LINDSEY, Ohio - Wendelle C. Miller, 82, retired schoolteacher, former mayor of this Sandusky County village, and still a council member, died Wednesday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, Toledo.
He had a stroke, his wife, Eileen, said. He was taken to the hospital earlier that day from Washington Elementary School in Lindsey, where the classroom he used for 17 years was to be dedicated in his honor.
Mr. Miller had been on the Sandusky County Fair board since 1991. He was the fair's secretary-manager from 1978-2000. For years, he bid $250 or more in the fair's baked goods auction so he could get his favorite, elderberry pie.
He was mayor of Lindsey from 1984-91. Earlier, he was village clerk-treasurer.
"He thrived on that sort of thing, and he enjoyed being around people, and it didn't seem to matter if they agreed with him or not," his wife said. "He would let them know his opinion."
At a ceremony last Labor Day, Lindsey renamed its park the Wendelle C. Miller Village Park. The Millers were transported in a horse-driven white carriage, and Mrs. Miller got a dozen red roses.
"He was just loved by everybody in the community," said David Overmyer, who was a student of Mr. Miller's in 1959. "He cared about so many people through his many activities. He was willing to give his time and his counsel. There are so many things he gave to so many people."
Mr. Miller grew up on a farm in Sandusky County's Rice Township and was a 1943 graduate of Fremont Ross High School. During World War II, he served with the Navy in the South Pacific.
He later worked as a house painter and school bus driver. Then, in 1952, he met Eileen Fackler of Rittman, Ohio, who was in Lindsey for her first teaching job. They dated for five years before marriage, often making 200-mile round trips to visit after she moved closer to her hometown.
He enrolled in Bowling Green State University and in 1956 started teaching seventh and eighth grades at the Washington School. He received his bachelor's degree in 1959. "I think I influenced him to go to college, even though he was 27" when he started, his wife said.
After they married, they both taught in the Washington School - he the upper grades; she second grade. They often opened their classroom doors in warm months. On occasion, Mrs. Miller would hear her husband's voice.
"The voice had to go all the way down the hall and around the corner," she said. "He could make his voice loud. If it did get loud, those kids knew what they'd better do or not do.
"He was stern, but I think the kids would do anything for him."
Mr. Miller later taught math at Riley School and Fremont Junior High School. He retired in 1982.
He was a charter member of the Lindsey Lions Club, Mr. Overmyer said. He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, Lindsey.
Surviving are his wife, Eileen Miller, whom he married Aug. 3, 1957; brother, Donald Miller, and sisters, Geraldine Slates and Pauline Lamale.
The body will be in the Herman-Kinn-Karlovetz Funeral Home, Fremont, after 1 p.m. today. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Trinity United Methodist Church, Lindsey, where the body will be after 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the Lindsey Lions Club scholarship fund; the American Heart Association, the church, or the Sandusky County Fairgrounds.