LIMA — The lamp shade in Bill Angel's office tells much of his story. The “John F. Kennedy for President” button was a gift from his dad when he was 13. It is crammed onto the shade among buttons for the likes of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Richard Celeste, the first campaign he worked for in 1982. Today, stickers largely replace those campaign buttons. A Barack Obama one has its place on the shade. So do Angel's credentials from the 1988 Democratic National Convention. A “Go Bucks” button and family pictures complete the mosaic. The 65-year-old OSU-Lima political science professor retires this week, but the lamp shade will follow him. He's spent the last 35 years in the classroom, often times debating with students, while also working “street level” politics for the local Democratic Party. Campus lifeAngel, a native of Ohio, came to OSU-Lima in 1978, following serving in the Army during the Vietnam era and completing his dissertation and teaching at the University of Texas. He did his undergraduate and master's work at Ohio State in Columbus.His first memory of Lima is a movie theater sign promoting the upcoming premier of the movie “Star Wars.” He had seen it six months earlier in Texas.“I thought, boy this place is really, really isolated,” he said, thinking then he would only stay a couple of years. “I really grew to like the place, largely because of the students. They are very earnest and hard working and many of them have come from families that didn't have college in their backgrounds.”The students remind Angel of his father, the son of immigrants with no college background. It took 10 years, but he graduated from OSU, inspiring Angel and his siblings. Angel has served as president of OSU-Lima's faculty assembly, a university senator, and chair of the committee on academic planning. He will continue to teach two classes a semester, likely until the school has funding to hire a full-time political scientist.Angel has seen the student body become more politically active, recalling his surprise to see a John Kerry button come through his door in 2004. It prompted a few George Bush buttons to appear later. Angel first came to a very conservative campus, and watched it become more liberal in the 2000s. Today, he sees a movement back towards the conservative (not as much as the Reagan era) as his students are coming of age during today's economic crisis. Evolving professorStill a staunch Democrat, Angel too has changed.“I let students know I am a Democrat and liberal. But I also let them know that I am not the same guy who came here in 1978,” he said. “I was much more liberal than I am today. As a 31 year old, I was really pretty left, but I evolved and became much more traditional in my approach to political life, social life, family life.”Equality for all is still a must for Angel, and something he will never back down from. Yet, he is a little more willing to listen to the other side today. The lesson came from serving as chairman of the Allen County Democratic Party from 1986 until 1991. Believing the party should have more voices than just labor, he and allies ousted then party leader Charlie Hauenstein.“I learned then that you don't demonize the opposition. You have to be able to work with the opposition and you have to see them as human beings,” he said. “I am obviously more friendly for Obama than Romney, but Romney is a human being and he wants to be president and people support him and want him to be president and they deserve some credit for that activism.”The lesson makes Angel a better teacher, he said, and makes him better at what he most likes to do these day, analyze and talk to the media. He can “play it straight” now.“I could not do that when I was a political hack,” he said. “When you are a political activist and committed to a party, you have to swallow the Kool-Aid. There is no other side.”Party leaderLeading the party was tough, especially dealing with what Angel calls the catch 22 of needing to get people elected to get candidates and needing candidates to get people elected. It became frustrating trying to convince someone to run for office, while knowing they would lose. “No one wants to be a sacrificial lamb,” he said. Angel's biggest success as party leader, he said, was getting African Americans active in the party, and its leadership. The party's Minority Caucus Committee came to be and Beverly McCoy, now chairwoman of the party, joined the board of elections under his watch. “It is a pluralistic party that reflects a lot of what the Democratic Party is in the community at large. And I like that,” he said.First up for Angel's future is finishing a book on race in Ohio in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Three hundred pages already completed, it is about the transformation of the black vote from Republican to Democrat and its effect on the Democratic Party in Ohio. Angel, who lives in St. Marys today, says he has no intention of getting reinvolved with the party. “I like my life now. I write checks, and I attend dinners,” he said. “I like talking to the media, and I can see through a lot of the rigamorale that goes on a lot easier now.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.