Dr. Robert E. Stearns, Jr., who practiced dentistry in Rossford for more than 30 years, died yesterday in his Rossford home.
Dr. Stearns, 66, had Waldenstrom's disease, a disorder in which the bone marrow produces too many blood cells, and amyloidosis of the nervous system, in which an excessive amount of protein builds up in tissues.
A Toledo native, Dr. Stearns excelled in both academics and sports at Central Catholic High School, and received an athletic scholarship in baseball to Ohio State University.
Scott Stearns, his eldest son, said his father was inspired to pursue a health career by a close friend, Dick Veler.
"He thought about medical school, but he knew his family life would be better with dentistry - no emergency calls in the middle of the night," the son said.
"Church and family were a high priority," said Nancy Stearns, his wife of 44 years, whom he met during his college freshman year.
Mrs. Stearns noted her husband's devotion to his mother, whom he assisted in running his childhood household after his father's death when he was 14 and whom he employed as a secretary and receptionist at his dental practice. Ruth E. Stearns still works in the office three days a week at age 88, three years after her son's illness prompted his retirement.
Dr. Stearns began his dental studies even before completing his undergraduate degree work, and graduated from OSU's dental school in 1964. After two years in dentistry at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Ill., he and Nancy settled in Toledo.
Dr. Stearns was a lector and eucharistic minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish and was appointed an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion by the Catholic Diocese of Toledo. He also was involved in youth ministry.
He was a director of Mid Am Bank for many years, and retained that position when it became Sky Bank.
Surviving are his wife, Nancy; sons, Scott A., Steven E., Timothy S., Kevin T., and Rodney J. Stearns; mother, Ruth E. Stearns; sisters, Joanne Cassavar and Linda Pezzin, and 13 grandchildren.
The body will be in the Sujkowski Funeral Home, Rossford, where the family will receive visitors after 5 p.m. tomorrow, with a Scripture service at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday in the church.
The family suggests tributes to the church, Central Catholic High School, or Catholic Charismatic Renewal.