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John B. Shock Jr.

John B. Shock Jr. was a deputy superintendent for Baltimore County public schools.
John B. Shock Jr. was a deputy superintendent for Baltimore County public schools. (Baltimore Sun)

John B. Shock Jr., who as a deputy superintendent for Baltimore County public schools implemented the system's zero-tolerance alcohol and drug policy for students in the 1970s, died May 14 of complications from dementia at Brightview Assisted Living in Towson.

He was 94.

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"John was my first deputy superintendent when I became superintendent in 1976, and he brought more than three decades of experience to the job and a very strong work ethic," said Robert Y. Dubel, who headed Baltimore County public schools before retiring in 1992.

"He was a square shooter, very level-headed and well respected," said Dr. Dubel. "I was very, very sorry to see him retire."

Nancy S. Grasmick, former state superintendent of schools, considered Mr. Shock a mentor. "Here I was, this young person working in administration at the central office. He really mentored me in a kind and artful way, and I never felt intimidated by him," she said.

"We all admired him because he had been a successful administrator, and we took his advice very seriously. He meant so much to so many of us," said Dr. Grasmick. "He was one of a kind, and relationships meant a great to him. He had an incredible life and leaves a great legacy."

The son of John B. Shock Sr., a cooper, and Luella Eyre Shock, cafeteria manager at Towsontowne Junior High School, John Barclay Shock Jr. was born and raised in Lutherville.

A Towson High School graduate, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1941 from what is now Towson University.

While at Towson, Mr. Shock was an outstanding soccer and basketball player and years later was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

He began his teaching career at Stoneleigh Elementary School and later joined the faculty of Kenwood Senior High School, where he met his future wife, Helen Jane Parangosky, who taught shorthand and typing at the school. They married in 1947.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he was trained as a pilot and flew B-24 Liberators. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant.

Mr. Shock earned a master's degree from Columbia University in 1947 and was named vice principal in 1949 of Stemmers Run Junior High School, a position he held for a year until being appointed principal of Fifth District Elementary School in Upperco.

From 1952 to 1954, he was principal of Stemmers Run Elementary School and then was named principal of Dundalk Senior High School.

In 1960, he took over as principal at Kenwood Senior High School, a position he held until 1965, when he was named director of the district's northeast area.

"John had been my algebra teacher at Kenwood High School, and years later he supervised me as area superintendent. He was my boss," said Anthony G. Marchione, former superintendent of Baltimore County public schools.

"John had great people skills and students loved him, and he was a very popular leader in the administration. He worked well with everyone," he said.

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Mr. Shock was assistant superintendent of administration from 1968 to 1971, when he was promoted to associate superintendent. From 1976 until retiring in 1979, he was deputy superintendent and top aide to Dr. Dubel.

"John was best known for implementing our alcohol and drug program in 1976, which included education, counseling and detection," recalled Dr. Dubel. "It was a very strong policy and included expelling kids who sold drugs. They were withdrawn from school and put in an evening high school."

Baltimore County police cadets posed as students and were used to identify students who were later arrested for selling drugs on and around school property.

"I had no problem that we were using undercover cadets, plus we had a close relationship with the Police Department and Chief [Cornelius J.] Behan," said Dr. Dubel, who said that during the first year of the program, 51 students were arrested. "Thereafter, the numbers declined."

Mr. Shock also oversaw a program whose aim was protecting teachers from violence.

"It was a very strong program, and he would not tolerate violence toward teachers. He was very strong when it came to protecting teachers," he said.

"John was a very decent human being and had a lot of sympathy for those kids who were in trouble. It was tough love, and he believed in second chances," said Dr. Dubel. "He was very much about [them] getting their diplomas, and if a kid had been clean for a year, he could re-enroll in regular school and its programs."

"John definitely had the iron hand in the velvet glove, and he also had very high standards and compassion for these students," said Dr. Grasmick. "As author of the policy on alcohol and drugs, he believed that our schools have to be a safe environment for learning."

Mr. Shock lived for 50 years in Loch Raven Village before moving to Baldwin, where his daughter lived, in 2005. For the last three years, he had been a resident at Brightview. His wife died in 2009.

Mr. Shock was an accomplished photographer who enjoyed taking portraits, which he developed in a basement darkroom.

He also enjoyed sailing aboard his 27-foot Sau-Si-Su, said his daughter, Susan D. Johnson of Baldwin.

"John was a great sailor, and we had many top staff meetings on his boat, which he kept in Middle River," recalled Dr. Dubel.

"Whenever John needed a crew person, I was that crew person," Dr. Marchione said with a laugh.

Mr. Shock was a longtime member of Loch Raven United Methodist Church, 6622 Loch Raven Blvd.. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 5 in the chapel of the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Shock is survived by a sister, Evelyn Elgert of Timonium..

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