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Published: Monday, 3/21/2005

Ex-Fulton Co. clerk aided others

WAUSEON - Dorothy Whitaker, 93, who was elected to four terms as Fulton County clerk of courts, died of a bowel obstruction Saturday in Fairlawn Haven Nursing home, Archbold.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ms. Whitaker was one of three female elected officials in Fulton County, along with Recorder Lucille Lux and Treasurer Grace Amstutz. A friend, Lois Westhoven, said the women sometimes had to fight for what they needed, like electric typewriters to replace manual ones.

"They were determined to do a good job and to get the things they needed to do a good job," Mrs. Westhoven said.

Ms. Whitaker joined the clerk's office in 1938 and was first elected clerk in 1960. Mrs. Westhoven said the Republican Party had promised the job to someone else, but Ms. Whitaker wanted it.

"She went house to house and asked people to vote for her," Mrs. Westhoven said.

Mrs. Amstutz, first elected treasurer in 1960, said Ms. Whitaker ran her office the way she thought it should be run. "She was a real energetic, loving gal," she said.

Ms. Whitaker did not seek re-election in 1976.

In 1980, Ms. Whitaker was elected to the commission that wrote Wauseon's city charter.

She began volunteering at the county senior center in 1988 and was later hired. Mrs. Westhoven, who was the center's director, said her legal background helped pass levies for the center.

She said Ms. Whitaker was a caring person who worked behind the scenes to help people. She often paid utility bills for people whose electricity or gas was about to be cut off, without telling them.

She retired from the senior center in 1996.

Ms. Whitaker was born in Delta. After graduating from high school, she worked in the county engineer's and auditor's offices.

She volunteered with Meals on Wheels, the Bloodmobile, the county Health Center Auxiliary, American Cancer Society, and Department of Human Services.

In 1987, she was the Wauseon Business and Professional Women's Club Woman of the Year and in 1989 was honored by the Area Offices on Aging.

She was a member of the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.

Surviving are nieces and nephews.

The body will be in First Christian Church tomorrow with family present from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the church. The Edgar-Grisier Funeral Home handled arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

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