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Published: Wednesday, 7/10/2002

Attorney built solid record of service

FINDLAY - William A. Sackmann, 83, a longtime international corporate attorney for Marathon Oil Co. and a leader in civic and charitable projects who, in retirement, was a Hancock County commissioner, an acting municipal judge, and a Findlay city councilman, died Sunday in The Heritage.

He had Parkinson's disease the last 15 years and was in declining health after suffering strokes in May, said his daughter, Deborah Redick.

Mr. Sackmann, a committed Republican, retired from Marathon in 1983 and decided to resume the brief political career he'd had as a young lawyer in Colorado.

He was elected twice to four-year terms as a county commissioner.

“He was an innovative individual,” said Bill Recker, who like Mr. Sackmann was elected to his first term as a commissioner in 1985. “The man was probably the best contract attorney. The county deals with a lot of contracts and agreements, and Bill was our expert.”

Deliberations could get spirited, said Mr. Recker, who served for 12 years.

“He could get feisty as all get-out. The attorney came out in him,” he said. “But once the discussions were over, he never held a grudge. We could always walk down to the local restaurant and have lunch.”

Political expedience was not on Mr. Sackmann's mind when he had to make tough decisions - whether to vote for spending county money on a new jail and on a new human services building.

“He made a decision about what was best for the community,” Mr. Recker said.

Mr. Sackmann later served a single two-year term on Findlay city council and was an acting judge of Findlay Municipal Court.

Born in Denver, he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado - after Army service during World War II. He received a law degree from the University of Denver. He formerly was an assistant attorney general of Colorado.

He was hired by Marathon in the early 1950s and worked in Casper, Wyo. He moved to Findlay in 1955 to work in the firm's international corporate law section.

He was assigned to Geneva from 1961 to 1968 and often traveled across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. He returned to Marathon in Findlay afterward.

He had a long record of community service. Mr. Sackmann received the Rotary Club's Service Above Self Award in 1987. He was a past president of Kiwanis and Associated Charities and received the 1994 Outstanding Kiwanian Award.

He was most proud of his role as a co-founder and a past president of the local hospice, now known as Bridge Home Health and Hospice.

“He felt there was a great need and worked many, many hours developing that program. It has helped many people,” daughter Judith Cole said, noting that he received hospice care at the end of his life.

He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Findlay, and of the local executive board of the Boy Scouts of America and Wapahani Girl Scout Council. He received the Boy Scouts' Silver Beaver and St. Andrew's awards.

He was willing “to take on many challenges,” daughter Judith said. “If somebody asked him to do something, he hardly ever hesitated, except if it meant giving up some family time.

“He was more than willing to donate his expertise.”

Surviving are his wife, Suzanne, whom he married July 4, 1945; son, John C. Sackmann; daughters, Judith S. Cole, Carol C. Sackmann, and Deborah Redick; 10 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Routson Mortuary, Findlay.

The family requests tributes to Bridge Home Health and Hospice, Findlay; Hancock County Agency on Aging, Findlay; Findlay Boy Scouts of America, or Ohio Parkinson's Foundation, northwest region, Fostoria.



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