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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2008

Local educator was witness to Hiroshima blast

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Owen F. Ernsthausen, 85, who witnessed the first atomic bomb during World War II and was a principal at two Sylvania schools, died Sunday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

Mr. Ernsthausen, of Bowling Green, died of renal failure, his daughter, Debra Young, said.

Born in Luckey to Ernest and Alvina Ernsthausen on Oct. 1, 1922, Mr. Ernsthausen was eager to serve in the military during World War II.

He was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, co-piloting a B-24 bomber in the South Pacific.

Mrs. Young said bits and pieces of her father's World War II experience trickled out through the years.

His sister, Margie Mitchell Armstrong, said she just found out a few years ago that he was flying nearby when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

"He told us that he was in the air the day they dropped the bomb and saw the mushroom cloud," Mrs. Armstrong said.

Mr. Ernsthausen graduated from Bowling Green State University, where he met his future wife, Joyce, who became a music teacher.

They married Aug. 12, 1950, and they taught together in Metamora, Ohio, where he went after teaching math and science in Weston, Ohio, for a year.

At Metamora, Mr. Ernsthausen also was a baseball and basketball coach. The family then moved to Sylvania, where Mr. Ernsthausen taught and then became a principal after getting a master's degree from BGSU.

After eight years as principal at Hillview Elementary, he was the first principal at McCord Junior High School when it opened in 1963. He retired in 1977.

Mrs. Armstrong, who was 14 years younger than Mr. Ernsthausen, said her brother convinced their parents to let her attend college. She, too, became an educator, last teaching 6th grade in Fredericktown, Ohio.

"He is the reason I got to go to college," Mrs. Armstrong said.

The Ernsthausens returned to the family farm in Wood County in 1974, where Mr. Ernsthausen raised and trained harness horses. He also drove them at Toledo's Raceway Park and local county fairs until the mid 1990s, and he kept horses until a few years ago, Mrs. Young said.

"It was almost his second career," she said.

Mr. Ernsthausen was devoted to religion and was a member of Zion Lutheran Church, Luckey. He served on the church council, ushered, and sang in the choir.

"He was very strong in his faith," Mrs. Young said.

Mr. Ernsthausen also was a member of the Ohio Education Association, the National Education Association, BGSU Varsity Club, Northwest Ohio Colt Association, and United States Trotting Association.

Surviving are his wife, Joyce Ernsthausen; daughter, Debra Young; sister, Margie Mitchell Armstrong, and a grandson.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today at Zion Lutheran Church, Luckey. The Marsh Funeral Home, Luckey, is handling arrangements.

The family suggests tributes to the Kidney Foundation, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or Zion Lutheran Church music fund.



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