This Harford County man says he bleeds gold, and it's easy to see why.
After serving more than 35 years as the director of athletics media relations at Towson University, Peter Schlehr, a lifelong Bel Air resident, is retiring on June 30. Schlehr's affiliation with the college runs deep, he told The Aegis, with it not only being his alma mater but his immediate family's as well.
Schlehr is an alumnus of Bel Air High School, where he played football for the late Al Cesky. He and his two brothers, twin, Mike, and younger brother, Chris, were starters on Mr. Cesky's last team that went undefeated in 1965.
He graduated from Towson in 1971 with a degree in political science and history and worked as the sports editor for The Aegis for two years before moving on to the old The Baltimore News-American.
The News-American, he said, was "grooming [him] for a desk job," something he didn't want. When the position for a sports information director at Towson opened up in 1975, Schlehr took it, he said, adding that the athletic program "made strides," which in turn kept him wedded to the job at his alma mater.
"It continues to make strides," he said. "That's what kept me interested all these years. I never once got up and said, 'Ugh, I [have to] go to work today.'"
The athletic program certainly has come a long way in the past 30 years, but so has the way SIDs do their job. Schlehr recalls starting out with a manual typewriter, Schlehr said, a year before his office got an electric typewriter. How the job of publicizing Tiger athletics and dealing with media relations is done has changed since then and the changing field is part of the reason why he is retiring.
"I've been doing this for 36 years and I want to do something else," he said. "What else? I don't know what it is."
On July 1, the first day of his retirement, Schlehr said he plans on playing golf with his son and grandson.
"That's the only sure thing I know," he said, adding that not knowing was "the exciting thing" about retiring.
Schlehr did say he would miss the people he has been in contact with throughout the years and miss "dealing with them on a regular basis."
During his time at Towson, Schlehr has never missed a football game, a university press release says, and also won the U.S. Interscholastic Lacrosse Association's Doyle Smith Media Award in 1992.Schlehr is also a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America and received a 25-year award in 2001.
His career includes covering those 378 consecutive Tiger football games, more than 300 men's lacrosse games, several tournaments and a brief stint in 2003 and 2004 as the media coordinator for the NCAA Division I, II and III men's lacrosse championships held at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
His work with Towson University isn't over yet, either. Schlehr said he plans to work part-time and write historical pieces.
"I'm going to keep my hand in some stuff here at the university," he said, adding later that his family is "plugged in" to the school and will "bleed gold" if poked.
"It's been a big part of our life and it will continue to be," he said.
Schlehr's wife, Sandy, and their children Kristien Foss and Peter Schlehr, all graduated from Towson University. The three are all teachers in the Harford County Public School System, and Foss was a finalist for Teacher of the Year earlier this year.
Regardless of his connection to Towson University, Schlehr is ready to leave his current post.
"I think everybody know when their time comes to retire," he said, "and now's mine."