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Published: Sunday, 4/6/2003

Auditor pioneered farm-tax assessments

DESHLER, Ohio - William J. Ahrns, a former Henry County auditor who was a member of many community groups, died of heart failure Friday in Wood County Hospital, Bowling Green. He was 84.

Mr. Ahrns, of Deshler, a Republican, was the Henry County auditor from 1968 to 1984. It was his job to assess real estate for property taxes.

“He loved serving other people, and he really accepted responsibility for the job,” his daughter, Vicki Huber, said. “He was very active.”

Mr. Ahrns felt strongly that not all farms should pay the same taxes. He thought farm taxes should be based on the productivity of the land.

He hired an expert to test soil composition of all the farms in the county and began taxing farms based on the results.

“He was one of the first, if not the first, in the state to do it that way, and now they do it like that all over,” his wife, Margaret, said.

Mr. Ahrns lived most of his life in Deshler. As a student at Deshler High School, he was the first student from Deshler to attend the Buckeye Boys' State leadership program.

He graduated from high school in 1936 and studied accounting at the University of Toledo before serving as a sergeant in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

He worked at the Deshler Post Office from 1947 until 1953, when he became part-owner of the Deshler Lumber Co. The firm built homes and sold home improvement supplies.

Mr. Ahrns was involved in many aspects of the business, from drawing blueprints to selling in the shop.

In 1966, he sold his share of the lumber company and went to work for Allied Appraisal Co. He appraised residential real estate at the company for two years and then became county auditor.

Mr. Ahrns served on the Deshler Board of Public Affairs, was a trustee on the Patrick Henry School District library board, and was treasurer of the State Auditors Association for 11 years.

He also belonged to the Deshler American Legion Post, Sycamore Masonic Lodge, and Deshler Chapter, Eastern Star.

Mr. Ahrns was a Boy Scout leader and helped establish emergency medical services in Deshler.

He attended First United Methodist Church in Deshler, where he taught Sunday school for 25 years.

“On Saturday nights, he would study his Sunday school lessons,” his daughter said. “He took his teaching so seriously.”

Family members said Mr. Ahrns was well-known in the community for his integrity and service to others.

Surviving are his wife, Margaret; son, James; daughters, Vicki Huber, Cathy Ahrns, and Carole Spurgeon; brother, Donald; 13 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in First United Methodist Church. The body will be in the Rodenberger Funeral Home, Deshler, after 2 p.m. today and in the church an hour before tomorrow's services.

The family requests tributes to the Edwin Wood Memorial Library in Deshler.



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