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Published: Sunday, 7/24/2005

Marathon executive rose through the ranks

FINDLAY - John M. Luther, 75, a retired Marathon Oil Co. executive whose assignments included stints in Libya and Switzerland, died of lymphoma Wednesday as a hospice patient at Birchaven Retirement Village.

He was a 32-year employee of Marathon, retiring in 1986 as assistant controller.

"He was regarded highly by his co-workers and the company," said Norman Nicholson, a retired Marathon vice president of marketing. "He was intelligent, and he was hard working."

Mr. Luther also was fun-loving and, with those qualities combined, "he was the perfect kind of person," Mr. Nicholson said.

Mr. Luther liked numbers and computers, and his promotions meshed with his interests.

He was hired in 1954 to work in Marathon's refining and marketing accounting department.

"He went up, step by step," his wife, Patricia, said.

He became assistant controller and was transferred to Libya in 1962. Two years later, he - and his family - moved to Geneva, where he was assistant accounting manager and then manager. That job involved frequent trips to Rome.

He came back to Findlay in 1967 and "was one of the first people to work with the big computers," his wife said, when he was named as the manager of computer services for Marathon.

Mr. Luther became manager of the credit division in 1970; personal administration and development manager in 1975, and assistant controller and manager of operations accounting in 1977.

Mr. Luther was treasurer and a trustee of the Marilyn & Gordon Macklin Intergenerational Institute, which brings together senior adults and young children through a daily program at Birchaven Retirement Village.

He was a past president of Symposium, a local study group, and had been treasurer and president of Findlay Country Club.

Mr. Luther was a former campaign chairman for United Way of Hancock County and a former director of the Benton Ridge Telephone Co. He was a former president of Toastmasters groups in Findlay and in Tripoli.

He was a former president of the Findlay Shrine Club and formerly belonged to the Shrine clowns.

He was chairman of the St. Andrew's United Methodist Church foundation.

Mr. Luther grew up on a farm near West Salem, Ill., and was a graduate of West Salem Community High School.

"He had hated the farm. He had allergies and asthma and always knew he was going to leave and do something with his life," his wife said.

He received a bachelor's of business education degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master's of business education degree from Northern Colorado University. He was a staff sergeant in the Army.

Surviving are his wife, Patricia, whom he married Sept. 3, 1955; son, James D. Luther; daughter, Susan M. Pierret; sister, Faye Ridgely, and three grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Kirkpatrick-Behnke Mortuary, Findlay, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Eastern Illinois University Foundation, of which he was vice president; the Mazza Museum in Findlay, or the church.



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