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Published: Wednesday, 1/31/2001

Dairy farmer was manager at army depot

OAK HARBOR - Ernest C. Stone, 83, of Ottawa County's Salem Township, a former dairy farmer and retiree from the former Erie Army Depot, died Sunday in Riverview Nursing Home here.

Mr. Stone died of heart failure, his daughter, Bev Schiets, said. He was a resident of the nursing home for two months, and had been in declining health for about six months.

Born in Bannister, Mich., Mr. Stone attended Ross High School, Fremont, and began working at the former Army depot in 1940. He retired from the depot as a manager in 1965.

Mr. Stone began farming after he started at the depot. With help from his sons, Richard and Gary, he built the 500-acre Stone Dairy Farm, about four miles south of Oak Harbor. Today, the farm milks about 200 cows daily and has about 200 head of young cows used to replace the older animals, his son, Gary, said.

About 450 acres of the farm are used to grow alfalfa. Mr. Stone, who retired from farming in 1998, always looked forward to cutting and bailing the alfalfa to keep his farming operation as independent as possible, his son said. "That was what he most enjoyed: to go and make hay," the younger Mr. Stone said. "You couldn't hold him back."

Mr. Stone served many years on the council of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Salem Township, and was a member of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau.

"He worked his way into management at the Army depot, and he brought that home to us. He loved to manage," his son said. "He had managemental ability. He liked to point which way to go, and tell you how to do things, but he never raised his voice. He was respected for that, and respected for his strong family values."

Surviving are his wife of 61 years, Ethel; sons, Richard and Gary; daughters, Bev Schiets and Norma Nehls; 11 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in St. Paul Lutheran Church. Arrangements are by the Crosser Funeral Home, Oak Harbor. The family requests tributes to the church.

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