OTTAWA, Ohio - Charlie Edwin Nash, a longtime leader in the Ohio Farmers Union known for his tireless lobbying on behalf of family farmers, died Saturday in Putnam Acres Care Center in Ottawa. He was 72.
Family members said he had been a resident of Putnam Acres for about two weeks and had died from cancer.
Mr. Nash raised Duroc hogs on his 220-acre farm in Putnam County and grew wheat, soybeans, and corn, according to one of his sons, Clark. He got involved in the Farmers Union, an advocacy group, in the late 1950s and became president of Putnam County Farmers Union.
His involvement with the Farmers Union increased in 1969 when he began working on behalf of the National Farmers Union to increase membership in the Ohio Farmers Union, according to Mel Borton, a friend of Mr. Nash's and the former marketing director of the Ohio Farmers Union.
He became executive director of the Ohio Farmers Union in the mid-1970s and became president of the state organization in 1985, a post he held until he resigned in January, according to Mr. Borton. He served as the vice president of the National Farmers Union from 1996 to 2000.
“He worked hours and hours and hours,” said Mel Borton, friend of Mr. Nash's and former marketing director for the Ohio Farmers Union. “From 1970 until the year 2000, he took the organization from a relatively unknown organization to being well known on a statewide basis.”
Family members said he spoke frequently about the importance of the family farm.
“One thing he said all his life is that he fought for the small family farmer,” said one of his daughters, Crystal Nash.
That fight often took him across the state where he'd speak to various groups and lobby state politicians. He was a frequent visitor to Washington, where he'd speak to Congress about the importance of family farming, Mr. Borton said.
“It was not unusual for Charlie to work 70 to 80 hours a week,” he said.
Despite that hard work, Mr. Nash loved to have fun and joke around with his friends.
Mr. Borton said he still remembers the many times that Mr. Nash, a longtime auctioneer, would entertain friends with his rendition of the “Auctioneer's Song.” In addition, Mr. Nash sang at church and other functions.
Mr. Nash worked at the old Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, where he rose to the rank of state district director and worked as a real estate broker.
He was well known in state Democratic circles, had been chairman of the Putnam County Democratic Party for 20 years, and was an executive board member of the Ohio State Central Committee.
Mr. Nash's memberships included the Free and Accepted Masons, in which he attained the 32nd Degree, the Ottawa and Indian Lake Eagles, Indian Lake Moose, and the Ottawa Sons of the American Legion.
He married Jessie Burkholder, and they later divorced.
Surviving are his sons, Clark and Charles Everett Nash; daughters, Cheryl Nash and Crystal Nash; sister, Dorothy Bowers, and nine grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. today and Tuesday at Love Funeral Home in Ottawa. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Love Funeral Home in Leipsic.
The family requests memorials to the Gilboa United Methodist Church window restoration fund.
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