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Published: Sunday, 6/15/2003

Farmer helped revive area fair

CASTALIA, Ohio - Wayne G. Bunting, 88, a longtime farmer who was first president in 1953 of the revived county fair in Sandusky, died of heart problems Thursday at his home in Erie County's Groton Township.

Mr. Bunting, until he was 83, farmed 300 acres settled by his grandfather, his daughter Dee Ostheimer said. Mr. Bunting milked a herd of 100 dairy cows until 1975. Afterward, he grew mostly corn and soybeans.

He rented the land to his cousins when he retired, but he rode with them in the fields frequently and talked to them about the day's events.

“You can't take dirt out of the heart of a farmer,” his daughter said.

Mr. Bunting was not a man alone with the land. He was an organizer.

“He was a very outgoing man who loved to talk to people, and he loved farming. And when you got somebody who knew about farming, he just kept on talking,” his daughter said. “You got him talking, you'd better have a whole day.”

He and a group of men reorganized the Erie County Agricultural Fair in 1953, an event that was suspended 20 years earlier when the fairgrounds were sold to the federal government, according to the fair's Web site. He was the president of the new fair for several years.

He was the adviser of a 4-H Club he started in his corner of the county. He was a member of the Erie County Farm Bureau for more than 70 years. He received several awards for being the top farm bureau membership chairman. He and his wife, Myrtle, “went around to people's houses to get them to join the farm bureau, because that was important for the farmers,” their daughter said.

Mr. Bunting was master for many years of the Oxford Grange and was a member of the Pomona Grange in Erie County as well as the state and national Grange.

He formerly was on the board of the Sandusky Milk Producers Association and of the Farmers Production Credit Association in Norwalk, Ohio.

Mr. Bunting was a 1932 graduate of Margaretta High School. He was a member of St. John's United Church of Christ.

He and his wife married May 29, 1938. She died Sept. 26, 2000.

Surviving are his son, Donald Bunting; daughters, Deanna Ostheimer and Janis Castle; 15 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Ransom Mortuary, Castalia, after 4 p.m. today. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. in St. John's United Church of Christ.

The family requests tributes to the church or to Stein Hospice Service, Inc., Sandusky.

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