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Published: 1/24/2004

O-I official formed anti-drug effort

Elbert L. “Bert” Herron, a retired Owens-Illinois advertising executive who organized a local anti-drug campaign during the late 1960s and was president of the Ottawa Hills school board for five years, died Monday in St. Luke s Hospital. He was 89.

Mr. Herron died of heart failure after a brief illness, his son Paul Herron said.

Mr. Herron s 38-year career at O-I started in 1937 in the personnel department, where he was plant publications coordinator. He rose through the company s marketing and advertising ranks to become corporate director of advertising in 1953, a post he held for 16 years.

During that time, his son said, Mr. Herron was particularly involved with ad campaigns for O-I s glass container division that promoted the use of bottles.

“I was 14 years old before I knew beer came in cans,” the younger Mr. Herron said.

Two years of Mr. Herron s career were devoted to the production of a 43-minute, full-color and sound film, This is Owens-Illinois, which the firm showed to its employees and customers. Mr. Herron traveled to O-I plants across the country and overseas during the project.

In 1969, Mr. Herron was promoted to director of major projects, and two years later he became director of corporate contributions.

Upon his retirement in April, 1975, he became manager of the bureau of business research in the Ohio Department of Economics and Community Development under Gov. James Rhodes.

His working days concluded in 1977 after five years as the director of the Center for Business Enterprise at Urbana College in southwest Ohio, where he wrote a series of nine papers explaining the basic principles of the free-enterprise system. The papers intended readership was high school and undergraduate college students.

But Mr. Herron s “proudest achievement,” his son said, was his organization and leadership of the Toledo Area Program on Drug Abuse, whose work included the funding and creation of a drop-in center for teenagers with drug problems. He was also a local delegate, in 1970, to the decennial White House Conference on Children.

Paul Herron said his father s life was “molded by his small-town upbringing” in downstate Shelbyville, Ill., where his family s finances were ruined by the Great Depression.

He attended the University of Illinois on full scholarship, where he majored in journalism and edited the Daily Illini student newspaper.

After graduation, he was a journalism department instructor for one semester at his alma mater before going to work for O-I in Toledo.

In 1958, Mr. Herron was appointed to a vacant seat on the Ottawa Hills Board of Education. He successfully ran for election two years later, and in 1962 the board elected him president, a post he held until 1967.

Mr. Herron was an elder at Christ Presbyterian Church in West Toledo. He enjoyed gardening in his spare time and raised vegetables in his younger years while concentrating on flowers later on.

“He liked gardening because he reported to no one,” his son said.

Mr. Herron s wife of 53 years, Irene Herron, died in 2000.

Surviving are his sons, Dave and Paul Herron; daughters, Peggy Brown and Janet Lopez; 10 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Visitation starts at noon today in the Walker Funeral Home, 5155 West Sylvania Ave., followed at 3 p.m. by a memorial service in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Zoo or the Christ Presbyterian Church Haitian Mission Fund.



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