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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Korean War vet was one of area s last cattle farmers

Howard R. Disher, one of Lucas County s last cattle farmers when he retired 20 years ago and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War, died Sunday in St. Luke s Hospital. He was 75.

The Whitehouse resident died of kidney failure, said his wife of 21 years, Delores “Dee” Disher.

Mrs. Disher said her husband raised between 75 and 100 head of beef cattle when they married but left the business in 1983 because he believed he could no longer compete against larger farms elsewhere.

“He had 80 acres. That s nothing compared to these people who have 1,200 acres,” she said.

For another six years, Mr. Disher drove trucks and tractors to assist the farmers to whom he sold his land to grow and harvest potato crops from the tract, Mrs. Disher said.

“He still had the feel for farming - he just didn t want the responsibility,” she said.

In retirement, Mr. Disher also became a transfer driver for the Avis car rental agency at Toledo Express Airport, traveling around the region to move cars to or from the airport if one-way rentals created a shortage or excess. Mrs. Disher said her husband made many friends among the others who did the same task.

Born in Waterville, Mr. Disher quit high school to enlist in the Marines in 1945 and re-enlisted four years later. He reached the rank of staff sergeant and saw action in several major battles of the Korean War before his honorable discharge in 1952.

Mrs. Disher said her husband spoke little of his battlefield experiences but that she had learned “in a roundabout way” that his actions on one occasion saved the lives of 100 fellow soldiers.

“He loved his country, and he loved the Marines,” Mrs. Disher said. He stayed in touch with Marine buddies and attended a large reunion in Washington 15 years ago, she said.

Upon returning to civilian life, Mr. Disher bought his Whitehouse farmland from his father. In his younger years, he also drove buses for Anthony Wayne Schools, was a forklift operator at Campbell Soup in Napoleon, and worked at what is now the Johns Manville plant in Waterville.

Besides raising cattle, Mr. Disher cultivated grains and potatoes on his farm, and annually gave some of the latter to the Cherry Street Mission in Toledo for its soup kitchen.

Mr. Disher was a past president of the board at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Waterville, and was a member of Ohio Farm Bureau, Waterville American Legion, and Whitehouse Elevator Board.

Surviving are his wife, Delores “Dee” Disher; daughters, Deborah Yeager and Cathy Lee White; stepdaughters, Gloria Napierala and Carol Huddleston; stepson, Joseph Bellner; three grandchildren, and an estimated 16 step-grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in Peinert Funeral Home, Whitehouse, where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The family suggests tributes to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township, or Cherry Street Mission.



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