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Published: Tuesday, 1/6/2004

Politician liked playing Santa in Oak Harbor

OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Peter J. Macko, the former mayor of Oak Harbor who was the village Santa Claus for more than 30 years, died of a heart attack Sunday at Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton. He was 71.

Mr. Macko served on village council from 1970 until 1990. During that time he sat on several council committees and helped organize athletic activities for youth.

As mayor from 1990 until 1999, Mr. Macko helped oversee construction of a bridge over the Portage River that honored local veterans.

“He was a very responsible person, and he was very dedicated to his efforts as village councilman and mayor,” Tom Palmer, another former mayor, said.

Mr. Macko dressed up as the village Santa Claus for decades. Local children visited him at a village display, and for several nights before Christmas, he knocked on the doors of Oak Harbor homes and parents slipped him presents to hand to their children.

His lively sense of humor made Mr. Macko well-liked in Oak Harbor, both as Santa and as a politician.

“He liked giving back to others. He thrived on it,” his son, Gary, said. “He was always willing to help out.”

Mr. Macko graduated from Port Clinton High School in 1950 and served in the Army overseas during the Korean conflict.

After returning to northwest Ohio, Mr. Macko worked for U.S. Gypsum in Genoa. He spent about 30 years working for Standards Products Co. in Port Clinton and held part-time jobs at Bassett s IGA and Crosser Funeral Home in Oak Harbor.

He most recently worked part-time doing odd jobs for the civilian marksmanship program at Camp Perry.

Mr. Macko belonged to his local American Legion and VFW Posts and was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

He was a member of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Oak Harbor, where he formerly served on the parish council.

He enjoyed gardening, golf, bowling, attending family dinners, and playing cards with friends.

“He could always make people laugh,” his wife, Darlene, said.

Surviving are his wife, Darlene; sons, Gary and Randy; daughters, Cassy Dornbusch and Amy Macko; brothers, Tom and Emery, and six grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Boniface Catholic Church. The body will be at Crosser Funeral Home, Oak Harbor, after 2 p.m. today and tomorrow. There will be a wake service at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow in the funeral home.

The family suggests tributes to St. Boniface Catholic Church, the memorial fund of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, or the Mid-County Emergency Medical Service.

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