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Published: Saturday, 4/17/2004

Electrician taught, ran Fremont carryout with wife

GIBSONBURG, Ohio - Ronald J. "Butch" Bleckinger, a longtime worker at Peter Eckrich Co. who became an electrical trades instructor at Vanguard Career Center and with his wife, Marlene, owned a carryout, died of cancer Wednesday in his home in Sandusky County. He was 59.

Mr. Bleckinger taught juniors and seniors at the Fremont vocational high school for 15 years. He was unable to work after Christmas break, when he became ill.

He taught students residential and industrial electricity. Each year, the school builds a house, and "his group would wire it totally," his daughter Tammy Bennett said. "He enjoyed the kids. He enjoyed helping people.

"He was just so easy to talk to," his daughter said. "He would listen to you and give you his opinions. He was somebody you instantly respected."

Much of his experience was gained in his previous job of two decades - making sure the equipment at the former Peter Eckrich Co. plant in Fremont was in good working order. When the plant closed in the late 1980s, he attended the University of Toledo and he taught adult education for a time.

He and his wife owned Don's Carry Out - they kept the former owner's name - for 15 years until about four years ago. Even with teaching and other responsibilities, he worked in the store, running the register, managing the books, slicing meat at the deli.

"He always had to be busy. He was somebody who couldn't sit down," his daughter said.

Mr. Bleckinger grew up in Fremont and was a graduate of Ross High School. He was in the Army from 1962 to 1966. The last year of his service was a tour of duty in Vietnam.

He was a Mason of the York and Scottish Rites and a member of the Zenobia Shrine, Toledo. He was a member of Brainard Lodge, F&AM.

He was a member of VFW Post 2947, Fremont, and the Kentucky Colonels Association.

His three daughters were Camp Fire members as children, and he helped out. He was one of the first male group leaders of the formerly all-girls group when he became a board member of the Buckeye Council of Camp Fire.

Work was his leisure, and in his free time he landscaped his property with rock walls and trees, daughter Tammy said.

Surviving are his wife, Marlene, whom he married Sept. 19, 1966; daughters, Tina Gallagher, Tammy Bennett, and Tracy Ewing; half-brother, William Hergesheimer; seven grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. today in the Wonderly-Horvath Mortuary, Fremont.

The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice

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