McCLURE, Ohio - Esther M. Gerdes, a former reporter for the community newspaper in Delta, Ohio, who for many years volunteered for local political campaigns and community needs, died Friday at St. Luke's Hospital. She was 81.
Mrs. Gerdes suffered congestive heart failure before her death, said her son, Donald Gerdes. The exact cause of death was not known.
She was born near Grand Rapids, Ohio, but spent many years living in Delta, where her son, Mr. Gerdes, is the mayor.
"She is to blame for some of my activity in public life," Mr. Gerdes said of his mother. "It was her sense of pride, community, and volunteering that made me want to get involved and do my civic duty."
Mrs. Gerdes, formerly Esther Wade, married Kenneth Gerdes on Jan. 24, 1943, in Grand Rapids and the couple moved to Delta in the early 1950s.
In Delta, Mrs. Gerdes worked as a reporter for the Delta Atlas, covering school board and village council meetings.
"That was one of the many jobs she did," Mr. Gerdes said. "It's a very small paper and they needed someone to cover the school board and local council meetings, so she basically volunteered to do that."
She also served as Ad Council president; a trustee and secretary of United Methodist Church; past president and secretary of the McClure American Legion Auxiliary; board member for the Henry County Farm Bureau, and as a member of the Fulton County Republican Central Committee.
"She's worked on many different political campaigns for candidates mostly on a county level," Mr. Gerdes said.
Although Mrs. Gerdes was involved in politics, she never considered running for office, her son said. "She was always in the background, doing volunteer work and helping other people."
Mrs. Gerdes and her husband moved to McClure in 1986 and remained there. The couple built a home on a farm that has been in the Gerdes family for more than 100 years.
Surviving are her husband, Kenneth Gerdes; daughters, Patricia Gerdes and Beverly Gerdes; son, Donald Gerdes; sisters, Eileen Rendoff and Mary Alice Helberg; brother, Marvin Wade; four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. today in McClure United Methodist Church. The Rodenberger Funeral Home, McClure, is handling arrangements.
The family suggests tributes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Toledo Hospital neonatal unit, or a charity of the donor's choice.