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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

Farm-tool firm s owner founded nursing homes

KALIDA, Ohio - Richard A. Unverferth, 80, founder in 1948 of a farm equipment manufacturer and a leader in community groups, died Tuesday in St. Rita s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, of pneumonia.

Mr. Unverferth was chairman of Unverferth Manufacturing, Co. He was a founder and chairman of HCF, Inc., originally Health Care Facilities, which has nursing homes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

He grew up on a farm in Putnam County s Union Township and was a graduate of Kalida High School.

He was in the Navy during World War II and served on submarines in the Pacific until 1948. Back in Putnam County, Mr. Unverferth and his father started to make small farm tools in their chicken coop.

The enterprise became a manufacturer of dual and triple wheel systems and of tillage and grain handling equipment, employing more than 500. He was recognized in 1994 as entrepreneur of the year in west central Ohio.

“He wanted to help the community as much as he possibly could, and he wanted to provide employment as much as he could,” his son said.

He was one of several investors in 1968 that founded HCF.

“He realized a need for long-term care in small communities,” his son said. “Dad said, This is why I built the manufacturing [company] to be in small communities because of the quality of the people. ”

Mr. Unverferth was on the boards of Health Care REIT, Inc., and of Bank One. He was a member of the development council at St. Rita s Medical Center and was a co-chairman of the Putnam County YMCA capital campaign.

“He believed in the communities that we were in,” his son said.

Surviving are his wife, Gladys, whom he married July 7, 1951; sons, Steve, Joe, Jim, Mark, Larry, Dave, Chad, and Jeff; brother, Virgil; sisters, Mary Edith Winkle, Julitta Selhorst, Irma Kahle, and Ruth Ann Horstman; 24 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Love Mortuary, Ottawa, Ohio, after 6 tonight, with Ottawa Eagles services at 7:30 tonight, Scripture services at 3 p.m. tomorrow, and Ottawa VFW services at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Michael Church, Kalida, of which he had been chairman of the finance committee.

The family suggests tributes to the donor s favorite charity.

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