ARLINGTON, Ohio - Rufus E. Wilson, 92, a local farmer and insurance agent who mounted a fund-raising campaign that brought the Good Samaritan Society nursing home and retirement complex to Arlington, died Monday in the Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center, Findlay.
Mr. Wilson died of pneumonia, said his son, Darwin.
At his farm in Eagle Township, west of this Hancock County village, Mr. Wilson milked Guernsey cows and raised other livestock from 1945 until his retirement from farming in 1985. He continued working in insurance for another 10 years after that, working on behalf of a successor to the Eagle Township Mutual Insurance Co.
The younger Mr. Wilson said that in 1968, his father came to believe that the local community needed a retirement home and health center for its elders. He sought out the Good Samaritan Society, which told him that $50,000 would have to be raised locally to demonstrate community support. Mr. Wilson canvassed the area, walking door to door in Arlington, and raised the money, the son said.
“He really was the idea for the whole thing,” Darwin Wilson said. Arlington's Good Samaritan Center was built during the early 1970s.
A Jenera, Ohio, native, Mr. Wilson graduated from Arlington High School in 1929 and reached adulthood at the onset of the Great Depression. He became manager of Arlington's Neuhauser Hatchery in 1931.
Mr. Wilson was raised with a strong sense of family, history, and religion, his son said, and became a leading historian of the German community in southern Hancock County. “He's been as frugal as any person on the face of the Earth, but also as generous as any person on the face of the Earth,” the younger Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Wilson's great grandfather, Peter Arras, had emigrated to the United States aboard the vessel Famous Dove, which beached off the coast of Virginia's Cape Henry in 1831 after a storm with no loss of life.
Mr. Wilson assembled a large collection of ancestral trees for families in the area, many of whose ancestors also sailed aboard the Famous Dove.
Mr. Wilson was a longtime parishioner at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Van Buren Township, and also helped organize the Hancock County Gideon Society, part of the national organization best known for placing Bibles in hotel rooms. He often spoke at churches throughout the region to raise money for the organization.
Mr. Wilson married Cleva Rettig on Jan. 1, 1934.
Surviving are his wife, Cleva; son, Darwin; daughter, Joyce C. Beach; brothers, Luther A. and Carl F.; five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
The body will be in the Crates Funeral Home, Arlington, where the family will receive visitors between 3 and 8 p.m. today. Visitation will resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Paul Lutheran Church, where funeral services will begin one hour later.
The family suggests tributes to the Gideon Society, Arlington Good Samaritan Society, Good Hope Lutheran Church in Arlington, or St. Paul Lutheran Church.