AYERSVILLE, Ohio - Richard Schlotterbeck, 77, who raised produce and bedding plants that he sold from his Fruit Ridge Market and Schlotterbeck & Son Greenhouses in Defiance County and earlier through Toledo Farmers Market, died yesterday.
He was diagnosed with cancer in late January, his daughter, Jean Jacques, said. He was in good health until this winter and hoped to farm another year, even after he and his wife, Betty, moved in with Mrs. Jacques this winter when he was ill. He died in her Defiance home.
Mr. Schlotterbeck sold produce he raised in the Ayersville area for about 65 years. He was 12 when he started selling watermelons from his parents' front yard.
Throughout the years, almost all the crops he raised were done so with hand labor. At the height of harvest, he often employed six to eight workers.
He worked from sunup to sundown almost every day, and the 65-mile trips from Ayersville to the Toledo Farmers Market began hours before dawn.
"We'd leave about 2 or 2:30 in the morning because you'd have to be all set up, and it was well under way by 5 or 6 a.m.," his daughter recalled.
His sales were split almost evenly between retail and wholesale.
He was the only child of Harvey and Carmen Schlotterbeck, who were farmers. He graduated from Ayersville High School in 1945 and married the former Betty Weaver in 1947.
Mr. Schlotterbeck enjoyed hunting, fishing, and dogs.
"He loved anything to do with nature," his daughter said. "I don't think there's a state park in Ohio or Michigan my dad hasn't been at."
Surviving are his wife, Betty; son, Richard, Jr.; daughters, Jane Meyer, Jean Jacques, and Vickie Healy; eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in Ayersville United Methodist Church, where visitation will be an hour before the service. The Snyder Funeral Home & Crematories, Holgate, Ohio, is handling arrangements.
The family suggests tributes to the church or Hospice the Caring Way of Defiance.