OTTOVILLE, Ohio - The Rev. Sylvan W. Obergefell, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church here for 16 years, died yesterday in Van Wert County Hospital, Van Wert, Ohio. He was 76.
He had pneumonia and congestive heart failure, the Rev. Tony Borgia, the current pastor of Immaculate Conception, said.
Father Obergefell, pastor here from 1984 to 2000, was dedicated to his calling.
"He preached the gospel consistently, and was a good model for us," said Jose Flores, deacon at Immaculate Conception.
Father Borgia said Father Obergefell visited the sick in hospitals in Lima, Ohio, and Van Wert twice a week. "He had a strong love for the sick people," he said.
Father Obergefell held a spring planting day every year, recruiting parishioners to plant flowers all over the grounds, Mr. Flores said.
Mr. Flores said Father Obergefell never said much about money, but was able to maintain the old church building and add improvements like extra lighting.
"He did a lot of good work here," he said.
Father Obergefell previously was pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mansfield, Ohio, from 1974 to 1984, and of parishes in Marysdale, Ohio, from 1971 to 1974.
He was an associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Toledo, from 1968 to 1971; St. Rose, Perrysburg, from 1958 to 1968, and at St. Mary, Vermilion, Ohio, in 1958.
After retiring, he remained in Ottoville until he moved to VanCrest Assisted Living in Delphos, Ohio.
Father Obergefell was born Feb. 19, 1929, in Sandusky, where he graduated from St. Mary High School.
He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Pontifical College Josephinum, Worthington, Ohio, and was ordained June 10, 1958.
He enjoyed celebrating holidays, inviting parishioners to see the decorations he put up in the rectory. Some of his decorations were religious, and he had many Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies.
"At Christmastime, we decorated the whole place," friend JoAnn Carder said.
At the age of 70, he still rode his bicycle from Ottoville to Delphos to work out, Father Borgia said.
He enjoyed playing cards and traveling, often taking bus trips.
Surviving is his brother, Ralph Obergefell.
The body will be in the Immaculate Conception Church after 4 p.m. Sunday, where services will be at 11 a.m. Monday. The Kolkmeyer-Helmkamp-Orians Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Diocesan Retirement Fund for Priests.