Roger D. Stillings, a Champaign County native who at the age of 22 became the youngest sheriff ever elected in Ohio, will recount his experiences in dealing with the the March 9, 1967, collision of a TWA airliner and a Beech-craft airplane. Both planes were heading to Vandalia when they collided over Concord Township, resulting in the death of 26 passengers. The event drew a huge crowd of gawking spectators that had to be controlled by law enforcement. The Daily Citizen became a temporary news center for national news networks.
Details of the massive recovery and identification of the victims will be related by Stillings in a program at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, in the meeting room of the Champaign County Historical Society and Museum, 809 East Lawn Ave. The program is free and open to the public.
Stillings graduated from Salem Local High School in 1960 and was the starting center on Salem’s Class A State Championship basketball team. On Sept. 1, 1963, longtime Sheriff Jay H. McKeever appointed him as a deputy sheriff. He served as a deputy until elected sheriff in November 1964 upon McKeever’s retirement. He was sheriff six consecutive terms and retired in 1988.
He went on to teach law enforcement to high school juniors for five years at the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School in Piqua. He and his wife, the former Judy Anderson, have been married over 53 years and have two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Stillings is a member and trustee of the Urbana Free Will Baptist Church and a member of the Champaign County CERT. He works part time at the Walter and Stowe Funeral Home in Urbana.