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Published: Thursday, 10/19/2006

Equipment dealer loved being at work

BOWLING GREEN - Richard N. Van Vorhis, owner of the Wood County Farm Equipment Co. John Deere dealership near Bowling Green, died Tuesday in Toledo Hospital after suffering an aneurysm the previous week.

Mr. Van Vorhis, 78, who lived in Bowling Green for about 50 years, worked until the Saturday before he was stricken. His last customer was a grandson of the man who bought the first agricultural harvester he sold after acquiring the dealership in 1963, his son Doug Van Vorhis said.

The parts that Mr. Van Vorhis sold that young man this month likely cost about as much as a whole implement 44 years ago.

When Mr. Van Vorhis started, new harvesters sold for about $5,000. Today, they're about $225,000.

Although two of his four sons are involved in the business, which typically has had 8 to 10 employees, Mr. Van Vorhis continued to work.

"My dad loved to work," Doug Van Vorhis said.

And Mr. Van Vorhis held true, his son said, to the motto that the owner should never be "too good to sweep the floor."

Mr. Van Vorhis grew up on a farm north of Bowling Green, the second of four children born to Jim and Belva Van Vorhis.

He graduated from Webster High School in 1946 and took a job with International Harvester in Toledo.

He served in the Army in Korea from 1950 to 1952 and seldom slept under a roof during that time.

He returned to International Harvester as a salesman for the Wood County territory from 1952 until he bought the John Deere dealership in 1963.

Surviving are his wife, June; sons, David, Doug, Dean, and Dan; brother, Roger; sister, Mary Lou Keys, and seven grandchildren.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home & Crematory, Bowling Green, where visitation will be after 3 p.m. today.

The family suggests tributes to the Wood County Historical Society, Wood County 4-H, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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