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Published: Monday, 3/19/2007

Veteran Ottawa Scout leader was avid carver

OTTAWA, Ohio - William H. Gulker, 75, of Ottawa, a retired businessman who was active in the Boy Scouts for more than 60 years, died Saturday in St. Rita's Mercy Medical Center, Lima, Ohio.

Born on Feb. 10, 1932, Mr. Gulker was the former owner and operator of Gulker's Paint Center and Fox Fire Lake Campgrounds in Ottawa,

For many years, he was a Scout master and an assistant Scout master for Ottawa Troop 224, and he collected Boy Scout memorabilia. He was a camp director and held other staff positions at Camp Berry in Findlay.

He was an Eagle Scout, the oldest of three generations who attained the ranking. His son James of Ottawa and grandson Christopher Verhoff of Findlay were both Eagle Scouts, and they are now police officers, his wife Marilyn said. Her husband was in the military police in the Air Force from 1951 to 1954.

Mr. Gulker earned many top honors with the Boy Scouts, including the Putnam County District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver Medal from Put-Han-Sen Area Council.

"He was a legend here, and he was bigger than life. He did not have a cross word for everybody," said his daughter Julie Siefker. "He liked to work with young men and he encouraged them to become Eagle Scouts. He was a role model for boys as well as adults."

His motto was "if it is not good for the boys, it's not good for scouting," Mrs. Gulker said.

Mr. Gulker was co-chairman of a committee that raised about $180,000 to build a scout house for Ottawa Troop 224 in 2001. Mr. Gulkers' goal, relatives said, was to insure the future of the scouting program.

Mr. Gulker was an avid wood carver. "He started whittling when he was in the Boy Scouts," his wife said, and when he was in his 40s, he began to attend wood carvers' meetings. She encouraged him to buy better tools and to develop his skills. He was a member of the National Wood Carvers Association and the Putnam Area Wood Carvers.

Mr. Gulker carved ducks, loons, and other birds, and he recently began work on a 4-foot tall Santa Claus. A registered Scout for about 63 years, he carved 400 to 500 Boy Scout neckerchief slides as well.

After he retired, he was a member of Henry's Restaurant Coffee Club. He and his friends would gather at the restaurant for coffee and conversation. "He rarely missed a day," said his daughter.

Mr. Gulker, who died from a massive stroke, was a tissue donor.

His great-great-great grandfather William Gulker and several other men came to America from Glandorf, Germany, and the group founded Glandorf, a neighboring community to Ottawa in Putnam County, Mrs. Siefker said. Her father's ancestor also was instrumental in the construction of St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in Glandorf.

Surviving are his wife Marilyn; daughters Julie Siefker, Jill Stechschulte, Mary Lynn Warnecke; sons William Gulker II and James; sisters Jeanne Ahman, Judy Weis, and Barbara Niese; 10 grandchildren; 2 step-grandchildren, and 1 great-granddaughter.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Glandorf. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. tomorrow and Wednesday in Love Funeral Home in Ottawa, where the VFW will conduct a service at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The family suggests that any tributes be made to Ottawa Boy Scouts Troop 224; the Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church building fund; 4-H Camp Palmer, or to the Ottawa-Glandorf EMS.



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