Teacher was in Peace Corps, worked on a paddle-wheeler


DEFIANCE - Fred Collier, 89, a retired vocational agriculture teacher, shopkeeper, and first mate on a paddle-wheel boat, died Tuesday in the Brookview Healthcare Center here of complications of Alzheimer's disease.

"He was driven to try different things," his son, Mike, said. "He was very well-read and could converse on just about any subject."

A native of Deshler, Ohio, Mr. Collier graduated from Deshler High School in about 1933 and from Ohio State University in about 1940 with a bachelor's degree in education.

In 1942, he married Helen Blair. She died in 1962.

Mr. Collier taught at Bellefontaine, Napoleon, Liberty Center, and Ridgeville Corners, all in Ohio, at different times from about 1940 until 1962, when vocational agriculture teaching was discontinued by the Ridgeville Board of Education and he lost his job.

Rather than seek another job and risking having to relocate with his family, Mr. Collier later that year opened The Place, a store that sold garden seeds, garden accessories, and equipment, pets such as parakeets, racing pigeons, guinea pigs, and tropical fish, and pet supplies. In addition to store-keeping, Mr. Collier did bookkeeping, appliance repairs, income tax service, soil testing, and commercial cleaning for area businesses at the time.

In 1965, Mr. Collier closed the store and moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he served two years in the Peace Corps, teaching agriculture at a regional high school.

He later taught at Leipsic and Fayette schools until the late 1970s, when he retired from teaching and became the first mate on a paddle-wheel boat in Cincinnati, which he did until retiring in about 1982. Later that year, he married Violet Carnahan.

In retirement, Mr. Collier enjoyed gardening and dancing with his wife, particularly polkas.

Mr. Collier was a member of St. Paul's Methodist Church in Napoleon, the OSU Alumni Association, and the Turkey Foot Trotters dance club in Napoleon.

Surviving are his wife of 22 years, Violet; son, Mike; daughters, Linda Durban and Cindy Gerdeman; sisters, Mary Fraker and Betty Parker; stepson, Jack Carnahan; stepdaughter, Mary Lou Pitney; 16 grandchildren; 37 great-grandchildren, and a great-great-granddaughter .

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in Mast-Mock-Hoffman Funeral Home, Defiance.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Defiance.