He made a wonderful table incorporating the sign for the former Chaney Elementary School in Richmond Heights, part of the MRH School District. It sat on the site of the present MRH Elementary School at Glades and Princeton.

My grandfather, Orville “Jack” Chaney, began teaching math at MRH Junior High School in 1937, after 12 years of teaching and coaching in Campbell and Cardwell, MO. He became principal of East Richmond Elementary School in 1941 and was principal there for thirty years.

When he retired in 1971, the school was renamed Chaney Elementary School. OJ Chaney went on to found the Department of Education at Missouri Baptist College, where he taught until 1987. All told, my grandfather spent 62 years as an educator! He passed away in 1989.

The East Richmond/Chaney Elementary School building itself went back at least to the nineteen-teens. In 1954 a new building was constructed around the old one. This building had a new (ca 1954) outer west-facing front and an older (ca pre-1920) inner east-facing back. This building stood until 2002 when it was demolished to make way for the new MRH Elementary School, which was dedicated on March 20, 2004.

At that time a plaque reading “Chaney Commons” was installed in the cafeteria. My family and I were present at the ceremony and we were given the bronze plaque which had stood outside Chaney School from 1971 to 2002. This plaque is the one that Tim incorporated into the table.

My grandfather, OJ Chaney and his wife, Gladys Fitzgerald Chaney, lived in Maplewood and Richmond Heights from 1937 until 1988. My grandmother was also a teacher, retiring from the Brentwood School District in 1971. My mother, Patricia Chaney Seagrist, attended MRH schools for grades K through 12, graduating in 1951. She later taught at MRH Junior and Senior High Schools from 1973 to 1993.

I myself lived in Richmond Heights with my mother and grandparents from 1953 until 1960, when my mom remarried and we moved to Brentwood. I attended MRH schools for K through 2nd grade and Brentwood schools for 3rd through 12th, graduating from Brentwood High School in 1971. I recently retired from teaching in the Rockwood School District.

I’m sure this is far more information than you want or need but I wanted to give you as much background as I could. Thank you for your interest.

Randy Seagrist


7 thoughts on “Chaney Elementary sign preserved: the whole story

  1. i went to this school from 68 to 72 k through 3rd grade,,i recently went back to visit to find the school gone and replaced with a new one,,,when did this happen ,,i was so disappointed to find that memory gone but the original playground where the merry go round was is still there,,i have searched online with no answers,,thankyou for any info,,

  2. What a great story about Mr. Chaney! I’m a Lyndover – high school graduate of M-RH. As a student, I worked in the Superintendent’s Office. The first of my 36-year career of teaching 1st grade began at Chaney with stellar teammate Bonnie Paulsmeyer. I met Mr. Chaney, but mostly knew him through positive comments that educators made. I loved Parkway, though missed the intimacy of M-RH– always a impressive district. Mr. Chaney’s long legacy of dedication to education at M-RH and beyond is rare and special. How wonderful to learn that he is still acknowledged at the new school. The table is a beautiful!

    • When I came here in 1971 to teach at M-RH High, I heard many stories about the rich history of the community. I remember Mr. Chaney, then recently retired, and feel that the school with his name was a special place. When I too left for Parkway, I too missed the intimacy of M-RH. It was a perfect place for me to begin my life as a teacher. And at this stage of life, it is deeply rewarding to reconnect with some of my students from long ago–who are now almost in the same stage of life I am!

  3. I am delighted to see the Chaney School sign preserved in this way by the Chaney/Seagrist family. My dad, Paul Grant, designed this sign as my mother, Evelyn Grant was President of the PTA the year Mr. Chaney retired. We all loved Mr. Chaney so much and I am glad to see the school sign is in good hands! Thank you for sharing this information. You made my day!

    • Thank you for your kind comments about my grandfather, OJ Chaney. Thank you also for sharing the information that your father designed the sign. I never knew that. He did a super job! The table that Tim made incorporating the sign sits proudly in our living room and prompts comments from everyone who sees it.

  4. I attended “East” Richmond from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. In my opinion, it was a very special school. Our Principal, Mr. Chaney (who lived down the street from my house on Rupert), was a very special man. Firm, but fair. There were Square Dances for the parents – the only dance in which my Dad would participate. I have only fond memories of my time as a student there. “Patsy”

    • Thank you for your kind comments about my grandfather, OJ Chaney. I agree, he was a special man. I also remember the square dances well, although I was too small to do anything other than stand on the side of the school gym and watch.