SANDUSKY - Joe Nesbitt, a co-founder and at one time, president, of Ford Motor Credit Union in Sandusky, died of leukemia Saturday in Stein Hospice Center. He was 81.
Mr. Nesbitt co-founded the credit union in the late 1950s to help fellow workers at the Ford plant in Sandusky with loans for car and house purchases.
It was an immediate success, breaking the million-dollar deposit mark a few years after its founding, outgrowing a rented room in Sandusky that was its first home, and eventually becoming the Erie Community Federal Credit Union.
Still, it required a lot of old-fashioned leg work by the staff.
"There weren't a lot of personnel, so [Mr. Nesbitt] talked to people, took loan information, and went out and repossessed cars - whatever was needed," daughter Betty J. Nielsen said.
Mr. Nesbitt served more than 20 years as president and on the board, and he never lost touch with the people the credit union was set up to help.
"He always tried to work with people, even if they had bad credit, so that they could get a loan to buy a car or a first house," Ms. Nielsen said.
Mr. Nesbitt was born in Prestonburg, Ky. One of 12 children, he left school in the eighth grade and in 1940 joined the army, misstating his age to gain admittance. He spent five years with the 1848th Service Command Unit as a military policeman in Texas and then in Trinidad.
On leaving the Army in 1945, Mr. Nesbitt worked as a coal miner and shortly thereafter, married Alene Collie. The couple reared two children.
A broken leg ended Mr. Nesbitt's underground career, and he moved the family to Sandusky in search of work. There he found a job with Ford as a tool-and-die specialist and spent the next 20 years with the company.
In his spare time, Mr. Nesbitt liked to support the Polar Bears, the girls basketball team at Margaretta High School in Castalia.
Mr. Nesbitt was a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, VFW, the American Foreign Legion, and the Moose Lodge. He became a master Mason in 1969.
Survivors include his daughter, Betty J. Nielsen; son, Burl; five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Ransom Funeral Home, Castalia, where services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The family suggests tributes to the Margaretta Township Fire Department; Stein Hospice Service, Sandusky; Cancer Services of Erie Co., or the Humane Society of Erie County.