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Published: Monday, 9/1/2003

Woman gave 63 acres for Pemberville retiree facility

PEMBERVILLE, Ohio - Ernestine Hille, 94, a lifelong local resident who donated the land on which Portage Valley Retirement Village was built, died Friday in the nursing home. The cause of death was not known.

The facility was founded in the mid-1970s and opened in 1981 with room for 100 patients. In 1986, it merged with Otterbein Homes, which operated a 750-bed retirement home in Lebanon, Ohio, at the time. It was renamed the Otterbein-Portage Valley Retirement Village.

Ms. Hille donated 63 acres along Pemberville Road just south of State Rt. 582 for the complex, which initially was created as a nonprofit organization. Ms. Hille was on the nursing home's board for several years, said Ruth Walters, a niece-in-law.

“She gave the land on which the whole complex is built because, I think, people talked to her, and she thought it was a very good idea at the time,” Mrs. Walters said.

The facility was built to serve the area within a 15-mile radius of Pemberville.

Ms. Hille was born and raised on a farm along State Rt. 105, just outside Pemberville. She worked on the farm, Mrs. Walters said, for many years until she was no longer able.

Because of her involvement with the nursing facility and other deeds, the Pemberville Lions Club voted Ms. Hille its Citizen of the Year in 1984, Mrs. Walters said.

She was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Pemberville.

The body will be in the Marsh Funeral Home in Pemberville after 2 p.m. today. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the church, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Bethlehem Lutheran Church or Abiding Lutheran Church in Bowling Green.

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