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Published: Monday, 1/9/2006

Springfield Twp. clerk oversaw building boom

Leo H. Bettinger, a former Springfield Township clerk during a period in which the township experienced significant residential growth, died Thursday of dementia at Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrrysburg Township. He was 87.

Mr. Bettinger served in the elected position from 1954 through 1978. He was appointed to the post, then ran in the clerk's race two years later. He was elected six times.

In the mid-1970s, he also served as zoning inspector, cemetery sexton, and building coordinator.

"He was a pretty sharp clerk," said Burdell Moose, a former Springfield Township trustee. "He was a bookkeeper. That was his trade."

Township clerks keep records of the township government's financial accounts and maintain minutes of township trustee meetings.

Springfield Township began to grow several decades ago with the arrival of sanitary sewers and the opening of the Jerome Road wastewater treatment plant. With the growth came the need for improved roads, better snow removal, and other township services.

As clerk, Mr. Bettinger had to oversee bidding and spending for various projects.

His wife, Levora, recalled her husband's decisive thinking when a state auditor pressed him about a kitchen installed as part of the township's new maintenance building.

"I thought he was going to jail," she joked.

The tiny room was intended to be a place for making coffee and eating meals, but the auditor thought it as somehow not appropriate and that Mr. Bettinger shouldn't have allowed it.

"So he cut a door in the wall of the kitchen and made the room into a garage," she said. That brought an end to the standoff.

"He was very proud of Springfield Township," Mrs. Bettinger said. "He was proud of what he accomplished."

Born in Toledo, Mr. Bettinger graduated from Swanton High School in the 1930s, and for a brief time lived in southern Indiana, traveling to Kentucky to do bookkeeping at his father's coal mine.

He returned to the Springfield Township area and later was a salesman for the former Toledo Plaster & Supply Co. and the former National Cement Products Co., leaving National Cement about 1970. Mr. Bettinger also was a bookkeeper for the former Bellevue Trucking Co.

In his spare time, he enjoyed gardening, tilling the soil at his home to grow sweet corn, onions, and tomatoes.

After retiring, Mr. Bettinger and his wife moved to Fort Myers Beach, Fla. There, he enjoyed fishing in the shallow gulf waters with his wife, catching sail catfish, whiting, and sea trout. The couple returned to Springfield Township several years ago.

Surviving are his wife, Levora; sons, Michael, Steven, and David; brother, Thomas; three grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. today at Providence Lutheran Church, 8131 Airport Highway, Holland. Arrangements by Neville Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Providence Lutheran Church, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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