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Published: Friday, 2/23/2007

Monroe County's oldest was ex-supervisor

MONROE - John Brandes, a former supervisor for Wayne County's Huron Township and a former farmer there who was believed to be the oldest resident in Monroe County, died in his sleep Saturday in the Lutheran Home here. He was 109.

His health declined over the last six months, but he remained mentally alert. The cause of death was not reported.

"Hard work, clean living, and good food was his reality," Gene Swatek, a longtime friend, said. "He took pride in his hard work. He was a strong believer in God. And he thanked God every day for his health and what he had."

Mr. Brandes was a township supervisor for six years in the 1960s.

As the supervisor, he led the township out of debt and got it access to Detroit city water, Mr. Swatek said.

Brandes Road in Huron Township was named in his honor.

Mr. Brandes retired from farming in 1959 after a half-century of growing corn and soybeans and raising cattle at a family farm at Willow Road and Clark Road in Huron Township.

He sold the farm, but kept a couple of acres where he built one of the first all-electric homes later in 1959. He also kept his hand-crank starting tractor, which he drove until he was 103. He drove his car until he was 102, Mr. Swatek said.

A native of Waltz, Mich., Mr. Brandes grew up helping out at the family farm. He attended St. John Lutheran School in Waltz.

Mr. Brandes was married four times. His first wife, Nellie Ernst, died in 1924. The others were Cora Hicks, the mother of his daughters, who died in 1956; Mabel Murphy, who died in 1975, and Ivedell Eckholtz, who died in 1999.

He was a lifelong member of St. John Lutheran Church, Waltz, where he was a past elder.

Surviving are his daughters, Janet Voorheis and Marlene Klingensmith; five grandchildren; several stepchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, and several stepgrandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in St. John Lutheran Church, Waltz, where the body will be after 10 a.m. today. Arrangements are by the Arthur Bobcean Funeral Home, Carleton, Mich.

The family suggests tributes to the church.



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