Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Water-plant worker built own steam engine

Scott T. French, who for 15 years was superintendent of Toledo s water filtration plant and devoted much of his free time to steam engines and power generation, died Thursday in his South Toledo home. He was 85.

His wife of 63 years, Lucille, died 22 hours later on Friday, also in their home. She was 84.

We just know that they didn t want to live without each other, said Luana Emline, a daughter, who said her father died of heart disease and her mother of complications from a heart attack she suffered two weeks before.

Mr. French retired from the city s employ in 1977 after suffering a heart attack, his daughter said, though he later took part-time jobs as a stationary engineer at St. Charles Mercy Hospital and Central Catholic High School.

As water-plant superintendent, Mr. French was responsible for the mechanical well-being of the entire water-filtration and purification process, said Diana French, another daughter.

That included inspecting the water intake crib in Lake Erie as well as machines within the treatment plant itself.

They d go down in that intake crib and fish would be trapped in there, including some very nice walleye and perch, Ms. French said. They couldn t keep any of them, though, because that would be illegal fishing.

Mr. French designed several new systems that remain in use at the plant, Ms. French said, most notably a tamper-proof hatch that improved plant security long before terrorism became a concern.

Mr. French volunteered many hours to the Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railroad, which operates the Blue Bird excursion train, and to the Shawnee Princess paddle wheel steamboat at Providence Metropark.

During the 1960s, Mrs. Emline said, he bought a 27-foot steel hull and built his own coal-fired steam engine inside it.

From 1967 until 1972, the Huff n Puff sailed the Maumee River and other nearby waterways until it got to be too much work and he sold it, the daughter said.

Mr. French continued to attend the annual Threshers Reunions every year without fail first in Montpelier, Ohio, then in Wauseon until recent years when his failing health precluded it, Mrs. Emline said.

Born in Cleveland, Mr. French graduated from high school in Boynton Beach, Fla., and entered the Coast Guard, which introduced him to steam propulsion. He reached the rank of chief petty officer, with a rating of machinist s mate, during his five years of active duty that included combat service in the South Pacific.

He met Lucille F. Wenzel, a native Toledoan and 1941 graduate of Libbey High School, on a blind date arranged by his and Miss Wenzel s sisters. They married in 1944.

Mrs. French devoted most of her adult years to maintaining the family home and doing volunteer work with the Medical College of Ohio school of nursing, the Girl Scouts, and the Cub Scouts.

For three years before Mr. French s heart attack, she worked in the printing department at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

She also enjoyed singing and playing the piano and organ, Mrs. Emline said.

She had a beautiful singing voice, the daughter said. She was once asked by the Toledo Symphony to sing with them. But she had such stage fright, she couldn t do it.

After his military discharge, Mr. French worked first for Toledo Laundry, then for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a stationary engineer before being hired by the city in 1951.

He worked as an assistant at the water plant for about 11 years before his promotion to superintendent, Ms. French said.

Mr. and Mrs. French are survived by their daughters, Diana G. French and Luana Emline; son, Kevin S. French; Mr. French s sister, Patricia Kirkham, and Mrs. French s sisters, Joan Thornton and Mary Alice Coutcher.

The bodies will be in the Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 South Reynolds Rd., after 2 p.m. tomorrow, with a Prayer and Remembrance Service at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…