TONTOGANY - Earl R. Whitmer, who repaired local farmers' implements in his local blacksmith shop for 40 years and was a village councilman for 22 years, died Monday in the Blakely Care Center, Bowling Green, at age 90.
Mr. Whitmer died of Alzheimer's disease, said Merry C. Pomeroy, a daughter. He had moved into the nursing home, from Bowling Green three years ago.
A native of Waterville, Mr. Whitmer moved to Tontogany after marrying Agnes Christy in 1939 and established his blacksmithing business in a shop at the back of a Christy family residence formerly operated by his grandfather-in-law. He soon bought a larger building on Broad Street in the village, from which he plied his trade until 1976, his daughter said.
While shoeing horses was mainly a thing of the past when Mr. Whitmer became a blacksmith, Mrs. Pomeroy said, he did brisk business maintaining and repairing area farmers' metal tools and equipment with his anvil and forge.
"When we went to the Wood County Fair, Mother would tell him, 'Every farmer in Wood County knows you,'●" the daughter said.
While he sold his main shop at age 62, Mr. Whitmer continued working in semi-retirement for another 13 years. He did odd jobs in the smaller shop in his home and, with a business partner, built overdrive gear assemblies for antique Franklin automobiles that allowed those vehicles to go faster without straining their engines.
Besides his work, Mrs. Pomeroy said, Mr. Whitmer was dedicated to his church, his community, and his family. He volunteered with the Washington Township Fire Department, for which he was assistant chief during the 1960s and 1970s, and was on the Tontogany village council from the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s, she said. He later served several terms as a Washington Township trustee.
His village council tenure included a leadership role in bringing public water service to Tonotogany. And in 1975, he was on the steering committee for the village's centennial celebration.
At Tontogany Presbyterian Church, he was an elder, trustee, and Sunday school superintendent.
Mr. Whitmer was well known for generosity and humility, his daughter said.
"He was so humble about things," it was difficult to determine what he considered to have been his proudest accomplishments, Mrs. Pomeroy said. As the memory-eroding Alzheimer's disease advanced, however, he often remarked on the number of plowshares he'd sharpened in his life, she said.
Agnes Whitmer died in 1988, and Mr. Whitmer remarried the following year, with Thelma Hardy. The couple moved to Marion, Ohio, that year but moved back to Wood County in 1994.
Ms. Hardy survives, as do sons Ned and Brian Whitmer; daughter, Merry Pomeroy; sister, Mildred Weaver; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
The body will be in the Peinert Funeral Home, Tontogany, where the family will receive visitors from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Tontogany Presbyterian Church. The family suggests memorial tributes to the church or the Alzheimer's Association.
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