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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

Fire auxiliary founder loved to sing, entertain

Janette Young Ensign, 86, who led women's fire auxiliaries in Oregon and who sang in a women's barbershop group for decades, died Thursday in Bay Park Community Hospital.

She developed breathing problems while hospitalized after a fall in late May, her son, Doug, said. She lived in the Wright Harvey House in Northwood for about two years.

Her husband, Ward Ensign, was Oregon fire chief from 1954 until his death in July, 1980. He became a firefighter in what was then Oregon Township shortly after the family moved there in the late 1940s.

She helped found the auxiliary - the group for wives of firefighters - at Station No. 1 and later was president. She was a founder and a former president of the women's fire auxiliary for the entire city.

"She'd always go if [firefighters] had a call, whether it was the middle of the night or what, and [auxiliary members] made sandwiches for the firemen," her daughter said.

She was a charter member of the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firefighters Association.

Mrs. Ensign joined the Toledo area chapter of the Sweet Adelines when it began in 1959 and sang with the group for 40 years. She was an alto in the choir at Christ United Methodist Church. In the barbershop style of four-part harmony, she sang the bass part.

She formerly sat on the Oregon Municipal Court jury commission.

She liked to boat, fish, bake, sew, and garden, and she liked to entertain in her home.

"She was fun to be around," her son said.

"She loved to have people around her house or wherever she was."

She was a 1937 graduate of Holgate, Ohio, High School and attended reunions for decades, always wearing the watch her father gave her for graduation.

Surviving are her son, Douglas Ensign; daughters, Sharon Sprague and Kay Meyer; sisters, Virginia Snyder and Helen Stevens; brother, John Zachrich; nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Hoeflinger-Bolander Funeral Home, Oregon, after 6 tonight. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Christ United Methodist Church, Oregon, where the body will be after 9 a.m. Monday.

The family suggests tributes to the church.

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